- #4 in the Napoleon Bonaparte series
- originally published 1937
- aka MURDER DOWN UNDER
- this edition unabridged audiobook
- Narrated by Peter Hosking
- length 7 hours 27 minutes
- available at Audible.com
Mr. Jelly's Business is one of the finest of Arthur Upfield's many distinguished stories about the career of Detective Inspector Napoleon ("Bony") Bonaparte.
It takes Bony to the West Australian town of Burracoppin to investigate the disappearance of George Loftus, whose car was found wrecked near the longest fence in the world, the 1,500 mile Rabbit Fence. He meets Loftus's wife, who is anything but grief-stricken at her husband's disappearance; Loftus's hired man, singularly reticent about his own past history; and many of Burracoppin's numerous gossips. Later he encounters the mysterious Mr. Jelly, whose business causes his charming daughters great anxiety.
The double question of Loftus' disappearance and Mr. Jelly's business taxes Bony's well-known powers of observation and deduction to the utmost, until the two problems are simultaneously solved.
As anyone who knows Arthur Upfield's other work would expect, Mr. Jelly's Business is more than a story of crime and detection: It also offers an admirable picture of life in West Australia's wheat country
Bony takes on the case of George Loftus' disappearance as a favour to a friend, and gets a job working on the Rabbit Proof Fence so he can keep the locals under observation and work out what has happened to Loftus. Mr Jelly is convinced that Loftus has been murdered by his wife and her lover, but he is surrounded by his own mystery. He gets telegrams that summon him to Perth for at least a week at a time. Given his personal hobby that involves keeping extensive files on murderers, Mr Jelly's daughters are convinced that his job must be something to be ashamed of. Bony promises Mr Jelly's daughters that he will find out what their father does during his absences.
This novel is filled with Upfield's own philosophy about what creates murderers. We also find out a lot about aboriginal tracking methods, as well as more information about Bony's family background.
My rating: 4.3
I've also read
DEATH OF A SWAGMAN
4.4, THE BARRAKEE MYSTERY
4.0, A MAN OF TWO TRIBES
4.4, THE BATTLING PROPHET