This incredible novel is a genre I am a big fan of but have never come across in an Australian setting before (and you have to wonder why). This is a western set in outback Queensland in 1885. It combines the historical fiction of Kate Grenville’s The Secret River with the visceral brutality of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and is a book that won’t let you go.
This is a classic western story. Two brothers, Tommy and Billy McBride, lose everything when their parents are brutally killed on their small farm in Central Queensland. Spurred on by the district’s largest landowner, John Sullivan, the local Aboriginal population is quickly blamed for the atrocity. With the help of the infamous Inspector Noone and his band of Native Police Troopers a party is hastily put together to hunt the perpetrators down and failing that extract whatever justice they perceive is warranted on whomever they do find. Tommy and Billy are both enlisted to help and the journey into the frontier land of outback Queensland will change both their lives forever.
Paul Howarth brilliantly captures the Australian landscape; it’s contrasts and unpredictability, it’s harshness and it’s sense of home. He pulls no punches confronting an aspect of Australian history that is often forgotten or is just plain ignored. There a times in the novel where it becomes increasingly difficult to read but at the same time these scenes need to be retold and, in the way fiction allows us to, be experienced head on. A novel about Australia I have never encountered before and will not ever forget.
(216mm x 135mm x mm)
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Publish Date: 23-May-2018
Country of Publication: United Kingdom