A bad-tempered squatter is murdered in country Victoria and the local townsfolk are swept up in the rush to solve the crime. Will the squatter’s beautiful daughter, Flora McAlpin, save her lover from the gallows? Or is the circumstantial evidence against him too strong?
Ellen Davitt’s Force and Fraud: A Tale of the Bush is a feisty account of a murder investigation in the colonies that takes the twists and turns of English sensation fiction in a uniquely Australian direction. The novel brings an innovative forensic eye to its crime, reinventing the squatter romance as it takes its characters from country to city and from public house to courthouse. Force and Fraud was serialised in the popular, long-running Australian Journal from 2 September to 18 November 1865.
This edition includes an introduction by Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver.
‘a romance with a tight mystery plot . . . an assured whodunit’
– Lucy Sussex, Blockbuster! Fergus Hume and the Mystery of a Hansom Cab (2015)
‘Force and Fraud is pioneering in its status as the first murder mystery in Australia’
– Kate Watson, Women Writing Crime Fiction, 1860-1880 (2012)
Ellen Davitt (1812-1879) is the author of the first Australian murder mystery. Davitt moved to Australia in 1854 and served as the superintendent of the Model and Normal School in East Melbourne. After her husband’s death in 1860, Davitt began writing, and though most of her early work has been lost, her novels and novellas have been recovered from the Australian Journal, including Force and Fraud: A Tale from the Bush. The Davitt Award was created in 2001 in her honour to celebrate crime writing women in Australia.
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