In Murder in Murloo, Dusty Kent investigates her first cold case in the small town of Murloo. When Sean O’Kelly, her research assistant, meets Dusty for the first time she overpowers a drunken youth who is tormenting a gentle old sheep and threatening her with a length of timber. He looks on as Dusty uses her karate skills to tackle the youth. '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.
Later when Dusty learns Sean is one of those 'unbelievably clever people who know the inside, backside and all sides of a computer', she invites him to assist her with her investigation into the murder of the young local woman, Gabby Peters.
Murloo is an Aboriginal (Kurnai) word meaning ‘clay or muddy banks’. The Murloo in the book is based on Marlo, except that I have taken poetic licence with some of the geography. The route to Giuseppe’s house mentioned in Chapter 10 which ‘offered spectacular views of the sand and ocean below’ is actually the Marlo-Conran Road which ends at Cape Conran; a surfing haven with outstanding surfing beaches attracting serious surfers from around the country.
Murloo Mansion is fictional. It’s actually Marlo pub that 'is situated on a bluff overlooking the Southern Ocean'. (Chapter 1). Marlo is a quiet seaside village at the mouth of the Snowy River in a region of Victoria called East Gippsland with a population of less than 500. It is largely unspoilt with excellent walking trails, and abundant wildlife such as kookaburras and lyrebirds. Anglers know they can catch the best perch and bream in Australia at Marlo – and so do the pelicans that frequent the area. The creation myth of the local Aboriginal people (Kurnai), who have occupied the area for at least 20,000 years, tells us the first man was Borun, the pelican. Even older than Aboriginal settlement are the magnificent old-growth forests forty kilometres north-east of Orbost.
The township of Claigan is based on Orbost a small town fifteen minutes drive from Marlo. Most of the road runs parallel with The Snowy River. The legendary river starts on the slopes of Mount Kosciuszko in New South Wales. It crosses the border into Victoria, flows through mountains and all the way down to Orbost where it runs adjacent to the town and concludes its almost 400 km journey at Marlo where it flows into the ocean.
I have taken the name Claigan from the Isle of Skye in Scotland in the same way that Orbost is named after a farm on the Isle of Skye. In the 1800s, many Scottish migrants settled in the East Gippsland area and established sheep runs.
Once a year at Christmas I return to my hometown where my sister Irene still lives. Here’s a photo she took of me at the town sign last year.
I hope to have Dusty Kent Mystery #6 on the shelves before I next visit Orbost. Murder on a Melbourne Tram is set in my current hometown of Melbourne.
Until next time... JB & BG :)
Dusty Kent Murder Mystery #6 is in progress. The plan is for it to be finished and ready for publication by the end of 2021.
Murder on a Melbourne Tram: Twenty-nine-year-old Gracie Chamberlain claimed she didn’t know her boss’s dead body was decomposing in the upstairs bedroom while she went to work every day in the downstairs office. That is one reason the police arrested her.
It is the hot autumn of 2019 in Melbourne when Dusty Kent starts to investigate the strangulation of celebrity chef Rafe Mason. Four suspects have been identified by Gracie’s wealthy father who believes his daughter is innocent of the murder.
Dusty must decide if one of them is the killer. Her task is made difficult when it is established that each of the suspects has an alibi for the night of the murder. Dusty’s assistant suggests the police got it right in arresting Gracie Chamberlain. However, Dusty is not so sure.
Secrets unravel, tempers flare and fear causes suspects to attempt to flee.
The last time I predicted the publication of one of my books I was ambushed by a pandemic! In the end Tooting Moon was not published until November 2020.
The Covid 19 pandemic also impacted on Murder on a Melbourne Tram in that it more or less dictated the setting. Due to travel restrictions, lockdowns and uncertainty, Team Dusty was unable to travel to research a setting outside of Melbourne. Therefore, I decided to set the book in Albert Park where I live. I'm glad I did; I've thoroughly enjoyed rediscovering my own village.
For those of you who watch the Formula 1, this is where the F1 Australia Grand Prix is held - the circuit goes around the beautiful Albert Park Lake. In March 2020 the F1 was dramatically cancelled at the last moment. This year it was optimistically rescheduled for November, but a few days ago the Australian Grand Prix Corporation in conjunction with the Victorian Government announced the Grand Prix has been cancelled ‘due to restrictions and logistical challenges relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic’. The silver lining for me is that I don't have to endure the scaffolding and other constructions that mar the beauty of the area and diminish the enjoyment of my weekly early morning walk around the lake.
The picture on the right gives you some idea of the sort of thing I see on my walk around Albert Park Lake. The lake, which is named after Queen Victoria's consort Prince Albert, was once swamp land and was a meeting place for the local Wurrundjeri tribe. Today the lake and surrounding area is a public parkland home to yacht clubs, rowing clubs, cafes, a sporting stadium and more. The walking track goes all around the lake and covers a distance of 4.8 kilometres.
Albert Park Lake is prolific with bird life, especially the beautiful black swans that sometimes like to join picnickers on the lawns.
Not only do I have the lake on my doorstep but the beach is also a short distance away. I can walk along the beach down to St Kilda, another popular Melbourne suburb where visitors flock to Luna Park. I can also walk (or take a tram) to the extraordinary Melbourne Botanic Gardens.
After all that walking I can sit down at one of the many cafes in Albert Park, most of which offer outdoor dining, and enjoy a good cappuccino.
Until next time...
JB & BG
Anyone expecting a thriller or a suspense novel when they read a Dusty Kent Murder Mystery will be disappointed. It’s a shame that mystery, thriller and suspense are grouped together by Amazon and other online booksellers. Furthermore, there’s no whodunit sub category! All of that can lead to confusion for readers who don’t understand a mystery novel has many variations.
The majority of the readers of the Dusty Kent Murder Mystery series enjoy the books and leave positive reviews. That tells me most readers ‘get’ the books. They understand the whodunit genre.
Today I’d like to highlight three Amazon reviews of Murder in Murloo.
Thank you to BrainybirdAA from the United Kingdom, Bev from Canada,
and KylieD: Top 100 Reviewer from Australia.
Some readers rate the books with their preferred number of stars without leaving comments. That is also much appreciated. Readers don’t always have time to compose reviews.
Some readers read the books without offering public feedback. I appreciate them very much, too.
To all my readers and supporters: Thank you. xxx
JB aka Brigid George
For your free gift from Brigid George CLICK HERE!
Within two weeks of its release in November 2020, Tooting Moon achieved #1 New Release!
I was on Sindbad’s back ready for my ride. Instead of getting up from his sitting position as he was supposed to, the camel turned his head in my direction and bellowed a snort of protest. Lugubrious brown eyes stared at me from behind great wide nostrils that resembled portals to secret caves. This dromedary didn’t like me. What was his problem? A prejudice against Irishmen?
Relaxing my grip on the saddle handles, I turned to tell the tour guide I was getting off. That’s when Sindbad rose with sudden and unexpected speed. One minute the camel was on the sand, legs curled under his body. The next minute he’d sprung to full height.
“He’s the tallest camel on Cable Beach.” This had been the proud declaration of Hugh, a tanned and muscular Australian tour guide in his early thirties, when he introduced me to Sindbad. At the time, having only seen the camel seated, I thought Hugh was exaggerating. He wasn’t.
My stomach lurched. I toppled to one side. I think I yelled. Or screamed. Or swore. Probably all three. The next minute I was flat on my back on the sand. All six feet of me spread lengthwise like a misplaced cadaver.
One of the cameleers, a cheerful blue-eyed blonde in her twenties who had earlier introduced herself as Iris, ran over to me. I managed to scramble to my feet before she had a chance to check my pulse.
“Are you all right?” Her tone was serious, her expression concerned, but she couldn’t hide the hint of amusement in her eyes.
“Nothing broken.” I reassured her as I retrieved my brand new Akubra hat which had become separated from my head during my descent. I brushed the sand from the back of my shorts. Luckily the beach had provided a soft landing.
With the delicacy of a trained handler, Iris coaxed Sindbad into a sitting position again. I ignored the waiting back of the camel and looked up at Dusty, astride a dromedary called Aladdin and looking cool and relaxed in a pair of turquoise cotton shorts and white strappy top. She made no effort to hide her amusement. Even Aladdin appeared to have merriment in his sultry brown eyes.
“I think I’ll pass on the camel ride.” I tried to sound nonchalant.
Sindbad turned his head in my direction, his mouth wide open. His fat lower lip flopped down to expose square yellow teeth that looked like three inch high tombstones. I recoiled.
“Don’t worry,” said Dusty. “Camels are herbivores.”
I gave her a look which I hoped expressed my scorn for her flippancy. Dusty tossed her head back and laughed.
“Come on, Sean. A sunset camel ride in Broome is an iconic tourist attraction. You don’t want to miss out.”
It had been almost a year since Dusty Kent and I worked our last case together in Port Douglas. Four years ago, just after I arrived in Australia from Ireland, Dusty took me on as her assistant after learning about my IT qualifications. An investigative journalist, she had already established a reputation for solving the cold case murders she wrote about. In fact, she had solved every case she’d accepted. My role as research assistant had broadened into adviser, listener and friend during our travels to various Australian cities to solve murders. Now we were over two thousand kilometres north of the Western Australian capital of Perth.
I was about to reply that any interest I might have had in this iconic experience had vanished when Sindbad, sounding like a baritone bull with a sore throat, bellowed with the triumph of a conqueror.
That did it! I wasn’t going to let a dromedarian Shrek get the better of me. I put my foot in the stirrup and took a firm hold of the saddle handles. Iris was quickly at my side supporting my back with her hand.
“You need to sit down very gently,” she urged in a soft voice. “Then you won’t spook the camel.”
So it was my fault Sindbad got spiteful? My fault he didn’t like the way I sat in the saddle chair? I held on tight to the handles, swung my leg over the camel’s back and lowered myself into the saddle.
“Perfect.” Iris gave me the thumbs-up.
No reaction from Sindbad. But I didn’t trust him. I sensed he would take the first opportunity to assert his dominance.
Hugh appeared on the other side of Sindbad with some last minute instructions for me on how to stay safe during the camel’s ascent to full height.
After a glance in my direction to check if I was ready, Iris gave Sindbad the command to rise. I held my breath, leaned back as instructed and gripped the handles. The camel half rose on his front knees, at the same time extending his back legs to full length for support then straightening his front legs to stand on all fours. Smooth. Graceful. Trouble free. I relaxed a little but remained on guard against further tomfoolery from the contemptuous camel.
“Bravo,” said Dusty.
We were soon on our way. Cable Beach is a twenty-two kilometre stretch of white sand bounded by sand dunes and ochre red cliffs that runs along the edge of the Indian Ocean. Already on the beach were long caravans of camels with eager riders on their backs. Dusty had booked a private tour so it was just the two of us riding side by side with the handlers leading Aladdin and Sindbad.
“Are you sure camels are herbivores?”
“Yep. It’s true.” Dusty’s response had the earnest ring of sincerity. “On the other hand…” Now she looked at me with an all too familiar mischievous sparkle in her eye. “I read an article the other day about a man in India having his head bitten off by his camel.”
“The poor camel had good reason for its behaviour. The owner had left him tied up in the searing heat for hours.”
“Right. Sounds like he deserved to lose his head.” But who could predict what a camel might deem as ‘good reason’ to chomp a person’s head off? Sindbad managed to take offence simply because I didn’t sit on him with the required amount of gentleness. I maintained a watchful eye on the back of Sindbad’s head as our camels galumphed along the white sand accompanied by the sound of waves crashing into shore. The camel caravans ahead of us created long shadows on the sand as the sun began to set across the water.
To my amazement, I saw several people strolling along the beach without a stitch of clothing on.
Noticing my reaction, Dusty smiled. “This is the nudist end of Cable Beach.”
That some of the naked bodies were not unpleasant to my eye was an agreeable surprise. I apparently slipped into a deep state of concentration. We’d travelled some distance before I heard Dusty cough. She grinned when I turned toward her.
“Do you know how long I’ve been trying to get your attention?”
“What do you mean?”
My innocent tone caused her to raise her eyebrows.
I attempted to justify my distracted state. “Right. Well, the view…I mean, you’re correct. It would have been a shame to miss this iconic experience.”
Dusty chuckled. “It’s not the only reason I summoned you to Broome.”
I didn’t know anything about the murder we were to be working on. In her email, Dusty had simply described it as ‘an extraordinary case’ promising to ‘reveal all’ when I arrived.
Without waiting for an answer, Dusty continued. “We’re here to nail a mongrel who murdered his wife.”
Her sharp tone surprised me. Was there something personal about this case? Her profile gave nothing away. The setting sun added a warm glow to her features and deepened the auburn of her frizzy hair which today she wore loose.
“Right. So we know who the murderer is already?”
“Yes, we do.” Dusty’s lips set in a firm line. “None other than Blake Montgomery.”
“Blake Montgomery? The Hollywood actor?”
Sindbad discharged a loud warning snort. My surprise must have caused me to move inappropriately in the saddle. Iris soothed the camel with soft words of reassurance.
“The very one,” said Dusty. “The famous Hollywood actor.”
The death of Blake Montgomery’s wife Tirion Welsh, affectionately known as Tiri, had been big news when it happened. She was the toast of Hollywood and considered one of the most beautiful women in the world. In fact, Blake and Tiri were Hollywood’s golden couple, both of them big stars in their own right. Whenever possible, they escaped from the media and the fans on their private yacht. Once a year they sailed to the west coast of Australia to visit Tiri’s sister in Broome. On one such visit seventeen years ago Tiri Welsh drowned at sea when she fell overboard. Her death was ruled an accident but Tiri’s adoring fans hadn’t accepted Montgomery’s story that his wife had fallen overboard.
As the camels continued their slow meander along the beach, we admired the spectacular colours created by the warm orange sun lowering itself toward the horizon. Silhouettes of several people standing at the water’s edge, fishing rods extended over the water, foreshadowed the advent of nightfall. They all appeared to be wearing at least one piece of clothing. However, the occasional naked body could still be spied on the beach.
We arrived at the finish of the sunset tour without any further shenanigans from Sindbad. He appeared to have accepted me now I had learned how to behave in the saddle.
When the camels came to a halt, Dusty was the first to dismount. Aladdin lowered himself to his front knees, folded his back legs under his body and settled onto his stomach on the sand in what seemed like one smooth movement. Dusty got off his back just as effortlessly, giving the camel a caress before stepping away and looking up at me.
“Finding out what really happened the night Tiri Welsh died could turn out to be a tough case to crack,” I said, looking down at her from Sindbad’s back.
I knew Dusty’s absolute confidence in her ability to solve the cold cases she accepted was legitimised by her one hundred percent success rate. However, the death of Tiri Welsh was pretty much an open and shut case of accidental drowning with no way of proving otherwise.
Instead of replying, Dusty took out her phone and held it up ready to take a photo of me as I alighted from Sindbad. This might not be a picture I would be proud of. When the camel lowered himself to the ground without mishap, I breathed a sigh of relief and dismounted.
Sindbad got up almost immediately, perhaps keen to go home. Grateful to the animal for carrying me safely, I reached out to stroke his neck. Sindbad turned his head toward me and brought his face close to mine. I jumped back. This beast and I might have established friendly relations but I drew the line at kissing! To my surprise, those flappy camel lips bypassed my mouth and went straight to my hat. Before I knew what was happening, Sindbad had gripped the brim of my Akubra in his cenotaphic teeth, whipped it off my head and galloped away.
Iris yelled after him. “Sindbad! Come back!”
The camel paid no heed. Iris gave chase.
“Don’t worry. We’ll get your hat back.” Hugh’s apologetic expression was not as solemn as it could have been.
Dusty held her phone up. “I’ve got it all on film.”
“Right. Useful evidence for when I take the camel to court.”
As we watched Iris pursuing Sindbad along the beach, Dusty responded to my earlier remark about the cold case.
“It’s not Tiri Welsh’s death we’re here to investigate. Blake Montgomery’s second wife was murdered six months ago.”
Thank you to everyone who downloaded Tooting Moon during the launch. You took the book to #1 New Release on Amazon in the 'Australian and Oceanian Literature' category in under two weeks. That is so cool! Although Whisper My Secret and Mother of Ten (written under my own name) have been Amazon bestsellers many times over in several different categories, this is the first time a Dusty Kent Mystery has earned that beautiful #1 orange ribbon from Amazon.
I'm over the moon about this! :) Tooting Moon
Woohoo! Tooting Moon is back on the production line.
The manuscript has been sitting on the virtual shelf for the past six months. I finally gave up waiting for the pandemic to be over. Two days ago I posted the MS to my assessment editor ‘publishing legend’ Lisanne Radice in the UK. Lisanne has nurtured each of the Dusty Kent Murder Mysteries to the final stage. I’m not sure how long it will take to travel from Australia to England as there are delays ‘due to limited flights and increased parcel volume’. Keeping my fingers crossed for a speedy trip across the oceans.
Tooting Moon is set in Broome, Western Australia. Team Dusty had a wonderful time there last year researching the area. We always choose to take our away missions to the warm north during Melbourne’s cold July weather. Alas, no away trip this year; we were locked into Victoria with state borders closed. Currently we are pretty much locked into our homes for a strict Stage 4 lockdown. We can only dream of one day once again travelling away together to a warm destination.
As mentioned in my previous blog, I also went to Tooting in London last year to check out the place that lends its name to the title of the book.
As soon as I receive Lisanne’s report and go through the manuscript again with her suggestions in mind, the next step will be to send the MS on another trip; this time to my wonderful, wonderful beta readers.
UPDATE 22 August 2020: The MS has just arrived in the UK. :)
UPDATE 14 November 2020: Tooting Moon has been released! Grab a copy here!
Until next time.
JB (aka Brigid George)
For your free gift from Brigid George CLICK HERE!
The next Dusty Kent book is not yet ready. Unfortunately, juggling teaching and writing and other commitments leaves me with too little time. I'm excited about Book #5, Tooting Moon, which will now be published in 2020 not the end of 2019 as planned. BUT the cover is ready! Let me know what you think.
In Tooting Moon, one of Brigid George’s most ingenious mysteries, Dusty Kent must expose a killer of women. Beautiful Tiri Welsh and her husband Blake Montgomery were iconic Hollywood stars adored by millions around the world. All that changed one dark night in the Indian Ocean, when Tiri drowned under mysterious circumstances. The truth behind her death was never uncovered.
For fifteen years,Tiri’s sister fought tirelessly to expose Montgomery as his wife’s murderer. Finally, she turns to Dusty Kent.
(My thanks to Clarissa of Yocla Book Design for the awesome cover.)
For your free gift from Brigid George CLICK HERE!
My travelling is one of several reasons why I am way behind schedule with the writing of Tooting Moon.
In September I took time out to go to London for my niece’s wedding. Apart from having a wonderful time at the wedding I also saw a few sights. Here I am at Scotland Yard - released after hours of interrogation. Just kidding! My niece's father-in-law asked a couple of London bobbies to get in the picture with me but as they were armed to the teeth, they explained they were not permitted to get up close and personal with members of the public. Fair enough!
I also visited the suburb of Tooting (which features in the title of Dusty Kent Mystery #5) as well as a house in Norwood that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle lived in between 1891 and 1894.
From London I went to Sicily for ten days. It was a much needed break in a warm climate and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is a picture of Mount Etna taken from the balcony of Il Sole Castello in Taormina on the east coast of Sicily.
Taormina has been a place of inspiration and refuge for many creative people over the years, including Oscar Wilde, Coco Chanel, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote.
In July 2019 Team Dusty travelled to Broome, Western Australia to research the setting for Tooting Moon. Here is the link to our adventures and pictures. Dusty Kent in Broome.
Until next time... JB (aka Brigid George)
UPDATE February 11, 2020: I managed to spend a lot of time on Tooting Moon during my break from teaching in January. I'm excited that it is now in the final stages of production and on track for publication in the first half of this year. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
UPDATE May 10, 2020. The publication of Tooting Moon has been delayed due to Covid 19 pandemic. I still hope to release the book in 2020 but nothing is certain at this stage.
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Team Dusty has just returned from Broome, Western Australia, the setting for Dusty Kent Mystery #5 – Tooting Moon. Pindan red cliffs, dramatic sandstone rocks, red earth, bright blue skies, shimmering turquoise oceans, a 22 kilometre long beach of white sand, pearls and pearl diving, traditional land of the Yawuru people and home to many other nationalities - Broome is all of these things and more.
Popular Australian actor and comedian Shane Jacobson was persuaded to (eventually) give up his phone and relax into ‘Broome time’ on his promotional visit to Broome. On our second day there, Team Dusty member Claudette also found herself without her phone. We searched high and low all day and racked our brains about where she might have left it, but to no avail.
It wasn’t until that evening just after we sat down for a meal at Matso’s Brewery that Claudette’s husband, five thousand kilometres away in Melbourne, rang to tell her he’d located her phone. What? How did he do that? Well, he called Claudette’s phone on the off chance that someone had found it and would answer. And that’s exactly what happened. The lovely man who found her phone, and took good care of it hoping he could somehow return it to its owner was none other than Ahmat Bin Fadal, a local identity and retired pearl diver. As a young diver, Ahmat lived to tell the tale when his oxygen supply was accidentally cut off while he was underwater.
When we met up with Ahmat the next day, he told us Broome was like a magnet. Once you have visited, it pulls you back. Certainly, its rich colours, warm climate and friendly, small-town atmosphere make it a difficult place to leave. We knew we had only a few days to experience the uniqueness of this remote Kimberley town where the red desert meets the sea so we packed in as much as we could.
We visited Gantheaume Point where, in the early 1900s, a lighthouse keeper called Patrick Percy modified a natural rock pool to provide a soothing bath for his much-loved wife Anastasia who suffered with arthritis.
We were moved by a memorial erected to honour the women who were forced to work for the pearling masters in the late 19th century. The sculpture depicts a young, pregnant Aboriginal girl emerging from the water with a pearl shell in her hands.
And we did much more; wandered around the markets, dined at the cafes, shopped in the town, strolled along Cable Beach, supped cappuccinos and sipped Parisian Margaritas. One evening we had reason to celebrate because I received an email notification that Disguising Demons (Dusty Kent Mystery #4) had made the long list in the Davitt Awards for excellence in crime fiction. How good is that!!
Update 9 November, 2019: I am behind schedule with the production of Tooting Moon. I now aim to have it ready around May 2020.
Update Novemnber 2020: Tooting Moon is now available on Amazon.
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Dusty Kent Mystery #5 is in production. Brigid George has written thousands of words. Team Dusty is gearing up for our trip to Broome in Western Australia in July. It’s full steam ahead!
Here in Melbourne we have just come out of a weird summer season where daytime temperatures ranged from 19.1 ºC to 42.8 ºC! The Bureau of Meteorology reported that it was a warmer than average summer but I seem to remember as many cold days as there were sweltering days. By the time July comes around, who knows what the weather will be like! The only thing we know for sure is that we’ll be warm up in Broome. The weather there is even warmer than in the perfect climate of Port Douglas where we were last year, checking out the setting for Dusty Kent Mystery #4, Disguising Demons.
Tooting Moon is shaping up to be one of Brigid George’s most ingenious mysteries. Dusty and Sean start their visit to Broome with a sunset camel ride along Cable Beach before settling down to the serious business of catching a killer. Did iconic Hollywood movie star, Blake Montgomery, kill his first wife, Tiri Welsh? Dusty is immediately suspicious of Montgomery, suspecting his urbane charm hides a sinister side. However, to get to the truth, Tiri’s is not the only mysterious death Dusty and Sean will need to solve.
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