Bar­tulin back where it all be­gan

IN­FAMY By Lenny Bar­tulin ( Allen and Un­win) RRP: $ 29.99

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - BOOKS - JES­SICA HOWARD

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.

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