In 1934, the year of the Great Depression, 15-year-old Neil arrives on the Adelaide gold fields with his parents, who are desperately hoping to find some gold and rebuild their poverty stricken lives. But it is not going to be easy. The fields are hot and dry, the mosquitoes plentiful and tensions run high between the diggers. And the nearest policemen are located miles away. The arrival of the Americans Ivan and his daughter Kitty, sets the gold fields alight with intrigue. Are Ivan and Kitty really runaways from a passing circus? Is it true that Ivan has killed a man? And is Kitty really Ivan s daughter? Kitty soon attracts the rival attentions of Neil and wealthy land owner s son Humphrey Bartle. However when Kitty witnesses Neil accidentally wounding an apostle bird with a shot from his catapult, he despairs that she will never talk to him again. And the only person who can help the bird is Hooky Chen, one of the field s most eccentric characters, but Neil has been ordered by his parents not to speak to him...Things come to a head when flooding rains sweep the gold fields and one of the diggers is found dead in a creek with his gold missing.
Suspicion immediately falls on Ivan and Kitty. The miners form an angry group to hunt the two Americans down. Can Neil warn them in time? Otherwise, it s the hangman s noose for Kitty...
Garry Disher is one of Australia s best-known authors. He worked as a writing lecturer between the years 1980 and 1988, before becoming a full-time writer. He has published over forty books, including THE DIVINE WIND (shortlisted for the 1999 CBC Book of the Year for Older Readers), FROM YOUR FRIEND, LOUIS DEANE (a CBC Notable Book) and MOONDYNE KATE.