9 August 2012

Forgotten Australian author: Joan O'Hagan

For many of my contributions this year to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books I am focussing on the books I read 20 years ago in 1992. By then my reading diet was almost exclusively crime fiction.

So my recent posts for this meme have largely been about authors that I "discovered" in that year.

Today's post is a variant on the theme with two books I read towards the end of 1992 by Joan O'Hagan, an author who was born in Australia in 1926 and grew up in Canberra. She married a diplomat and lived in New Zealand, the South Pacific, the United States and for several decades in Rome.

O'Hagan appears to have published 4 books, all crime fiction

I read AGAINST THE GRAIN published in 1988.
I must have enjoyed it, as I followed it up with A ROMAN DEATH.


In Australia, a setting far from the author's last outing (Death of a Madonna), plant scientist Dr. Jack Duquesne has worked for years on a tough new strain of wheat he accidentally discovered in the uranium fields of the country's harsh tropical reaches--and now he wants the world to know about this important resource against starvation. Instead, he finds himself in the middle of conflicting, cynical national and global politics. 
Two CIA men have been killed while trying to get a closer look at the experimental crop; a third has almost killed Duquesne; and suave Prime Minister James Blantyre seems to be working a deal with the US to hold back the discovery--a threat to that nation's wheat growers--in exchange for a uranium contract. 
The Aborigines have an interest in that deal, too. Then there are the Russians, in the person of Duquesne's girlfriend Irina, with more to come. Frustrated and angry, threatened on all sides, Duquesne manages to get to an international scientific conference in Rome, where he escapes death a second time and is rewarded, in a nice melodramatic flourish, for his stubborness and dedication. 

Synopsis of A ROMAN DEATH, published in 1989

An historical mystery novel inspired by a fragment of one of Cicero's defence speeches. Two great Roman families are to be linked by marriage, but not all the celebrations go to plan. On the eve of the wedding a murder occurs and the underlying hatred between the two parties flares into open war.

A woman is charged with the crime, but the great Cicero is determined to uncover the true nature of the killing


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