Australian Hyland's rewarding debut opens with half-aboriginal Emily Tempest returning to the Outback "blackfeller" camp of Moonlight Downs after years of traveling around the world. Just as Emily is settling in, her dear friend Lincoln Flinders, a highly respected community leader, is found strangled and missing a kidney. The mutilation points to the local sorcerer, Blakie Japanangka. Emily, with the help of police sergeant Tom McGillivray, tries to track down Blakie, who has escaped into the hills. When doubts about Blakie's guilt arise, suspicion falls on several people connected to land ownership disputes, leading to a series of rather unbelievable action scenes. The true strength of this beautifully written novel lies in Emily's ambivalent feelings about her culture and her complex interactions with Hazel Flinders, the murdered man's daughter and Emily's former best friend. Their relationship, and the way Emily moves between aboriginal and white society, provide the tension lacking in the mystery half of the plot. (Feb.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Moonlight Downs (Emily Tempest Series #1)by Adrian Hyland
“Incorporates geophysical data, race politics and aboriginal spirituality into a seamless, often hilarious stream of narrative./i>
“Packs a real wallop. . . . An epic and ambitious mystery set against the vast backdrop of Central Australia, where indigenous and white people live side by side in an uneasy truce.”—Vogue (Australia)
“Incorporates geophysical data, race politics and aboriginal spirituality into a seamless, often hilarious stream of narrative. [It] has all the hallmarks of a first of a very successful series with the potential to forge a new sub-genre of detective fiction—that of a feisty, female indigenous sleuth whose intelligence and tenacity prove superior to force and ignorance.”—The Sydney Morning Herald
“Witty, knowing, at times downright hilarious. The plot is absorbing and Hyland’s characters are originals. . . . As Emily Tempest untangles the knot of a murder, she also comes to rediscover her past, her belonging and her self.”—Brisbane Courier Mail
Emily Tempest, a feisty part-aboriginal woman, left home to get an education and has since traveled abroad. She returns to visit the Moonlight Downs “mob,” still uncertain if she belongs in the aboriginal world or that of the whitefellers. Within hours of her arrival, an old friend is murdered and mutilated. The police suspect a rogue aborigine, but Emily starts asking questions. Emily Tempest, a modern half-aboriginal sleuth, is a welcome successor to Arthur Upfield’s classic detective.
Adrian Hyland worked with aboriginal communities in Central Australia for ten years. He now teaches at LaTrobe University in Melbourne. This is his first novel.
From the Hardcover edition.
This distinctive debut novel is perfect for mystery fans who are craving new horizons. Emily Tempest is half Aboriginal and grew up in the Australian Outback. After college and travel, she returns to her home and mob (clan). She notices changes, some of them disturbing. When Lincoln, a mob leader, is brutally murdered, Emily is not content to settle for the obvious solution: that he was the victim of a local sorcerer. As she reconnects with her old life and dear friend Hazel, she searches for the murderer. Hyland, who worked in remote Aboriginal communities and lived with the Walpiri in the Tanami Desert, touches on political and racial issues and Aboriginal spirituality as he weaves an intriguing tale that includes poetic descriptions and excellent characterizations. Included are two essential and helpful glossaries: Australian and Aboriginal. Much needed doses of humor and a sweet romance lighten this sometimes dark story. Winner of the 2007 Ned Kelly Award for best first mystery in Australia, where it was titled Diamond Dove, this is a choice selection for all Australian fiction and in-depth mystery collections. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ10/1/07; for another Australian mystery involving the Aborigines, see Peter Temple's The Broken Shore.-Ed.]
Susan G. Baird
Meet the Author
Adrian Hyland won Australia's Ned Kelly 2007 Award for Best First Novel for Moonlight Downs. He spent many years in the Northern Territory living and working among the indigenous people. He now teaches at LaTrobe University and lives in Melbourne.
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I really enjoyed this book. It has a great sense of presence in the Outback of Australia and a great development of characters. There was no rush to get to the plot, but the casual story arc allowed you to settle in. I have already purchased #2 in this series, and it is next on my list to read.
Enjoyable fast paced murder mystery set in the Outback of Oz. For me, story enhanced by local culture and musical references. Light escapist fiction.