Back in 1970, when this tale first appeared, political demonstrations were common, and so were the problems that followed in their wake: strikes, fires, looting. But when the crowds receded, they rarely left murder victims behind. Certain that university student Robyn Calder was killed during a demonstration on behalf of jailed conscientious-objector Oliver Harrap, Robyn’s friends prevail on private eye Jefferson Shields to look into her death. The iron bar that killed her has disappeared, even though four separate witnesses said they saw Robyn with just such a bar. No way, swears Nigel Detrick, Harrap’s friend who organized the demonstration; not one demonstrator was carrying a weapon. In that case, though, why does a photograph of Robyn snapped only a few minutes before her death show her wielding the weapon—and why, come to think of it, did the photographer just happen to get a clear picture of the one demonstrator who was about to become a casualty? Pursuing the scant leads from the Thought Club, which lends its expertise to organizing political rallies, back to his own office, Shields comes up with as neat and disturbing an answer to these riddles as you could wish.
Her latest blast from the past to be published in the US shows Australian Carlon taking a holiday from her trademark tales of terror (Hush, It’s a Game, 2001, etc.) to produce a vintage whodunit, complete with red herrings, an impossible crime, and a neatly turned solution.