Living where we do, a novel set in Daylesford is bound to create more than normal interest, so this is the reason that amongst so many new books, I chose to read The Unfortunate Victim. It was surprising, as there are really two unfortunate victims, one completely unexpected.
Greg Pyers, who grew up in Daylesford, takes the reader back to the 1860s, when the town was raw, still in the grip of gold fever. As a base for the yarn, he has taken the true story of a brutal murder, and using residents of the time, (some with changed names), he weaves a tale of obsession, lust and jealousy. He also introduces Detective Otto Berliner, who is as observant as ever was Sherlock Holmes, and who thinks that the local police are incompetent and lazy, arresting a man whom Berliner thinks is innocent. Without a weapon being found, but with the evidence of a pipe found in the cottage, which he swore was not his, David Rose, an itinerant worker, was taken into custody, and sentenced to death after a sketchy trial. Otto, having met him, says “he is a strange man a man I would not want to know, a man I would not like. He’s a convict, a loner, transported from his home at sixteen years of age. Who knows what demons he has in his head?” Who indeed? With so many characters in the town, it is rather difficult to follow the plot before Maggie Stuart is murdered, but it is worth the effort. There is a startling conclusion to the narrative, one I have not encountered before, but one, which in the days of capital punishment, must have happened on many occasions.
As Otto Berliner decides to go into private investigations, Greg Myers will undoubtedly use him again on other, just as interesting, cases.
THE UNFORTUNATE VICTIM by GREG PYERS PUBLISHED by SCRIBE for a recommended $32.99