Review Blog

Nov 27 2013

The Lake Frome monster by Arthur W. Upfield

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Bolinda Publishing, 2013. ISBN 9781743153321. Heinemann, 1966.
(Age: 11- adult) Highly recommended. Crime, Australian deserts, Camels. First published in 1966, two years after Upfield's death, this book was completed by J. L. Price and Mrs Dorothy Strange, from the unfinished manuscript and copious notes left by the author. Based as were many of his detective books, on his journeys into the interior of Australia, The Lake Frome Monster is a rivetting read, full of the dust and loneliness of outback South Australia, where Lake Frome can change from a dry salt pan to a flooded lake the next. Upfield's detective, Napoleon Bonaparte is an experienced crime fighter, used to pitting his mental and physical prowess against the criminal, often in rural outposts. With an Aboriginal background, and work done as a tracker, Bony is accustomed to working with a vast array of people, be they Indigenous or European, police or criminal.
This audio version, published by Bolinda, is an engrossing rendition of the story, retold by voice over artist and actor, Peter Hosking. His voice takes on the array of people, from the sly and quickly speaking high pitched voice of Needle, to the earthy, knowing voice of Nuggett, or the more cultured accent of the Commander from the station. Each voice is identifiable and distinct, adding a vibrancy to the telling, amidst the events which build to an exciting climax. Hosking's laconic tones add authenticity to the tale of Bony delving into the murder of Maidstone at Bore 10 along the Dingo Fence between NSW, South Australia and Queensland.
To investigate this murder, he must go undercover, becoming a boundary rider along the fence, checking its condition and repairing breaks where the wind has swept sand over the wire. Hard work, with the added investigations, dodging the stray bullet, subtle questioning of the other boundary riders, local Aboriginal people and overseers, while along the way solving the mystery of the monster.
Fran Knight

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