Book Review – Winds Of Evil – Arthur W Upfield

Posted on Fri 10/08/2010 by



First published    (Australia) Angus and Robertson – 1937
Second Publisher    (UK) John Hamilton – 1937
Third Publisher    (U.S.) Doubleday – 1944
This edition        Arkon 1980 (Arkon is a subsidiary of Angus and Robertson)
Copyright        Arthur W Upfield        1937

Again, this murder investigation is set in outback New South Wales.

Bony works incognito, as Joe Fisher, a fence rider. Only the station owner, and the local policeman, Mounted Constable Lee, know of his real name and occupation, as also does the local doctor, whose name is Mulray.

Bony specifically mentions Barrakee, using it as a reference when applying for the job as a fence rider. The station owner’s sister knows the Trenches from Windee, (Dash and Marion now married) and she learns of Bony’s real occupation from them.

There is mention of Detective Sergeant Simone from Broken Hill,  a bully of a man, a man whom Bony dislikes, both as a police officer and also as a man, mainly because of his attitude, and the methods he uses as a policeman from a big city, in this case Broken Hill.

One thing that was mentioned was that while Simone was being driven out from Broken Hill, the young driver of this car was wearing a peaked cap, similar to a baseball cap, only reversed on his head. It is not a solitary mention, but is mentioned quite a few times, none of these in passing, but treated as if it was the general fashion at the time. This leads me to believe that this fashion was not invented by the Americans in the nineties, but is a fashion that has indeed been around for some time.

Again there is mention of the ‘sting ray’ analogy, and there is a love interest for the owners sister, from one of the lowly station hands, who also has a history dating back to World War One, a history that is happily solved with the ending of the story. This person then rises to the occasion at the end of the story, and wins the heart of the girl. Again, this is woven into the novel as part of the story, and Bony is the one who acts as a sort of facilitator, who, in solving the mystery, also makes it now acceptable for the two persons to marry and be together to start anew, as it is. The aboriginals in the area seem not to have a major role in this novel as they had in earlier novels. However, as is the case, there always seems to be a black tracker.

There is a descriptive passage of how the murders are committed, and how the weather has a startling effect, eventually being deduced as being one of the main contributing factors in the commission of the murders. The passage where Bony captures the murderer in the act of trying to commit a further murder is covered in depth with an ingenious description, one that again keeps you holding your breath. Bony is held at gunpoint by the murderer, who finally becomes aware that he is the one who has been committing the murders, and the case is solved in this final passage.

The salt of the earth character in this novel is a local matriarch, and Bony clashes wits with her on a couple of occasions, eventually discovering that she and the original doctor in the town have a secret that is closely related to the murders.

Again, a wonderful novel that weaves crime fiction closely with social commentary.