After the mysterious death of his grandfather, 11-year-old Lindsay Armstrong and his family leave England for a new life in New South Wales. Property is bought in remote Billarooby, a small settlement on the Lachlan River. It is 1942. The war is far away, but a stranger the boy chases from the farm, turns out to be a young Japanese soldier escaped from a nearby POW camp. His witness of the brutal recapture of the prisoner, triggers the horrific memory of a festering family secret involving both himself and his tyrannical father. The trouble in Billarooby has just begun. Lindsay acquires a picture book about ancient samurai warriors and their Code of Bushido. He comes to believe that the prisoners wish for nothing but to re-join the Emperor and regain their honour, something he feels is lacking in the local world that surrounds him.
Lindsay is not the only one obsessed with the prisoners. The district's paranoid fantasies of mass escape are decidedly blacker than Lindsay's imaginings. Racial tensions erupt as the great drought grips and threatens to destroy the once flourishing farm. Vigilantism combined with inability to tackle the truth about the Armstrong family's darkest past, drive Lindsay's parents to desperate measures and bouts of madness. For Lindsay, it's a coming-of-age of great poignancy as the story reaches its climax on the dried-up river bed of the Lachlan.
|Edition description:||1st Fireside ed|
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