Soho, Feb 2008, $24.00
After several years of seeing the world, half-aboriginal Emily Tempest returns home to the Moonlight Downs camp in Australia’s Outback. Emily struggles to readapt to living in the “Blackfeller” camp, but is getting there thanks in part due to a warm welcome home from her friend Lincoln Flinders although his daughter, her former best friend Hazel, makes her feel like an outsider.
She is stunned when Lincoln is found dead, a strangulation victim. Even more shocking is the killer carved out his kidney. The locals assume sorcerer Blakie Japanangka murdered and then mutilated the body of the camp’s leader. Emily assists police sergeant Tom McGillivray in trying to find Blakie, who has vanished. When information surfaces that makes the prime suspect look innocent, Emily looks into a land dispute as the motive for killing Lincoln with the organ removal used to throw blame on the aborigine sorcerer.
This is an interesting look at the aborigine culture from the perspective of a person who had one foot in that and one in the white Australian society before she became a globetrotter. Emily is the strength of the story line as her relationship with Hazel seems to be a microcosm of the two groups. Although the whodunit especially when it detours into an avarice land deal seems a stretch and lacks suspense, readers will enjoy this insightful visit to the Outback.