The stoning by Peter Papathanasiou

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Detective Sergeant Georgios Manolis is sent to investigate the murder of a young teacher in an outback country town. It is a brutal death by stoning, and so of course suspicion falls on the inmates of the nearby detention centre, labelled the Brown House. But all is not as it at first seems, and there may be more to the crime than the local police are willing to consider.

Papathanasiou is to be commended for his well researched expose of the heart destroying conditions of an Australian detention centre, the dehumanising approach of the prison guards, and the simmering tensions of the community in which the centre is planted. Added to that there is entrenched racism and bigotry, something that Manolis, of migrant descent, and his Aboriginal offsider Sparrow, are only too aware of.

It is an intense gritty story of hard people and harsh conditions, and the mystery has an intriguing twist that surprises at the same time as it draws together threads that go back a long way into the past. This debut crime novel could easily be the brilliant beginning of a compelling series.

Themes: Asylum seekers, Detention, Crime, Outback Australia, Police corruption, Murder.

Helen Eddy