This book gives a fictionalised account of the capture of Patrick and James Kenniff, leaders of a gang of bushrangers in western Queensland around the turn of the twentieth century. They were wanted by police for a string of cattle and horse thefts, and also for murder, and had been evading capture for years.
“… it says they’ve got lights now in Brisbane city. Electric lights, I mean. Along the river and in the centre of town.”
“The next day tribesman came across the sand to meet them. The faces of the men were painted white above thick beards, and their torsos were marked with lines of the white paint. They wore high pointed grass headdresses and bones through their noses and bore bark targes on their arms. They slapped spears against the targes and so they saw the riders off.”
“King Edward showed Nixon tracks that went into the sand. Tracks that came from nowhere and went nowhere.”
“He thinks the outlaws always get outta gaol. That the troopers never hit a thing they aim at and that bandits never miss. That we end every day with bullets skippin into the dirt about our horses’ feet while we ride into the sunset unassailed unto whiskey and women.”
“The working classes in this country, they come from convicts, and they are inoculated with the virus of destruction.”
In an interview, the author said that with his writing, he was “trying to strip out anything the reader can fill in for themselves”, and that is what I really liked about this book. Characters’ actions are not over-explained, and their dialogue is credible. Descriptions are short but powerful.
The opinion of others:
- Readings: “This is the seventh book by Patrick Holland, who is quietly eking out his place as one of this country’s most accomplished writers. Each of his books is sure-footed and incredibly interesting, and with One he has definitely retained this reputation.”