Death in Dreamtime was published by Wakefield Crime Classics in 1993. Originally published in 1959, S H Courtier is one of the classic crime fiction authors in Australia who is little known / commented on. Which is a pity.
In Death in Dreamtime Jock Corless ends up at Ungimillia, home of The Alchera or Dream Time Land - a sort of "theme park" of Aboriginal mythology. He's travelled through to New South Wales in response to a very cryptic letter from his cousin who, as Jock arrives, is found dead on the road.
Death in Dreamtime certainly reads like a novel from 1959 with a turn of phrase that comes directly from that era. Some of the characterisations are to be expected, Inspector 'Digger' Haig reminds you a bit of your returned soldier grandfather in his mannerisms and his language. There are two main female characters who are not as cliched as is often the case from books of this era, and best of all, there is a stagey but relatively sympathetic discussion of Aboriginal mythology and history which actually doesn't make you squirm from embarrassment.
Interestingly enough for me, living in the Dandenong Ranges, there is a central character in the park who seemed to me to remind me very strongly of William Ricketts and the famous William Ricketts sanctuary - not so far from where I live. The editors who bought these writers to Wakefield made the same observation in a short essay at the back of the book describing the circumstances around the book.
All in all I enjoyed this a whole lot more than I thought I would.
MURDER AT THE FORTNIGHT - Steve J Spears
Murder at The Fortnight is a darkly hilarious tale of murder, greed, fame and lust set squarely under the bright lights of the world of showbusiness. When celebs start dropping like flies at The Playwright's Fortnight, Stella and Ng must battle media hysteria and political backstabbing in their desperate search for a killer who keeps on killing. Who will be next?
MURDER AT THE FORTNIGHT is set in the testing arena of the "theatre" and the arts. Showbiz commentator, Stella Pentangelli is returning from a bit of a "rest" as it's known in the trade, after a stella career as a showbusiness commentator and heavyweight. Inspector Ng is an investigator in the police, renowned for his different methods and for not paying the slightest bit of attention to all the whispering about his slightly bizarre methods.
Steve J Spears is a renowned Australian playright, and in MURDER AT THE FORTNIGHT he's created a wonderfully eccentric, slightly stagey set of characters resolving the murder of a major TV executive and then an internationally renowned and universally loved, indigenous actor at "The Fortnight". The Fortnight is a yearly "event" for the theatre community, reading and workshopping plays, in a university theatre town, a long way from civilisation.
There's nothing even slightly realistic in the police system described in MURDER AT THE FORTNIGHT, even allowing for Ng's slightly eccentric methodology and this lack of accuracy creates a very stagey, very elaborately set murder mystery in which the lives of the investigator's are as much part of the story as the investigation itself.
Lovely, unusual and enjoyable as long as you're not looking for gritty reality.