The Orchard Murders

Robert Gott

The Orchard Murders
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The Orchard Murders

Robert Gott

A novel about revenge, obsession, and the dangerous gullibility of religious fanatics.

In 1944, in the outer-Melbourne suburb of Nunawading, a brutal triple murder heralds the return of a long-forgotten cult. A man named Anthony Prescott has declared himself the Messiah and has promised his followers immortality. There are those who believe him and who are ready to kill in his name. Inspector Titus Lambert of the Melbourne Homicide unit, whose detectives are over-stretched, requests the discreet assistance of Helen Lord and Joe Sable, once members of his unit, now private inquiry agents. The investigation is more perilous than any of them realise, and will have tragic consequences.

The Orchard Murders is the fourth novel in Robert Gott’s acclaimed series, set in Melbourne during the dark days of the Second World War.


For our Crime Book of the Month we return to 1944 and gloomy, wartime Melbourne in Robert Gott’s The Orchard Murders, the fourth instalment in his Holiday Murders series. I’ve long been a fan of Gott’s books, and was simply itching to read this. If we chose the book of the month based on body count alone, this would win by a country mile. A mass homicide in Nunawading leads under-resourced and overstretched homicide detective Titus Lambert to enlist the help of Helen Lord and Joe Sable, former homicide detectives now established as private investigators. Shifty, shady idolater Anthony Prescott and his bizarre cult pose a clear and present danger to the team. Resolving such a heinous crime becomes an exercise fraught with peril.

Gott’s use of language in this finely written book is superb. He is an exceptional storyteller, and the plot unfolds effortlessly. It’s a joy to find writers who can command their craft in such a way so the action doesn’t feel forced or contrived. Lord and Lambert are as brilliantly unflappable as ever, and I can’t help but cheer for the ensemble’s newcomer, Dr Clara Dawson. Her determination, blunt manner and ribald vocabulary are great – she’s no shrinking violet! We can’t say its champagne crime fiction as it’s not from the Champagne region, but this sure as hell is sparkling crime fiction.

Julia Jackson is the assistant shop manager at Readings Carlton.

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