Set in the mid and late 19th century, this Gothic story with literary echoes should captivate and entertain on a number of levels. The narrative advances in a twofold direction: one from the point of view of authentic fictional voices. We are initially offered the perspective of a retired Sydney medico, Dr Telford Balladay, and an eager young Lutheran missionary, the Reverend Jonas Neubling and his capable wife, Hermione.
Through a series of chance meetings and from a common link through Jonas and Hermione's close relative, Emma Baumgartner, this unlikely trio embark on a quest to find a 'nugget'of germane information among Telford father's bequeathed personal papers - and those of of a Lord Theodore Bennington, an official in the New South Wales Government - the latter being purchased at an auction in 1890. [Part I].
The book then takes the form of a series of letters written firstly by Lord Bennington [Part II] and then by Sebastian, Telfords's younger brother, a pastoralist seeking to win his spurs and find fortune in the Brisbane River Valley |Part III].
As they delve deeper into the history of the Kilcoy massacre, and the various participants' their lives and motivations, Telford, Jonas and Hermione, plus Johnson, Telford's former medical assistant, lead us through the second perspective of the book - the unravelling of the events of the actual massacre at Kilcoy. They uncover, by means of authorial, interpretative and fact-based voice, an epic tale of mass poisoning, 'while-black' complexity, official bungling and inaction, squatter codes of silence and much more in a damping down the massacre's effects on the early European settlement.
This is an eloquent page-tuner that explores tough themes and confronts the reader with twists and unexpected offerings. It is an epic story that should satisfy in several ways - particularly along historical and fictional lines.