This novel by Tom Keneally and his daughter, Meg, is the first in a series about Hugh Monsarrat, a convict serving out his sentence in an Australian penal colony. The plot centres around the death and suspected murder of the colony's commander's wife. Monsarrat, a clerk, helps to solve the mystery behind her death with the aid of some of the colony's residents.
However this is much more than a detective story as its main aim, in my opinion, is to describe the workings and life in Port Macquarie, delving into the various characters at length at describing the day-to-day activities that mark life in an Australian penal colony in 1825. It is evidently well-researched and this helps to put together an engaging and interesting novel which should entertain and educate the reader. Characters are developed and well-described, including their background and reasons for being in this remote location. There is little, if anything, to fault in this novel and I recommend it to anyone interested in either the mystery genre or the well-researched historical novel: this combines both in an intelligent and rewarding manner.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.