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The Bone is Pointed [Paperback]

Arthur W. Upfield
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 14 1998 Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte Mysteries
Jack Anderson was a big man with a foul temper, a sadist and a drunk. Five months after his horse appeared riderless, no trace of the man has surfaced and no one seems to care. But Bony is determined to follow the cold trail and smoke out some answers.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Well-Intentioned Folly April 9 2002
Format:Paperback
Arthur Upfield clearly has a grasp of what is required to create a solid piece of detective fiction, and yet, though all the necessaries of the genre are represented (murder mystery, self-assured detective, etc.) it seems there is still something missing. Though this book failed to grab my attention as a modern detective novel, it did serve as a poignant introduction to the not-so-underlying politics of Australia. Upfield's well-intentioned detective, Napoleon Bonaparte, known to readers as Bony, is infinitely aware of his part aboriginal, part white background, and this awareness is fundamental to all other action. As Bony attempts to solve the disappearance of the drunken Jeffrey Anderson he embraces aspects from all areas of his background, employing his ancestral history to reach a conclusion about the disappearance and death of Anderson. Bony's lineage means more to this tale than its ability to help him solve the mystery of the moment however. It is a stunning commentary about the nature of race and cultural relations in Australia. Upfield has written a book that serves as an indictment of the cultural politics of Australia, painting a picture that is a means by which he may critique the behavior of the very people most likely to seek out his tales. As a result, he is able to deliver a message that would otherwise fall on deaf ears. His is a tale is a condemnation of the inequality that has embraced Australia for more than a century.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Awesome Book! April 9 2002
Format:Paperback
"The Bone is Pointed"introduces readers to one of the most fascinating detective characters in fiction today. Set in 1940's Australia, Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte presents an interesting and challenging character. The son of a white man and an aboriginal woman,"Bony"brings characteristics of both cultures to his detecting. The story begins when Jeffrey Anderson mysteriously disappears into the bush while out inspecting his employer's cattle station one April morning. Anderson was known around the area as a cruel man with a bad temper, thus his absence is not really mourned. However, a search is begun but yields no results. Five months later Bony is called in to solve this seemingly unsolvable mystery. Using both modern detecting skills and aboriginal intuition and dealing with both English feelings of colonialism and Aboriginal rights, Bony solves the puzzle while narrowly avoiding death himself.
On a deeper level, Upfield presents a political and social critique of the English treatment of Aboriginals in the first half of the 20th century. For the 1940's, Upfield even broaching this topic was radical. Detective fiction provided a way to support civil and social rights for aboriginals in a time when such acts were not accepted. Bony presents a character who combines seemingly "the best of both worlds": a civilized, intelligent, and humorous man who understands the reasons behind both the English treatment of the Aboriginals and the Aboriginals resulting feelings. This book is not only an excellent mystery but also a wonderful look at an often ignored group of people.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The stunning detective captures the past April 8 2002
Format:Paperback
From the very first page, the reader's mind starts spinning, trying to figure out the mysterious death of a young man. The clever Detective-Inspector Bonaparte embarks on a challenge to pin the murderer a long five months after the incident. This book is set in a small town, a ranch-like state, which aids the book in obtaining a individual essence for each of the characters. Since the events take place in one place, we see the characters interacting with each other and are able to form our own opinions for ourselves. This only creates an even more climatic ending when Bonaparte surprises the reader with an extreme discovery.
The reader is able to view the sharp wit and good-natured humor of the detecive. The detective is almost suggested to be mad, or stubbornly insane, because it seems like he is trying to find a needle in haystack. In is only in the end, when we see through the eyes of the detective, when we are able to agree on the intelligence and creativity of the characters, especially the detective himself. The local inhabitants are keeping their own secrets, so the reader is forced to think of ways to hurdle obstacles. Upfield is in his glory, writing his best and demonstrating his clever ideas and wit.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Bone is Pointed April 8 2002
Format:Paperback
Arthur Upfield's "The Bone is Pointed" introduces those of us who are not already familiar with him to Napoleon Bonaparte, Upfield's Australian, part-aborigine super-sleuth. Bonaparte inherits from this aboriginal background the sorts of tracking skills, sensitivity to environment, and keen eye for detail that we have come to expect from our literary detectives, along with the arrogance and self-importance that come with those skills. Whether we (as readers) end up appreciating those qualities is a fine line that every detective fiction writer walks, and Upfield is fairly deft at keeping "Bony's" arrogance checked. Unfortunately, other aspects of Bony's personality, and certain aspects of the mystery he is unravelling, tended to grate on this reader as a bit tedious. The book's strength lies in its evocation of the Australian ranch country and the ranchers and aborigines who inhabit it; but at times Upfield seems so concerned with establishing the skills and magic of the aborigines (which is, at least, a worthy cause) that Bony's actual detection work gets a bit bogged down with explanation after explanation of aboriginal behavior and magic. After all this detail towards the conflict between Bony's native know-how and the aboriginal magic acting against him, I was hoping for a real stunner of an ending to salvage the novel, but instead found that Upfield had let me in on too many of Bony's discoveries to make the conclusion anything of a surprise. While I would recommend this book to anybody with a predilection for the Australian or aboriginal, I'd have to say that, within the larger context of the detective genre, "The Bone is Pointed" is largely mediocre.
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