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    One Boy Missing (Paperback) By (author) Stephen Orr

    05

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    excellent literary crime5

    Marianne Vincent One Boy Missing is the fifth novel by Australian author, Stephen Orr. Unable to put behind him the accidental death of his son, Charlie, and his subsequent divorce, Detective Sergeant Bart Moy returns to his rather dreary home town of Guilderton in outback New South Wales. His father, George is ageing and being there to help out is as good an excuse as any to escape the city. When the local butcher sees a young boy being roughly shoved into a car boot, the police are puzzled as no-one in town claims to be missing a child. While apparently only going through the motions with his duties much of the time, this case strikes a chord with Moy and he is determined to get to the bottom of the abduction. Interspersed into Moy's narration of present-day occurrences are the flash-backs to the events surrounding Charlie’s death that constantly haunt him. The characters with whom Orr populates his novel will be familiar to many readers: the cranky old bloke (who is especially well-drawn); the nosy neighbour with the casserole offering; the laconic desk sergeant; the belligerent old hermit; the contemptuous young shop assistant; the apathetic cop. The dialogue is completely natural and the interactions between Bart, George and the boy are often funny and sometimes quite poignant. The feel of the country town and its inhabitants is expertly rendered. As well as exploring the father/son relationship, Orr touches on the destruction of reputation, the loss of a loved one, the sense of community and what it takes to become a "local", and loss of independence in ageing. This literary crime novel tootles along at country town pace then rushes headlong into a gripping climax. Fans of Orr's novels will not be disappointed with this one; newcomers to his work will no doubt seek out more of it. by Marianne Vincent

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