29 April 2013


Synopsis (Text Publishing)

Victor Radcliffe, prominent Melbourne businessman, on the committee of the Carlton Football Club, lies murdered in a deserted warehouse—the bayonet wound suggests a trained killer, but Police Inspector James Maclaine, and his smart-taking sidekick Harry Devlin, are having trouble tracking down the killer.

Why do the members of Radcliffe's household seem strangely offhand about his murder? Was there a woman on the scene of the crime? As for the woman in Maclaine's life, his marriage is on the skids and he can't keep his nightmares away. The Praetorian Guard, a shadowy group of WW1 army veterans, keep showing up, as does the charming step-daughter of the deceased.

Set in the summer of the Bodyline cricket series The Richmond Conspiracy is a crime mystery about men who have returned after war and are refugees in their own land—old certainties have vanished, betrayal is in the air, and Maclaine has to determine exactly where justice lies.

My Take

Andrew Grimes is one of a growing batch of Australian authors setting their crime fiction post World War One , particularly in the 1930s.  [Kerry Greenwood, Geoff McGeachin, and Sulari Gentill]. And here is another one where the setting and story are a good match.

Set in 1933 where things are not going so well in Melbourne or indeed anywhere in Australia. Some returned soldiers have been unable to find either work or the excitement they experienced in the war and Australia has slipped into the economic depression. Fascist groups like the Praetorian Guard look with envy on what appears to be stability of places in Europe like Italy. The murder of Victor Radcliffe looks like soldier's work, even down to the Turkish bayonet still at the site. Victorian policeman James Maclaine soon discovers links to World War One legacies, hatreds and rivalries that still exist.

Although in essence this is a police procedural, in reality we see little of the workings of the Russell Street station where Maclaine and Devlin are located. But there is plenty of human interest and the tale moves at a good pace, the historical setting feels authentic, and the plot resolves nicely. A good start from a new author. A series is promised so here is a chance to get in at the beginning.

My rating: 4.4

About the author.

1 comment:

Kathy D. said...

This one sounds fascinating to me, from your review, the period, the characters, etc. I'd love to read it if it were readily available off my library's shelves.

However, it's hard to get books from Oz over here and my TBR piles are out of control and I've been busy so reading is going slowly.

I'll add this to my TBR list and if I see it, I'll grab it.


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