The Price of an Orphan

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Johnnie is a nine-year-old city orphan recently placed with a couple on a cattle ranch in the Australian outback. But he is not quite the foster child they had in mind. He is "cheeky and lazy, cowardly and stubborn." When he claims to have witnessed a murder, they remind him of the boy who cried wolf. Finally, he admits he was lying. As he is about to be sent back to the orphanage, they are invited on a camping trip. A special treat and one ...
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Overview

Johnnie is a nine-year-old city orphan recently placed with a couple on a cattle ranch in the Australian outback. But he is not quite the foster child they had in mind. He is "cheeky and lazy, cowardly and stubborn." When he claims to have witnessed a murder, they remind him of the boy who cried wolf. Finally, he admits he was lying. As he is about to be sent back to the orphanage, they are invited on a camping trip. A special treat and one last chance for Johnnie, or a cunning trap?
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Offering a thrilling glimpse into the Australian outback, the fifth title by Aussie author Carlon (Crime of Silence) to be published here by Soho brims with suspense. Kay and Stuart Heath's nine-year-old foster son, Johnnie, is a troublemaker, with a penchant for spinning tall tales. When he brags about witnessing the murder of an unknown woman in a red dress, Kay and Stuart, who manage the Quidong cattle ranch, are reluctant to believe him, assuming that his story is merely another example of the boy who cried wolf. Eventually, Johnnie decides to say he's been fibbing, figuring that once he's reunited with his birth father, the two of them can investigate and find the owner of the license plates Johnnie discovered at the crime scene and later hid. Kay and Stuart, seeking to work on their marriage and their relationship with Johnnie, bring their son along as they accompany the ranch's owner on a camping trip to the wild brush. The familial retreat becomes a life-threatening hostage situation when the murderer's true identity is revealed. Johnnie and Kay are left at the will of this cold-blooded, ruthless killer, as countless chances of being saved come and go. Carlon's struggling, sharply drawn characters provoke sustained interest in their fates; her evocation of tough Johnnie's hidden loneliness is especially poignant. Her usual assured prose and expert pacing will lure readers deeply into her tale, from its mysterious opening to its nail-biting conclusion. Agency, John Johnson. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
New York Times Book Review
Patricia Carlon poses a stunning puzzle.
Kirkus Reviews
Megan Gale is likely to babble when she's in her cups, so the person she's blackmailing beats her to death and drives her Mini, with her corpse bundled inside, into an off-limits cave outside the town of Quidong. There's not a chance in a million her body will ever be found. But the murder itself has been witnessed by Johnnie Bradford, a nine-year-old orphan who's been taken in by Stuart Heath, himself an awkwardly well-meaning former foster child, and his wife Kay. Luckily for the killer, Johnnie isn't sure whose face was under the felt hat he saw; luckily again, Johnnie makes a uniquely unconvincing witness. He's a lazy, uncooperative child who's already told a string of whoppers and can't resist gilding his current tale, when it's challenged, with masked men and bloodcurdling screams that don't exactly add to his authority. Unluckily, Johnnie, stung when nobody believes his wild story, digs up a piece of physical evidence as dangerous to himself as to the killer. Soon after, Johnnie and Kay leave on a camping trip that gets them out of threatening Quidong. But Carlon, though she doesn't go in for the twists and turns of Crime of Silence (1998), makes the Australian bush, in all its vast emptiness, a bigger and even more suffocating trap for her surly innocent. First published in 1964, this exquisitely calibrated suspenser has been waiting for US publication ever since like a buried bomb.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569471951
  • Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/1/2003
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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