Shadow of the Osprey

Written by Peter Watt
Review by Ellen Keith

This is the second in a trilogy that began with Cry of the Curlew. This series wants to be a juicy family saga about the Duffys and the Macintoshes in nineteenth-century Australia but falls short of the mark (plenty of saga, but not enough juice).

Crammed with characters, it moves along quickly for its length. One storyline follows Fiona White, nee Macintosh, who had Michael Duffy’s baby in the first installment. By this volume, Duffy is presumed dead and Fiona, having married the evil Granville White, is in a torrid lesbian affair with her cousin Penelope, wife of a German baron, and also Granville’s sister. Twice in one page does Fiona wonder if her baby was taken to an “infamous baby farm.” Twice I wondered, “What is an infamous baby farm?” Need I add that of course this child lived and of course Michael Duffy is still alive. Aborigines, gold prospectors, gunrunners, a Chinese princess, and the Irish all figure into this tale as well.

Throw in Crocodile Dundee, and Watt will be ready to take these families into the twentieth century. Unfortunately, I’m not interested in going there with them.