‘I see nothing around me that I can properly name.’
New South Wales, 1840. Thirteen-year-old Tom Clay, an orphan, was convicted of poaching in Suffolk. He is transported to New South Wales. He’s assigned to a farmer as a shepherd, one of three whose job it is to protect his master’s flock of sheep from wild dogs. The three of them live in a crude hut. Tom finds the sheep dogs better company than the men.
‘I’m as lost in this place as I would be in the middle of London. I don’t know what is dangerous and what isn’t.’
But this is no idyll. A man is murdered. He is replaced. The murderer, intent on eliminating witnesses, returns. The shepherds must fight for their lives. They flee into the bush and are pursued.
The story is told over a couple of days. The action is relentless. We are with Tom as he flees, trying to find safety, trying to survive. Can Tom prevail over the murderer?
The first time I read this, I had my heart in my mouth. The second time (for I needed to reread) I was better able to observe Ms Jinks’s storytelling skills.
If you enjoy fast-paced action set in 19th century Australia, I can recommend this novel.
Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Text Publishing Company for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.