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Moonlight Downs
An Emily Tempest Investigation, No 1
Adrian Hyland

Soho Crime
February 1, 2009 / ISBN: 978156474839
Amatuer Sleuth / Australia / Contemporary

Reviewed by
L J Roberts

First Sentence: I parked my little white ute on the outskirts of the camp and sat there, looking out at the scatter of corrugated iron hovels.

Emily Tempest has traveled Australia and the world, only to return to return to the community where she grew up; Moonlight Downs. Shortly after her return, the beloved leader of the community is brutally murdered. The obvious suspect is the half-crazed aboriginal, Blackie. But is the obvious suspect too obvious.

It is not easy for an author to write cross-gender; Hyland does so brilliantly.
Emily is a fascinating character; strong, independent and trying to find her way home. With her being bi-cultural, aboriginal and white, she is the conduit through which we see a culture completely different from our own and the conflicts which exist between them.
However, you are given a sense of the culture without bludgeoning you with it. It’s not a diatribe, but shows how the present draws reference from the past in a very good story of the here and now.

Hyland has wonderful voice and use of language…”She was wearing a white cotton dress, beneath which the contours of her body flowed as smoothly as the country songs they sometimes sing out here”. I loved the reference to Emily and her friend, Hazel, coming across a trove of classic literature…”the collection in front of us was something else. … They were the planet itself.” The use of wry humor provides a lightening tone to the subject of the book…”I took another look at their transport,… It looked like something the Haps had dropped on Darwin.” Happily, he provided a glossary of terms, however it is fairly easy to glean the meaning of unfamiliar words just from their context.

Not only does Hyland establish a strong sense of place, but he very effectively conveys a feeling of threat and danger.

Sometimes it’s obvious to see why award-winning books are just that. Such is the case here. There was a 3-year gap, but I’m anxious to read the next book in the Emily Tempest series.

Reviewed 2011
© 2011