24 June 2015


  • this edition published by Scribe 2015
  • ISBN 978-1-925106-45-9
  • 282 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Scribe Publications)

The Port Fairy Murders is the sequel to The Holiday Murders, a political and historical crime novel set in 1943, featuring the newly formed homicide department of Victoria Police.

The department has been struggling to counter little-known fascist groups, particularly an organisation called Australia First that has been festering in Australia since before the war. And now there's an extra problem: the bitter divide between Catholics and Protestants, which is especially raw in small rural communities.

The homicide team, which once again includes Detective Joe Sable and Constable Helen Lord, is trying to track down a dangerous man named George Starling. At the same time, they are called to investigate a double murder in the fishing village of Port Fairy. It seems straightforward -- they have a signed confession -- but it soon becomes apparent that nothing about the incident is as it seems.

Written with great verve and insight, The Port Fairy Murders is a superb psychological study, as well as a riveting historical whodunit.

My Take

I've discovered that this is the first novel by Robert Gott that I've read. THE HOLIDAY MURDERS was shortlisted for Best Fiction on the Ned Kelly Awards, but somehow I just never got around to reading it. As THE PORT FAIRY MURDERS is a sequel to that title, and the plot takes in some unfinished business from  it, it is probably best to read them in order, but obviously I haven't done that. There are plenty of hints about what happened in the first title, and the characters are well developed.

There are some interesting features to the plot of THE PORT FAIRY MURDERS: the historical setting of 1943 which is not only during the Second World War, but also a time when women were not generally employed by Victoria Police except as secretarial staff; the rural location of the murder site; it allows the author not only to explore the restrictions imposed by the war, but attitudes in the general population.

The author has left plenty of room for a sequel, for while we know who committed the various murders, there is still some unfinished business.

My rating: 4.4

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