In Arthur W. Upfield’s 1937 mystery Winds of Evil, the setting is part of the motive.
Australian Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte (Bony) sets out to solve two murders. Both murders occurred during massive sand storms at Wirragatta Station in the Australian outback.
While Bony investigates, the murderer attacks three more people including Bony. All the attacks occur during sandstorms.
At one point, Upfield writes, “To those having the eyes to see and the soul to feel, the great plains of inland Australia present countless facets of beauty: these same plains offer to the man with good eyesight, but a shrivelled soul, nothing other than arid desert.”
Upfield fills Winds of Evil with beautiful and terrifying descriptions. The sandstorms themselves help create a murderer. And Bony uncovers the heart-wrenching backstory of how that happened.
As always, Bony’s mixed race makes him a better detective. And again as always, Bony sees himself, not as a policeman, but as one of the greatest detectives ever to have lived.
When you couple the unique (probably now much-changed) setting and the not-so-humble Bony, you have wonderful stories.
Winds of Evil is the fifth in what (if I counted correctly) is a 28-book series.
Upfield’s Bony books are now readily available in electronic editions.