The author of the acclaimed Only Killers and Thieves returns to 1890s Australia in this powerful sequel that follows the story of Tommy and Billy McBride, the widow of their family’s killer Katherine Sullivan, and the infamous Native Police officer Edmund Noone.
In 1890, estranged brothers Tommy and Billy McBride are living far apart in Queensland, each dealing with the trauma that destroyed their family in different ways. Now 21, Billy bottles his guilt and justifies his crimes while attempting to revive his father’s former cattle run. He’s drawn to his boss’s widow, Katherine Sullivan, yet refuses to confront his feelings for her. Katherine cherishes her newfound independence, and struggles to establish herself as head of the vast Broken Ridge cattle empire her corrupt late husband controlled with violence and money.
But even in the outback, the past cannot stay buried forever. When the McBride family murders and the subsequent reprisal slaughter of the Kurrong people become the subjects of a judicial inquest, both Billy and infamous Police Inspector Edmund Noone are called to testify. The inquiry forces Billy to relive events he has long refused to face. He desperately needs to find his brother, Tommy, who for years has been surviving in the wilderness with Arthur, the McBrides’ Indigenous stockman. But Billy is not the only one looking for Tommy. The ruthless Noone is determined to find the young man as well, and silence the brothers for good.
An enthralling, propulsive adventure that builds in suspense, told in gorgeous prose and steeped in history and atmosphere, Dust Off the Bones raises timeless issues of injustice, honor, morality, endemic racism, and violence. With an unflinching eye, Paul Howarth examines the cruelty of power and the brutal realities of life in a world familiar to our own.