• Ian Ayris

Classic Review: The Widows of Broome by Arthur Upfield



Arthur Upfield was an Australian novelist of the first half of the twentieth century, his central character - a detective from the CIB (Central Investigation Branch) going by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte is the very epitome of intelligence and tenacity - a sort of antipodean mix of Maigret and Sherlock Holmes.

In The Widows of Broome, we find Bony - yes, that really is his moniker - in Broome, Western Australia. Two attractive widows have been strangled in their beds, prior to which their washing lines have been divested of a silk nightgown. Another nightgown is on the floor beside their beds - ripped in half, and a bag containing their silk underwear torn to ribbons is hidden in a corner of their wardrobes.

Among the inhabitants of the small town of Broome is a murderer of a particular kind of woman, and a hatred that runs so deep, he is prepared to kill for it.

Along with the local police, Mr Dickenson (the town drunk) and a police tracker and petrol sniffing addict by the name of Abie - Bony sets to work.

The novel is full of suspects, all valid. Even those closest to the investigation come into the reader's mind as possible perpertrators. Bony plays his cards very close to his chest, so to speak, and with the climax coming just several pages from the end, the novel is real edge of your seat stuff.

The Widows of Broome is the twelfth Upfield novel featuring Napoleon Bonapart and though a little dated, is no less enjoyable for it.

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