DIAMOND DOVE - Adrian Hyland
The author, Adrian Hyland, spent many years living and working with indigenous people in the Northern Territory; DIAMOND DOVE is a story told with a great deal of affection for the people. Their spiritual connection to the land and its native animals is particularly well described. He makes no attempt to gloss over the dysfunctional aspects of life in the remoter areas of the Northern Territory, both European and Aboriginal.Emily regards her community with a mixture of deep love and exasperation at the destructiveness of some of the behaviour she witnesses.
There are other issues raised in the book. The inevitable clash of cultures and lack of understanding that results. Conflicting interests of farming, mining and aboriginal land claims, the politicization of these interests and the odd mix of people who seem to be attracted to such remote areas. The real achievement that Hyland has managed to pull off is the fact that he vividly portrays all these aspects of life in the outback without making any judgements and without trying to push the reader down the path towards a particular opinion. He leaves that entirely up to the individual.
Hyland has also injected a wonderful dry humour into the book. Expressions such as "dry as emus knees", "he belonged to the von Ribbentrop school of negotiation" and "been taking deportment lessons from a Rottweiler" are genuinely funny. The author also has a gift for description; " Gladys herself was a battleship on stilts. She wasn't much older than me, but she'd exploded in every direction. She was immensely tall, immensely fat, wearing a green dress and a coiffure that looked like it had been fashioned with a splitting axe."
Like the precious stone, DIAMOND DOVE is a rich gem of a book and one not to be missed.
Emily Tempest has been away from Central Australia for a long time - uni, travel, dead-end jobs. Finding trouble all over the world. Now she's back at Moonlight Downs, the community where she grew up, half in the Aboriginal world, half in the white. And true to form, there's trouble. An old friend brutally murdered and mutilated. An old enemy the only suspect. Until Emily starts asking questions.
Take a nail-biting mystery, an epic setting and a heroine with a talent for stirring things up. Throw in an affectionate flogging of outback Australia's melanoma-encrusted hide - and Diamond Dove may be the wittiest and most gripping debut of the year.
(Now released overseas under the title Moonlight Downs)