Death Leaves the Station by Alexander Thorpe

‘The truth will not be hidden forever.  If you do not seek it, it will seek you.’

On night, in the summer of 1927 at Halfwell Station in the wheatbelt of Western Australia, eighteen-year-old Mariana Harris encounters two strangers.  The first is a corpse that Mariana encounters during her solitary midnight walk admiring the skies, the second is a nameless friar who calls into the station.  But the corpse has disappeared by the time Mariana takes the friar to it, although bloodstained stones remain.  The police are called in.  Mariana and the friar join the search, together with the powerfully moustachioed Detective Sergeant Arnold Parkes and Cooper the tracker.  Their search (which will include Mariana’s third trip in a car) will take them from the goldfields to the city and will uncover several secrets.  This is a journey through a racist Australia, where the treatment of Cooper (and others) is particularly uncomfortable.  Who does the corpse belong to, who moved it and to where?

Mr Thorpe combines an interesting cast of characters and an intriguing mystery (or two).  I enjoyed this novel, a comparatively quick read at just under 200 pages.

‘A slow understanding spread throughout the room.’

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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