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October 18 , 2009

The Condamine Bell


Cattle and horses are Adam’s life; have been since he was eleven. Life is severe for a lonely part aboriginal lad left with his aged grandmother in a small far western Queensland town with no prospects and no money. After a brutal bashing from a drunken relative, Adam saddled up an old partly lame horse his dad left behind and rode 30 miles in the arid heat to join his father’s droving plant. The tough, single minded resolution he displayed became his hallmark. Since that day he has spent seventeen years in a saddle, pushing cattle. He is only twenty-eight and has spent his entire working life in the channel country of western Queensland. Often alone for a week at a time with his horse and guitar his only companions, he yearns for a change of direction. He wants more out of life than working for someone else; he wants to become his own man. Adam turns east looking for more fertile pastures and stops in Miles on the Western Downs at the cattle sale yards. An experienced stockman is always in demand in cattle country; he is confident he can find a job, but he most wants to secure a place to agist his own stock he plans on buying. A quick nod of the head, a furtive glance in the bustle of the cattle sale is all that is required for two people to suspects he has a past. Two others know who he really is. A new job and agistment agreement come too quickly. Is something very wrong, or very right? The recent horse riding death of an aged stockman soon becomes a murder. All seems fine til shots are fired. Adam unwittingly makes enemies of a rich and powerful cattle baron with questionable intentions and known ambitions. Adam is forced to quickly pick sides to defend his patch. The pace lifts another notch or two as three attempts are made on Adam’s life. Again he is called to defend the lives of a family he never knew existed and earn the love of a feisty young woman who saw more in him than he knew. Deceit, jealousy and greed are poor bed fellows; another murder too close to home, heralds a climactic close. Everyone fails to identify the real threat 'til the final few pages. Sprinkled throughout the story appear real life characters that do inhabit all country towns. They add a laconic Australian bush humour and realism to the plot. We all see someone we know. Typically Australian in style and substance, this is an easy and enjoyable read.

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