Bartulin back where it all began
INFAMY By Lenny Bartulin ( Allen and Unwin) RRP: $ 29.99
NOW living in the Blue Mountains, author Lenny Bartulin recently returned to his hometown of Hobart for a year to research his latest novel Infamy .
Set in Van Diemen’s Land in the 1830s, Bartulin delves into the dark and often disturbing world of the fledgling colony.
Juxtaposing the order and civilisation of Hobart Town with the wild, turbulence of the bush, the two different worlds often cross over as those in power become outlaws and the criminals attempt to take over control.
Bounty hunter William Burr leaves behind the lush and adventurous world of British Honduras for Hobart after receiving a letter from friend and chief magistrate of the city, John McQuillan.
With a promise of a 1000 acre reward from Lieutenant Governor George Arthur, Burr is charged with hunting down the notorious outlaw Brown George Coyne.
Leading a band of misfit escaped convicts, Coyne has stumbled across a huge source of gold and seeks to re- establish Van Diemen’s Land as a place he decides to call “Alluvium” under his own rule.
But first he, with the help of the corrupt District Police Magistrate Stephen Vaughan, must overthrow Lieutenant Arthur and his regime.
The fast- paced novel traces several narratives which intersect with each other as the story progresses.
The treatment of Aboriginal Australians is depicted in a brutally honest way, drawn from records, letters and journals researched by the author.
Vivid descriptions of the landscape set the reader within the streets of Hobart: “She reached St David’s Cathedral, looking up at its green- copper spire but resisting any prayers, then hesitated on the corner of Macquarie St before turning left. “On the opposite side, not too far along, Government House came into view, shadowed in the declining light.”
The unique, untamed wild is also richly described as Burr leads a manhunt to track down the murderous Coyne.
“Burr wasn’t used to the dirt- brown wallabies and wombats, or the small but ferocious black-furred animal that once or twice had crashed through the bush suddenly with a harsh, hissing screech, or the harsh dry screech of some of the birds that broke his daydreaming.
“Though he’d seen eucalyptus trees before, he’d never seen them in such profusion ...
“Mainly, it was all just undulating hills of dark brown- green, unchanging to the eye.”
Essentially creating a new genre, this Australian Western draws on Tasmania’s early penal history and results in a highly original concept and storyline which will keep you intrigued until the final page.