writer | author

When a teenage girl and boy go missing from the small town of Mitchell most put it down to them running away. But when their bodies are found brutally murdered a fortnight later the town’s attention quickly turns to its itinerant, summertime population, and to the dead girl’s boyfriend, Lee Furnell.

It’s 1966 and times are changing, even in country Victoria. Bob Dylan is on the radio, Elvis Presley on the television. But change doesn’t sit comfortably with everyone in Mitchell and the arrival and brash methods of the American-born Detective Gene Fielder from the Melbourne Homicide Squad raises temperatures inside and outside the local police station.

Mitchell’s Senior Sergeant Lloyd Cole sees no obvious suspect at first. Not so Fielder and his two offsiders whose attention quickly fastens on Furnell. Their suspect is threatened and beaten up in trying to force a confession out of him as tensions escalate between Cole and Fielder.

But when Cole has precious few leads to go on, how will he stop Fielder when the detective is determined to let nothing stand in the way of his arrest of Furnell? And when tragedy strikes the town again Cole is even more determined to find the killer and prove Fielder wrong. But how does the spate of home burglaries and thefts in town and the earlier disappearance of another girl fit in with Cole’s investigations? And what dark secrets is Fielder hiding from everyone?

As he negotiates the delicate ground among the town’s hurt and aggrieved, Cole knows only he can untangle Mitchell’s murky secrets and run Furnell’s killer to ground. And that the threats to him lurk near and far from home.

On a wet winter’s night in 1967, Harry and Diane Colston are killed when their car collides with a freight train near the small town of Mitchell. But from the outset Senior Sergeant Lloyd Cole thinks it might be more than a tragic accident.

Enlisting the help of his new constable, Christine Sheridan, Cole investigates the dead couple’s past and discovers that more than a few people had an axe to grind with the Colstons.

Untangling the Colstons’ messy dealings leads Cole to neighbouring farmers and their grievances, horse and cattle traders, the town’s illegal bookmaker and his sidekicks, the wealthy Kinross family, Harry Colston’s hairdresser sister and his wife’s down at heel family. And the waters are further muddied when he realises Sheridan is getting too close to one of the main suspects in his investigation.

As he finds family pitted against family, and sees that money drives everyone’s ambitions, an attack aimed at him makes him realise that someone doesn’t appreciate him trying to find out what really happened to the Colstons.

And when the past reaches out to strangle the present, and Cole finally understands the truth about how and why the Colstons died, he uncovers the most shocking revelation of all.


It’s 1968 and times are changing, not always for the better. And especially not for the charred body found buried in the smoking ruins of the Sandpiper reception centre where the local football club has just held its end of year celebrations.

As police officers Lloyd Cole and Christine Sheridan probe the suspicious death they uncover disturbing evidence about the dead man’s dark practices. And soon the number of suspects rises.

There’s the Sandpiper’s owners, Mark and Gary Weaver, Mark Weaver’s jealous girlfriend, corrupt shire councillors, Henderson the fruit shop owner, the backers of the Early Settlers housing estate, local farmer Tito Cavallo and marijuana-growing orchardists.

Then there’s the dead man’s own murky past in wartime Yugoslavia.

The investigation comes to a head on Guy Fawkes Night as more fires erupt, including one that engulfs a suspect linked to the Sandpiper fire.

But as Cole and Sheridan untangle the mystery even they aren’t prepared for the shocks that are finally revealed.


© 2020 Robert Engwerda | Site by Pier Vido Design | Updated 15 June 2020