Tracks of the missing by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler

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Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler, authors of the award winning Black cockatoo return with another atmospheric novel that will thrill fans of rural noir mysteries and those who are interested in issues facing teens, especially those of Aboriginal descent. Dek Archer arrives at school excited about the prospect of professional football recruiters coming to town. He is going to try out and hopes that it is a way out of the small country town for him. However, it is the news that Mr Henry, an old man who sold grog on the sly, has been found murdered, and that a bus load of Year 12s is missing that becomes his focus. Among the Year 12s are some of his relatives and Jenny a girl that he is interested in and at the back of his mind is a worry that a prank he participated in may have led to an accident with the bus’s tyres. He must make a choice: meet the recruiters or go tracking the bus with his grandfather. What follows is a journey into Country that will change his life forever.

Narrated in the first person by Dek, readers will sympathise with his dilemma about missing the recruitment team and the guilt that he feels about the prank with the bus. They will learn much about Aboriginal life and culture and the racism and injustices that First Nations Peoples have experienced. The growing tension that Dek feels of being watched as he and his grandfather track the bus, leave the reader wondering just what is happening. As with all well written mysteries the result is unexpected and thought provoking.

Tracks of the missing would make an excellent class novel or Book Club choice and extensive teachers’ notes are available. It could be paired with Dark emu by Bruce Pascoe and Sorry Day by Coral Vass. It is a must for all libraries.

Themes: Aboriginal Social Life and Customs, Aboriginal history, Stolen generations, Hope, Respect.

Pat Pledger