One of the most exciting announcements of 2014 concerning classic mystery novels came to us from Australia, where the family of the late Arthur W. Upfield is in the process of re-releasing and re-publishing all of Upfield's work, including 29 mysteries featuring Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte. This is going to give me the opportunity to write about more of Bony's appearances - something I had been reluctant to do while the books were out of print.
So let me start today with one of my favorites: Man of Two Tribes, one of the later books, first published in 1956. It is the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the entire review by clicking here.
Man of Two Tribes begins with the disappearance of a woman named Myra Thomas. She had been accused of killing her husband, but a jury had acquitted her of murder. Now, Myra Thomas herself had gone missing. She was last seen on board a train that crossed the Nullarbor Plain, a vast desert wasteland in southern Australia. A search along the train line and in the few small villages where the train had stopped turned up no clues.
Six months later, Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte got off a train and began another search for Myra Thomas, setting out across the enormous and dangerous plain with only the company of two camels and a dog. He is puzzled by what appear to be efforts to throw him off the trail – to send him searching in the wrong direction. But when he eventually does find out what has happened…well, that introduces some elements that even Bony had not expected. That includes a murder, of course, and a group of possible suspects – all of whom had murdered someone earlier in their lives. And, ultimately, Bony will have to help them all make their way – on foot – across literally hundreds of miles of the Nullarbor Plain…and the plain itself may be the greatest threat to their survival and their sanity.
If you're familiar with Bony - and, as all his friends call him that, you and I may do so as well - you know that he is half-White, half-Aborigine and has inherited critical skills from both his parents. He will need both those sets of skills to survive in this book.
I really welcome the decision to re-release these books. So far, they have been released in hard-cover (at a not-unreasonable price), but they are also available in a variety of e-book formats at less than half the price. I can't recommend them highly enough. And Man of Two Tribes, even though it's relatively late in the series, is an excellent starting place.
The 2015 Bingo Challenge
I have already mentioned that I am participating in the 2015 Vintage Mystery Bingo challenge. The Bingo card has 36 squares to be filled by reading a book appropriate to each square's instructions. Man of Two Tribes is my entry for the square (second row, second column) that calls for a book with a number or quantity in the title. We're off and running!