July 2, 2008
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Man of Two Tribes

by Arthur Upfield

Can Arthur Upfield truly be out of print?

Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte is half Abo, half white-Australian, and has risen to be Australia’s top detective. Upfield writes well, and with a certain sensitivity: when Dorothy Sayers or Agatha Christie touched on race, what remains is a blemish, while Upfield says his piece well and dexterously. I think Upfield’s influence on Hillerman is very clear, for example; compare, for example, Man of Two Tribes with Hillerman’s Thief of Time. Another reminder in this surprisingly-fresh 1955 procedural proves instructive: at one point, our hero finds himself in a tight spot with a group of assorted murderers who, having been spared the gallows and served long terms in prison, are now on parole. They are led by a psychiatrist who was condemned as an abortion provider.