Dusty Kent is the fictional investigator in a classical whodunit murder mystery series. The series starts with Murder in Murloo. Other books in the series include A Devious Mind, Rippling Red, Disguising Demons, Tooting Moon and Murder on a Melbourne Tram and Death in The Dandenongs.
Dusty Kent was born in 1983 in the fictional town of Claigan in East Gippsland in Victoria, Australia, the area featured in Murder in Murloo.
She is an investigative journalist who specialises in solving cold case murders. Dusty is the best at what she does and has never yet failed to solve a case she has taken on for investigation. Her name means ‘warrior’ and that’s what Dusty is: a cold case warrior with a fierce determination to catch murderers.
She stands 5ft 2in (158 centimetres) tall, has wild, frizzy auburn hair and green eyes, and is a karate black belt. In Murder in Murloo she used her karate skills to rescue a frightened sheep from an inebriated youth who was tormenting the woolly jumbuck.
In an instant, she had grabbed his wrist with one hand and flicked his hand with the other, ejecting the piece of wood from his grasp and sending it plummeting to the ground. Before he had a chance to blink, she flipped the youth over and tossed him onto the grass, pinning him there with her knee.
Dusty flushes out killers by observing suspects closely during interviews and conversations. The things they try to hide and the lies they tell steer her towards a successful outcome.
In A Devious Mind the narrator tells the reader:
Dusty had what she claimed was an accurate method of gauging whether someone was lying. She listened for a particular change of tone in a person’s voice which she believed signalled that the person was lying.
Dusty’s assistant Sean O’Kelly called this skill the Dusty Kent Lie Detector. In Death in The Dandenongs she tells him there is no mystery about the way she detects when someone is lying.
"Experienced detectives acquire the same sort of sixth sense that allows them to know when someone is lying. They use the same cues–change in voice tone, mannerisms, eye movements and the rest of it."
Some say Dusty Kent is arrogant and conceited but those who understand her know she doesn't make idle boasts. She says she is the best because the evidence indicates it is true. She has a 100% success rate.
She excelled at solving cold cases and the books she wrote about them were all best sellers. Dusty didn’t see any need to be modest about that. However, she was diligent about giving credit where credit was due and acknowledged the dedication and commitment of detectives and other members of the police force. Rippling Red
At the same time, she is not afraid to admit to her mistakes and has been known to confess to her faults. For example, in A Devious Mind she tells her assistant Sean that she admires the 'unthinking kindness' some people are capable of and admits, "I’d be resentful if I had to give up everything to look after someone else."
Motivation to solve cold cases
Dusty Kent knows what it is like to live with the uncertainty of not knowing what has happened to a loved one. One morning, when Dusty was five years old, she smiled and waved goodbye to her mother as she ran through the school gates just as she always did. But Dusty’s mother did not return to pick her daughter up from school that afternoon. She simply vanished. Police believe she went missing during the short walk from the school to her home and they were unable to find any trace of this devoted mother and much-loved wife. Dusty's grandmother died without ever knowing what happened to her daughter. Dusty's father died without knowing what happened to his wife.
Dusty’s deep compassion for the families of murder victims drives her determination to prevent other families from having to 'endure years and years of not knowing'.
She only takes cases when invited to do so by someone close to the murder victim and does not charge a fee. All she asks is the right to publish a book about her investigation. In Death in The Dandenongs Dusty explains her fee system to a friend of the murder victim.
"My fee is the same for every case I accept. I don’t charge a monetary fee at all. All I ask is the right to publish a book about the case. That way everyone has the same access to my services. The income generated by my books more than covers my fees."
Dusty will stop at nothing to catch a killer and wastes no sympathy on murder suspects although she can be empathetic toward them such as in Disguising Demons when she understood the emotional turmoil of the murderer who took the life of an innocent monk.
The Dusty Kent Mysteries are written by Brigid George, the pen name of JB Rowley. JB chose the pen name to honour her father George Rowley, a devoted family man who died too young. As a child her father always called her Brigid.