THE TALL MAN - Chloe Hooper

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

The last thing THE TALL MAN needs is another review - the book is winning awards left right and centre at the moment.  I must confess it wasn't a book I was particularly looking forward to reading, suspecting that the subject matter was going to be very very confronting.  After it won the DAVITT AWARD from the Sisters in Crime, the judges comments on the night, were the little extra push required to make me stop dithering (well sooking really) and pick up the book.

Whilst I'm very very glad I finally did, reading THE TALL MAN was not a pleasant, easy or necessarily an ultimately satisfying task.  Not, I hasten to add because of the standard of the writing, but because there's is no resolution to the mess that is Palm Island and the death of Cameron Doomadgee in particular, and white-Australia's relationship with the Indigenous People in general.

But then there are some very unpleasant, unbelievable and just flat out unsatisfactory and unacceptable aspects to the story of Palm Island and death of Doomadgee.  (For some reason I still can't seem to get out of my head the fact that when Australia did the last census report - 2006 - Palm Island was "forgotten".  How the hell do you "forget" an entire community?  Just to add insult to injury it's a community that many many indigenous people were forcibly moved to.... it beggars belief).  

There are aspects to the way that this community was setup, works and lives which are confrontational, and there are aspects to the death of Doomadgee and to the subsequent investigation, inquest and trials which just don't do a lot to give you much faith in justice, or even in the truth being paramount.  THE TALL MAN delivers this story in a matter-of-fact, restrained, observant and respectful manner.  There's no sensationalism of the events, it's up to the reader to draw their own conclusions.  

It's a book that had to be written, and it really is a book that should be read.

Year of Publication

This is the story of Palm Island, the tropical paradise where one morning Cameron Doomadgee swore at a policeman and forty minutes later lay dead in a watch-house cell.

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