Dust Off The Bones by Paul Howarth – Review.

About The Book

Death follows young Tommy McBride everywhere. Five years ago his family was murdered, and now a freak accident sends him fleeing into the wilderness of the Australian outback with a man lying dead in his wake. But Tommy is haunted by even worse – as children, he and his brother Billy witnessed the state-sanctioned massacre of the Indigenous Kurrong people by the ruthless Native Police Inspector Noone, and they haven’t seen each other since.

When an official inquiry is launched into the massacre, the successful life that Billy has built for himself comes under threat. He sets off in search of his long lost brother, but isn’t the only one on Tommy’s trail―Inspector Noone is looking for him too, and will do anything to stop the truth from coming to light.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I really enjoyed the previous book in this series, Only Killers And Thieves, so was looking forward to seeing how Billy and Tommy were coping after their traumatic childhood. Both had handled the events differently and had gone their separate ways. Each of them are focused on, as well as Katherine, Billy’s wife, and Henry a human rights lawyer who has a personal life he would prefer to be kept secret. All of them have continued to be affected by the actions of the native police and in particular Edmund Noone, who is one of the most intimidating characters I have come across in fiction. His character was one of those that made me feel I should prepare for the worst that anybody could do.

Neither Tommy or Billy coped easily, Tommy was more transparent. You knew that he struggled with the nightmares and loneliness. Billy kept his feelings close to his chest and came across as uncaring and more concerned with his image and wealth. I didn’t care for the way he treated his elder son but had to remind myself he was a working man who had to think of his family future. Which had no room for books or schooling. 

As well as the characters I loved the description of Australia. Having experienced Melbourne City, Gippsland and the Australian bush I could see it clearly. I can’t imagine factories in Melbourne but I could appreciate the remoteness of the bush setting where you can travel for miles without seeing a dwelling or any type of community. Nice to travel through but I definitely wouldn’t like to live in it!

A wonderful novel that left me aching for more, wanting to know more of Australian history and how the different communities learned to live alongside each other. I would like nothing more than to read about the descendants of all of these characters.

Only Killers And Thieves by Paul Howarth – Review.


About the Book

One scorching day in Australia deserted outback, Tommy McBride and his brother Billy return home to discover that their parents have been brutally murdered.

Distraught and desperate for revenge, the young men set out in search of the killers. But the year is 1885, and the only man who can help them is the cunning and ruthless John Sullivan wealthy landowner and their father’s former employer.

Rallying a posse of men, Sullivan defers to the deadly Inspector Noone and his Queensland Native Police an infamous arm of colonial power whose sole purpose is the dispersal of Indigenous Australians in protection of settler rights. The retribution that follows will leave a lasting scar on the colony and the country it later becomes. It will also haunt Tommy for the rest of his life.

Set against Australia s stunningly harsh landscapes, Only Killers and Thieves is a compelling, devastating novel about cruelty and survival, injustice and honour and about two brothers united in grief, then forever torn apart.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.I read a lot of historical fiction but this is the first that I have read that is set in Australia and also the one with the biggest impact. It is set in Queensland in 1885 at a troubling time with the white settlers determined to remove the Indigenous Australians from the land that they want for their own. I had heard of the horrific events that had happened but I had never heard of the role that the Native Police played.
It is a fascinating book to read, often upsetting, often sickening but it’s also humbling and shows the different ways of coping with grief. Both Tommy and Billy cope in different ways,Billy is determined to be just like the men they are with, and he wants to prove himself and Tommy is determined not to be.
There is some violence, you couldn’t really expect anything else with a book like this, but it’s almost like being in the background. It does happen, sometimes with graphic descriptions, but most of the novel focuses on the increasing differences between the two brothers and the volatile situation in the group. There are more horrible people than nice ones, some could show compassion and understanding but then they would show their true colours in other ways. The second part of the novel which is only short shows that attitudes don’t really change but there was a chance to make amends.
It is an important piece of fiction, brilliantly written with plenty of compassion and understanding. Highly recommended and I’m sure it will be one of my top books for 2018.