Author Adrian Hyland makes his debut with Moonlight Downs, a novel about a young
Australian woman trying to find her place in the world and the murder of a well-respected leader and friend. Emily Tempest has always felt like an outsider. With the death of her mother when
Emily was still a young girl, she and her father settled in Moonlight Downs, which would become her home for the next ten years. Taken under the wing of the Moonlight Downs community and spiritual leader, Lincoln Flinders, and befriended by his daughter,
Hazel, Emily knows no other home until everyone in the community is forced to
leave. The people of Moonlight Downs went one way, and Emily heading south to school.
Now an adult having traveled the world, she is ready to come home, not sure of the welcome she will receive
- or if in fact Moonlight Downs will be the home she hopes it will be. Emily has always been a bit of a free spirit, wild and untamed. Most of the community has resettled the area, and life has returned to normal. Soon after her return, her old friend and mentor, Lincoln, is murdered, and the people of Moonlight Downs scatter, mourning in their own way, unsure of what the future will hold.
The murder is believed to be the work of a sorcerer, a man Lincoln was seen arguing with not long before his demise. The police set out on a manhunt in hopes of finding their number-one suspect. As time passes and she settles into her new life, Emily begins to question the course of the investigation and is determined to seek out the truth on her own. Her inquiries and snooping soon find her knee-deep in more than she anticipated, and her own life may now be at stake.
Emily Tempest is not the kind of woman you want to mess with. She may be small in stature, but she is smart and tough. Half white, half aboriginal, Emily has always straddled the two worlds, never knowing quite where she belongs. It is something she has struggled with
for most of her life; however, you would not necessarily know it, because she has a confidence and strength that suggest otherwise. With her wit and candid observations, she proves to be the perfect narrator for this tale.
Hylandís novel takes the reader deep into the Australian desert where life is difficult. The land is harsh and beautiful, much like the people who eke out their survival in the rural land, making the best of what they have.
Hyland captures both the desperation and the love of a people and land rich in culture and history. He weaves in the spirituality of the indigenous people and does not shy away from exposing racial tensions and political corruption.
Moonlight Downs is a captivating crime novel that brings to life its characters and the land it is set in. Adrian Hyland has proven that he is a great storyteller much in the tradition of those he writes about.