The motive for murder is literary, and Upfield himself surely had a lot invested in what he wrote.
At one point in the story, Australia’s Detective-Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte (Bony) asks an intelligent friend about a popular novel. She says of the author, “He can paint word pictures and tell a story, but he lacks the gift of taking pains.”
She says a gift with language, the ability to tell a story, and enough dedication to take the pains to write a good story are three things needed for great literature.
In this book, Bony investigates the murder of a critic who failed as a novelist. His death appears to have come about because of natural causes. He is a man who spent his life attempting to destroy commercial writing, well-written popular writing.
In the end, his snobbery was his undoing. In exposing the murderer, Bony reveals the victim’s hypocrisy.
All this has to do with literature. What is great literature? Can commercially successful books also be great literature? And is there a band of snobbish critics who promote poorly written non-selling books over best sellers? (Surely the popular author Arthur W. Upfield had strong feelings about all this!)
The murderer in An Author Bites the Dust has a literary motive. The murderer’s method is unusual, but Upfield assures us that such a method does exist.
As the story unfolds, the murderer kills a second man. Then the murderer attempts to murder Bony.
Bony uses his tracking skills, even in this mostly non-rural setting in Victoria near Mt. Donna Buang.
An Author Bites the Dust has Upfield’s usual detailed descriptions of nature and of inside settings.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. I always enjoy reading about Bony.