Margaret Thatcher Gandarrwuy is an internationally renowned Aboriginal artist from the remote Mission Hole community in the Northern Territory. Her works command high prices - until a new painting is unveiled. It is discovered slashed, with the words hastily scrawled across it, 'The artist is a thief'. Is the artist a thief? Is she to blame, or is she the victim of somebody else's fraud?
This is a philosophical detective novel with a difference, set in a world where everyone but the 'detective' knows the rules. Jean-Loup Wild, a Melbourne financial consultant sent by ATSIC to Mission Hole, is caught between the art world, with its wealth, fashions, heroes and sophisticated private language, and the Aboriginal community with its poverty, social problems, kinship ties and unchanging traditional law. If Jean-Loup can find the artist he can begin to find the secret of what has been happening at Mission Hole. He can begin, also, to understand how the layers of that mystery lie deep in the bedrock of Australian society.