Thursday, April 30, 2015


Arthur Upfield’s Wings Above the Diamantina (1936) is the third in Upfield’s Australian Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte series.

Authorities call in Bony to investigate the strange case of a red airplane landed in the dry bottom of Emu Lake.

The only person in the airplane is in the passenger’s seat. She is in an unexplained coma.

Bony works hard to unravel what happened. All the time he is aware if he can’t quickly solve the case, the young woman will die.

And Bony does not work alone. A local policeman, several other friends and officials (including a drunken doctor), and an aboriginal chief help solve the case. Boney hopes the aboriginal chief can use his bush knowledge to save the woman.

For a while the story plods along as Bony struggles to get a handle on the case, but when it breaks open, it breaks open with a vengeance. We see an epic Australian sand storm, massive rainstorms, and the annual flooding of the Diamantina and other rivers.

Bony and his friends get caught in the floods.

By the end of the book, Bony has helped bring two couples together. He has helped the local policeman get a promotion, and he has kept intact his record of solving every one of his cases. (There will come a time when he doesn’t, but that’s another story.)

Those who know the Bony (pronounced Bone-y) books know that Bony is a half-breed, half Aborigine and half Caucasian. This mixture is what makes him the most successful detective in Australia. He can track and use his aboriginal skills, but he also understands the “civilized” world where he often works.

These are wonderful stories. They have been hard to find, but now they are available as e-books for the Kobo reader. In addition, I think the publishers have put them out as PDFs which work on many e-readers. Also, I understand readers can find Upfield’s books in libraries through inner-library loan.

I started this series with a few paperback Upfield books I found on a library discard table. Now I read the books on the Kobo reader. 

You can find my reviews of the other Bony books bookmarked in “Joe’s Reading Lists” at the right.

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