I stumble upon couple of novels from Arthur Upfield in my mother library. It had Australian Aboriginal art on the cover and of course I was intrigued. The French translation was disastrous but you could grasp how rich and subtle were the stories, a thoughtful description of the Australian outback between 1940 and 1960.
I could only imagine it was not really different while Ape was running in the bush in search of gems and treasures.
I am in the middle of “The will of the tribe” for now. It’s taking place in the Kimberley a region I always dream of going someday since I saw Ape’s picture on a door of his mother’s apartment.
A body has been found in a meteorite crater named the wolf creek crater but in the novel it is called Lucifer’s couch. Napoleon Bonaparte (Bony) Upfield’s hero, a half cast investigator, is sent to discover how the victim arrived there. The authorities are less interested in solving the murder than finding out how the arrival of this man in the region was unnoticed from the white and the aboriginal community: How did this body reach this most unusual crime scene without any trace?
Bony settle in the closest cattle station to investigate. Upfield has a delicate and subtle way to portray the racial contrasts and different communities.
Bony has strong opinions on the forced aboriginal assimilation by the whites but his vision is amazingly brilliant and unusual because of his own origins. He plays well all his cards and uses to his advantage the fact that aboriginals and whites are underestimating his deep knowledge of the human heart and culture gaps.