Patricia Carlon (1927-2002) was born in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, but during her life was mostly unknown / under-appreciated by publishers in Australia. Fortunately she lived just long enough to see local interest revive in her work, but not long enough to see the justified increased interest.
Johnnie is a nine-year old city orphan (his mother is dead, his father in prison). He has recently been placed with Stuart and Kay Heath, a childless couple who live in the Australian outback on a cattle station which Stuart manages for its wealthy owner. Hoping for a "real" boy, they are bitterly disappointed. Johnnie is not quite the foster child they had in mind: he is "cheeky and lazy, cowardly and stubborn." So when he claims to have witnessed a murder they remind him of the boy who cried wolf.
But then Johnnie and Kay are invited on a camping trip. A special treat to give Johnnie another chance to adjust to life in the outback? Or a cunning trap by a ruthless killer?.