Death and the Running Patterer
Berkley, Dec 7 2010, $15.00
In 1828 in New South Wales, a soldier relieving himself of the drink he imbibed at the pub is murdered. Soon afterward, Governor Lieutenant-General Ralph Darling receives an ominous short rhyme with the implication more will die. Darling, based on advice from the police chief Captain Francis Rossi, orders former Bow St. Runner Nicodemus Dunne to investigate. Nic points out he is a patterer reading the news to people and no longer a detective ever since he was exiled for protecting a little girl from the excess assault of soldiers
Nic uncovers all sorts of secrets from local residents, but none connect to the killer who has murdered again. However, his efforts to identify the culprit lead to the predator identifying him as a threat. With little help from the military who believe he acted wrongly saving the child, Nic knows he goes it alone. Of course his efforts lead him to meet Reverend Halloran and his delightful protégé seamstress Rachel Dormin who he likes but fears his attraction could harm her.
Death and the Running Patterer is a great historical mystery, in which armchair travelers will feel they reside in 1828 in New South Wales amidst exiled criminals, some free people, the soldiers, and the Aborigine. In many ways, the setting steals the show as Robin Adair provides a vivid look at society in the penal colony. Nic is a terrific lead protagonist who diligently works the investigation though he knows the military officers for the most part scorn his action back in England and that the felons loathe him also. Fans will appreciate this strong whodunit in Australia. The early nineteenth century comes alive with Nic’s probe.