THE PRICE OF AN ORPHAN by Patricia Carlon


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Megan Gale is likely to babble when she’s in her cups, so the person she’s blackmailing beats her to death and drives her Mini, with her corpse bundled inside, into an off-limits cave outside the town of Quidong. There’s not a chance in a million her body will ever be found. But the murder itself has been witnessed by Johnnie Bradford, a nine-year-old orphan who’s been taken in by Stuart Heath, himself an awkwardly well-meaning former foster child, and his wife Kay. Luckily for the killer, Johnnie isn’t sure whose face was under the felt hat he saw; luckily again, Johnnie makes a uniquely unconvincing witness. He’s a lazy, uncooperative child who’s already told a string of whoppers and can’t resist gilding his current tale, when it’s challenged, with masked men and bloodcurdling screams that don’t exactly add to his authority. Unluckily, Johnnie, stung when nobody believes his wild story, digs up a piece of physical evidence as dangerous to himself as to the killer. Soon after, Johnnie and Kay leave on a camping trip that gets them out of threatening Quidong. But Carlon, though she doesn’t go in for the twists and turns of Crime of Silence (1998), makes the Australian bush, in all its vast emptiness, a bigger and even more suffocating trap for her surly innocent. First published in 1964, this exquisitely calibrated suspenser has been waiting for US publication ever since like a buried bomb.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-56947-173-8
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Soho
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1999


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