BAILY'S BONES by Victor Kelleher
Kirkus Star


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Vacationing with their mother and their man-sized retarded brother, Kenny, in a cottage at an old homestead in rural Australia, Dee and Alex unravel a long-ago tragedy that resurfaces after Kenny discovers human bones on the banks of a precipitous gorge. Kenny, who normally behaves like a sweet, 240-pound three-year-old, begins to have bizarre episodes that Dee and Alex eventually realize are possession by Baily--a frighteningly angry escaped convict whose written denouncement of a man named Arnold (like their landlord) they find hidden under the cottage floor. It develops that several other people are also inhabited by spirits from the past, seeking retribution from one another--especially from the present-day Arnold's ancestor, who was responsible for a brutal massacre of aboriginal people in the gorge. With pungent characterizations and deft ordering of clues and incidents, Kelleher builds suspense until the last danger to Kenny--which grows out of a misperception on the part of Dee and Alex that the alert reader may catch early on--is averted. Meanwhile, this is a satisfying ghost story combined with a memorable glimpse of a sad chapter of Australian history--paralleling our own efforts to exterminate Native Americans.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Dial