Wednesday, 31 August 2011

My Review: Diamond Dove by Adrian Hyland

Having recently read and thoroughly enjoyed Adrian Hyland's Gunshot Road (Emily Tempest #2), I thought it only right that I read the first Emily Tempest book, Diamond Dove - and I was not disappointed.

Emily Tempest is the daughter of a white miner, Motor Jack and his deceased Aboriginal wife. Being of mixed race, Emily has a diverse grounding in both Aboriginal culture and white Australia. She attended boarding college in Adelaide, is well read, went to Uni for three unfinished degrees and has traveled the world. She also spent her youth growing up around the mines in remote regions of Northern Territory with her indigenous friend Hazel. Their childhood immersed in Aboriginal culture, myths, legends and teachings. We soon also find out that Emily is adaptable, stubborn, opinionated and tough as nails!

In search of her roots, Emily has returned to her childhood home - Moonlight Downs, a remote Aboriginal camp in outback Northern Territory. She has hardly settled-in when Hazel's father Lincoln, the camp's elder is found murdered in a seemingly ritualistic fashion.

The enigmatic Aboriginal sorcerer Blakie, who is camped nearby becomes the prime suspect. Many of the Moonlight Downs mob are scared of Blakie and even suspect he is a little unbalanced in the top paddock. He is also hard to catch! Emily's belief in Blakie's guilt gradually diminishes throughout the novel as a range of other characters reveal compelling motives. As in the second novel Emily is dogmatic in her pursuit of answers, and stirs up a hornets nest until justice is cleverly and poetically served.

The pace is slightly different to Gunshot Road, with the investigation and plot taking a little longer to fully develop. However the void is filled with fantastic descriptions of life in a remote settlement for both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. Hyland doesn't shy away away from the bad stuff - the racism, alcoholism, delinquency and abuse that occurs, but he delivers it with a touch of humour and even optimism.

This is a brilliant debut novel by Adrian Hyland with a well-researched plot and wonderfully crafted characters. It is a thoroughly deserving winner of the 2007 Ned Kelly award for best first crime fiction novel and I recommend it to all purveyors of Australian crime fiction.

MY RATING: 4.8/5

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review, I really liked this book, too. It is a very powerful, and poetic, debut. I just discovered your blog via Fair Dinkum crime so look forward to reading it.