Thursday, October 18, 2007

Guest Blog--Australian Mysteries

My mother introduced me to Arthur Upfield's Australian mystery novels. She left The New Shoe at my house, and I found it while searching for something to read.

Upfield's mysteries take place after WWII and feature a part-Aboriginal detective, Napoleon Bonaparte, or "Bony." I thoroughly enjoyed The New Shoe, a novel giving me the feel of an Agatha Christie. (Agatha Christie is my favorite mystery author, and I love "cozy" mysteries.)

With warm memories of The New Shoe in mind, I searched for other Upfield novels. Most of them are now out of print, so I did some Ebay shopping to come up with others. The results have most definitely been mixed. Some delve too far into mystical aspects of Aboriginal life, and one even featured prisoners held captive in a cavern--not exactly my idea of a cozy mystery.

My latest read was The Widows of Broome. Widows fell somewhere in the middle of the Upfield genre, giving me enough traditional mystery to be satsifying while not overly annoying me with Bonaparte's sleuthing tactics.

Widows begins with two murdered widows in a small town in northwestern Australia. Bony is forced to use his tracking and deduction skills to find the murderer before he takes another victim. The read isn't stellar, but it's a good novel when you need some relaxation (assuming you aren't a widow living alone).


Blogger said...

Thank goodness for Ebay. I noticed the books are rather old. Did they read dated?

notaconnoisseur said...

I recently read "A Late Phoenix" by Catherine Aird. I like her detective C.D. Sloan fairly well and the stories are okay. This novel was copyrighted in 1970 and is about a skeleton that is found in the remains of a bombed out house from WW II. Of course, the property has remained undeveloped simply because someone with influence knew there was a murder victim buried there. One of the qualities that I found so strange in reading this book was that it referred so often to the "Cold War." Not just the author but all of the western world was convinced at this time that the next war would be a nuclear one with no survivors left to tell about it. Today as we are seeing an increase in global terrorism, I found it fascinating to read a book where the characters were so sure that they would never see a bombed out house such as this one from WW II because the face of war between nations had changed so much. Now although we are concerned about nuclear weapons, we no longer feel that is the only threat to our safety as they so obviously do in this 1960s novel.

Wanna-Be Lit said...

Yes, there is definitely some dated material in the books. There are some pretty racial comments despite the main character being half Aboriginal.

I was very fascinated by one book where several babies were abducted. The mothers would leave the prams outside stores and bars when they went in to shop or drink. They would also leave the babies alone at home "sleeping" for hours while they went out. I can't even imagine doing such a thing nowadays.