Sunday, November 25, 2012

THE NEW SHOE by Arthur W. Upfield

The unique Australian setting always impacts Arthur W. Upfield’s Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte stories. 

The New Shoe takes place at the edge of the sea. Someone has murdered an unidentified person and stored his body in an equipment locker at the Lorne lighthouse. 

The lighthouse now works automatically, without a keeper. When the engineer who inspects the equipment arrives for an unexpected visit, he finds the body.

Bony goes undercover, as he often does. He befriends the local coffin maker. He finds Lorne to be a tight community fighting change. The solution to the mystery involves getting to know the people and their history.

As always, patience and careful observation are Bony’s ways to solve the mystery. He lives in the community. He talks to the locals. He pieces together the sad backstory which led to the murder. 

The New Shoe’s setting makes this book different. The other Upfield books I’ve read have been set in places such as the Australian desert.

This story begins with a moving scene of Bony watching as the rough sea engulfs a baby penguin. The sea’s harshness is part of the story. 

This was a perfect book to read on my Thanksgiving vacation.  

Upfield tells his slowly unfolding story in what are often long, rambling sentences. The sentences always embody something of the beauty of the landscape. The long descriptions add to the story.

I found my first Bony books on a library throw-away table. I find it hard to understand why anyone would throw away books like these.


George said...

I've read about a dozen Upfield mysteries, but not this one. Sounds good!

Jerry House said...

I have always found Bony a fascinating character, yet when I suggested his works at a mystery reading group a number of years ago, every person hated the books. Go figure.

Joe Barone said...

George, This is a good book. It especially appeals to me because it is set in a different part of Australia.

Jerry, Bony fascinates me for all kinds of reasons. He is of mixed race. His whole method of investigation comes out of his Aborigine heritage. Also, I find these books more evocative of a place I'll never see than any any other set-piece books I read.

Richard R. said...

Every time I read a review of an Upfield novel, I think I should read one. I have several on the shelf. Maybe this time...

Joe Barone said...

Richard, I certainly enjoy them.

Ron Smyth said...

I've read most of the Boney books and thoroughly enjoyed them. Even when the mystery itself is not great Upfield's ability to make a place with which I am completely unfamiliar come to life with his wonderful descriptions makes them well worth reading.

Joe Barone said...

Ron, You've hit what I like about them too. Bony's method of detection--patience and observation--sometimes make the mysteries unfold slowly, but even then, I love the settings and the character of Bony. I am hoping more mystery story readers get to know Bony.