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Murder Down Under: An Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte Mystery (original 1937; edition 1983)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684178877, Mass Market Paperback)For readers who thought they'd exhausted the list of Golden Age mystery writers, Australian author Arthur Upfield (1888-1964) is often a pleasant surprise. The tales of Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte (or Bony, as he is known) offer all of the major pleasures of Christie, Tey, and Doyle; but Upfield's works also carry the freshness of his island continent setting and of his "half-caste" hero. Bony, born of an aborigine mother and a white father, is a genius of criminal science and also a classic gentleman. Suave and always impeccably dressed (except, of course, when in disguise), he solves mysteries through patience. As he often repeats to John Muir--one of the many young men he tutors: "Never race Time. Make Time an ally, for Time is the greatest detective that ever was or ever will be." Through Bony, Upfield's progressive series frequently explores the foundations of Australian race prejudices and defies them with Bonaparte's genial wit and disarming smile.
In Murder Down Under the detective is on holiday in western Australia but inevitably winds up with a working vacation, this time assisting young Sergeant Muir. Farmer George Loftus has disappeared, and his car was found smashed along the world's longest fence in the wheat town of Burracoppin. The days before Loftus's disappearance are filled with clues that point to Leonard Wallace, owner of the Burracoppin Hotel. Loftus had given Wallace a ride from Perth back to the hotel, and the pair had shared drinks in the bar before driving off together at 1 a.m.--shortly before the disappearance. Wallace claims that the two had argued and that he had left the car well before the accident. Now, Bony must parse truth and fiction in his inimitable style. Along the way, however, he meets the bizarre Mr. Jelly, an amateur criminologist who collects portraits of murders and who may have some insights into the case. Murder Down Under is a true classic: a rich world of quirky characters and fascinating scenery built around a complex and satisfying puzzle. Other adventures of Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte: The Bone Is Pointed, The Bachelors of Broken Hill, and The Mystery of Swordfish Reef. --Patrick O'Kelley
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:02 -0400)
The car lies wrecked and abandoned near the world's longest fence, the 'rabbit fence', in the wheat belt of Western Australia. Of its owner there is no sign. Has George Loftus simply decamped, for reasons of his own? Or is it a case of murder? Detective-Inspector Bonaparte suspects the worst, and is determined to find the body -and the murderer.
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