Bony and the Black Virgin, also published under the title, The Torn Branch, is the 24th novel in the Bony series by Arthur Upfield. In this instalment, Bony travels to drought-stricken outback NSW to investigate the murder of two men. By the time he arrives, some six months have passed since the discovery of the bodies, so it takes the talents of a detective like Bony to uncover clues in this sun-baked, sand-blown country. There are plenty of puzzling clues for the reader, with a surprising ending: in this case, even Bony got the killer and the motive wrong. Upfield also shares his extensive knowledge of the country and the effects of a long-lasting drought, and the eventual breaking of it, on the landscape, the fauna and the people. Bony makes plenty of "alleged cigarettes", educates the reader on the properties of gibber deserts, and goes duck shooting. Using Bony as a mouthpiece, Upfield offers opinions on the way the intelligence and sophistication of the blacks is underestimated and how they are educated but offered no employment to make use of that intelligence and education. Classic Upfield.