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The body of Japanese industrialist Kenji Sagawa was found in one of his firm's own threshing machines at the cotton gin that had brought prosperity, but also tension, to the little country town of Collamundra. When local police make no headway in the search for the killer, Inspector Scobie Malone is glad to be called down from Sydney - his family are staying with friends in Collamundra.
But Scobie quickly finds this is far from a working holiday. The locals make it clear they resent his presence as his enquiries cut through the easygoing corruption of the establishment. He is drawn into local racial conflict when a lone Aboriginal cop becomes a focus for stresses on both sides. Most of all Scobie becomes osessed by the unsolved murder, seventeen years before, of the wife of one of Collamundra's most prominent citizens.
As the list of suspects grows, and Collamundra fills with strangers arriving for the annual horseracing cup, tensions escalate. Then a surprise discovery slots the pieces of jigsaw suddenly into place.
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