Friday, November 16, 2012

The Bone Is Pointed: Review

The Bone Is Pointed is the sixth novel in Arthur W. Upfield's detective series featuring Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte.  It is the second of the these novels which I have read.  In this outing Bony is called to the bush country where a man went missing five months ago.  Few people really care what happened to Jack Anderson.  He was a cruel man with a nasty temper...a man who wasn't afraid to use his whip on those who crossed him.  Have the bush men exacted revenge for his beating of one of their own?  Has his rival in love disposed of him?  Or has something else happened to him.  Bony must follow the clues along a trail long gone cold--but he is half aboriginal himself and knows the ways of the back country.  And....he has never left a case unsolved yet.  

But it looks like he might have to.  As his sharp eyes pick out small signs along the missing man's last known trail, there are those who are worried.  And they're not afraid to use bush country magic to curse this outsider who seems to have magic of his own when it comes to unearthing secrets they would prefer to stay buried.  Can Bony fight the "boning" magic that most back country men believe can kill?  He'll have to if he's to get to the bottom of the disappearance of Anderson.

This is a solid mystery novel.  Upfield's writing is, as it was in his other novel (An Author Bites the Dust), full of intelligent prose and fine detail.  He gives us plenty of information about the beliefs and practices of the Australian aborigines of the early 20th C.  The descriptions of the bush country and the rabbit migration in particular are quite spectacular.  Unfortunately, the mystery itself and Bony's investigation were not quite as compelling in this one.  I found myself a bit exasperated with the inspector's feeling of inferiority which drives him to his perfect record.  He can't leave the case unsolved no matter how cold the trail, how few the clues, or how sick the "boning" makes him.  Not because he wants to see justice done, but because his pride won't stand it.  The theme gets a little old after a while, and I'm glad that it did not make such an emphatic appearance in Author....or I might not be willing to try any more of the series.

I did appreciate Bony's very humane way of wrapping up the case and I enjoyed the story overall.  A solid three star mystery.

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