For Robert Church, superintendent of the Parramatta Female Factory, the most enjoyable part of his job is access to young convict women. Inmate Grace O’Leary has made it her mission to protect the women from his nocturnal visits and when Church is murdered with an awl thrust through his right eye, she becomes the chief suspect.
Recently arrived from Port Macquarie, ticket-of-leave gentleman convict Hugh Monsarrat now lives in Parramatta with his ever-loyal Irish housekeeper Mrs Mulrooney, who has herself lived through the 1798 Irish Rebellion. Monsarrat, as an unofficial advisor on criminal and legal matters to the governor’s secretary, is charged with uncovering the truth of Church’s murder. Mrs Mulrooney accompanies him to the Female Factory, where he is taking depositions from prisoners, including Grace, and there the housekeeper strikes up friendships with certain women, which prove most intriguing.
Monsarrat and Mrs Mulrooney both believe that Grace is innocent, but in this they are alone, so to exonerate her they must find the murderer. Many hated Church and are relieved by his death, but who would go as far as killing him?
'The Keneallys have hit their straps with this Monsarrat outing... The climax is violent and disorienting.The third instalment of Monsarrat’s dangerous tour of the convict settlements of Australia can be anticipated with relish.'
– The Australian
'Meg and Tom Keneally, daughter and father, are on a roll with their crime series set during the early days of Australia's colonial settlement.'
– Sydney Morning Herald
Praise for The Soldier's Curse:
'The Keneallys have produced a murder mystery of admirable depth.' Sunday Times
‘The evocation of place and time is splendid.’ Mail on Sunday
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