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Publisher's Summary

On 4 June 1629, the Dutch vessel Batavia struck uncharted rocks off the Western Australian coast. By the time help arrived, over 120 men, women and children had met their deaths - not in the sea but murdered by two fellow survivors, Wouter Loos and Jan Pelgrom.

In 1986 teenager Steven Messenger discovers gruesome relics from that wreck. Four months later he disappears without a trace.

Where is Messenger? Is his disappearance linked to the relics? Someone knows...somewhere....

©1990 Garry Crew (P)2015 Bolinda

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A book with more than meets the eye...

I initially read this book back at school (some 20 years ago) - I can remember Gary Crew coming to our school and, quite frankly, becoming frustrated with us for reading it on surface value. I distinctly remember one of my friends jokingly pondering,
"So what - you mean Hope Michaels is sleeping with Nigel Kratzman?"
Crew's response was, with some relief, "Finally, now you're thinking..."

While the book got a little slow through the middle at times, it's a well researched and - I found quite effectively - written in epistolary format as a series of documents. I thought it was a mysteriously intriguing look into a lesser known piece of Australian history (I'm now listening to Peter Fitzsimons' Batavia), historical perspectives and analysis (i'm a historian - go figure) and "white" perceptions (certainly around the time) of Australian aboriginals. I feel like Crew is giving more credit to the Aboriginal people than is obvious in the book.

The end of the book left me with chills and questioning almost everything I'd listened to up to that point. I feel like I have to listen to the end again to confirm, or disprove my opinions that had been formed as I went along - have to say that's surely a great thing in any story! Stig Wemyss, apparently well known for narration in Australia, does try to add different voices as he goes - I wasn't initially a huge fan of his Walter Loos, but I feel it worked overall reasonably well.

If you're into young adult fiction (which is I felt undoubtedly adequate for adults in this case) with a strong Australian historical, psychological and mysterious flavour, give it a well earned try!