I’m the author of eight published novels, including a trio of crime novels set in Canberra. The first of my crime series, The Trojan Dog, was joint winner ACT Book of the Year, and the Age gave it their ‘Best of 2000’ in the crime section. It was published in Australia by Wakefield Press and in the United States by St Martin’s Press. The second, The White Tower, was also published in Australia and North America, and the third, Eden, appeared in 2007. All three feature the cyber-sleuth Sandra Mahoney and her partner, Ivan Semyonov, along with Detective Sergeant Brook, of the ACT police. With Eden, I returned to the subject of prostitution, which has long interested me and provided inspiration. My first novel, Tunnel Vision, is set in a Melbourne massage parlour. One of my literary novels, The House at Number 10, imagines Canberra from a sex-worker’s point of view. I’ve also published non-fiction pieces on the subject, including A Script With No Words. Two of my literary novels, One for the Master and Ruth, have been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin award. Maralinga My Love is set during the time of the atomic bomb tests at Maralinga, in South Australia. I’ve had numerous short stories published in magazines and Anthologies. I’ve completed an historical novel, Children of Ghosts and a novella, Ashes from the Headland. I’m currently working on a sea-change mystery series, set at the home of ‘Sea-change’, the TV series, on the south coast of Victoria. The first of these is called Through a Camel’s Eye. I’m also putting together a collection of my prostitution stories, Nine Pieces on Prostitution, which span my writing career from its beginnings in the early1980s to the present. I regularly review fiction for the Sydney Morning Herald. I’ve been a guest speaker at the Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, and Salamanca festivals, at the Canberra Word Festival, and both Australian Sisters in Crime conferences. Overseas invitations have included the Salzburg seminar on contemporary fiction, and residencies at Ledig House, International Writers Colony, New York and Lavigny in Switzerland. I’m a founding member of the influential ‘7 Writers’ group, which began meeting in Canberra in the early 1980s, and continued as a writers’ workshop and discussion group for almost twenty years. The seven are: Margaret Barbalet, Sara Dowse, Marian Eldridge, Suzanne Edgar, Marion Halligan, Dorothy Horsfield and myself. The other subject which continues to fascinate me from a literary point of view is Canberra, Australia’s national capital, where I lived for thirty years before returning to Victoria. Canberra features often in my fiction, and my feelings about the city are summed up in my essay, Disturbing Undertones. One for the Master, The Trojan Dog, The White Tower, The House at Number 10 and Eden can be bought directly from Wakefield Press.
According to local legend, the historic Royal hotel in the Victorian coastal town of Queenscliff is haunted. Having served as both a mental asylum and a morgue in the early days it could hardly fail to be, but a bizarre murder in the hotel's basement puts a decidedly eerie spin on things.
The victim is an academic, obsessed with spiritualism, the tarot and the town's most famous literary resident, Henry Handel Richardson. From the outset, the local knowledge and unorthodox methods of Queenscliff's police officers, Chris Blackie and Anthea Merritt, are ridiculed by the bull-necked Detective Inspector Masterson from Geelong's CIU. And yet, hard-nosed police investigation practices seem ill-equipped to counter the otherworldly influences at play.
What DI Masterson believes is an open and shut case turns out to be anything but.
Anthea began creating a large cross with the cards. She looked up and smiled. 'I tell you what's ironic. I got into trouble for buying my own tarot pack and now Mrs Marr's using the tarot to bamboozle the inspector. I'm the only one who's done her homework and knows what the cards mean.'
Gerard Hardy's Misfortune joins Through a Camel's Eye and The Swan Island Connection as the latest, most intriguing instalment in Dorothy Johnston's sea-change mystery series.