BONY, Aussie crime fiction's No.1 detective!

The Arthur W. Upfield page is at  https://sites.google.com/site/upfieldbony/home
but you will find my own trip through the
BONY novels below,
with linked reviews and a photo gallery of paperback covers.

2017 note - I'm moving all of my reviews to the GOODREADS web site.

Bob's in-depth Reviews:

ALSO REVIEWED: Follow my Dust, a biographical look at Arthur Upfield, by Jessica Hawke.

Page updated 7th June, 2017.

  The BONY series  
Listed by publication order Listed by title, exc. "A" and "The" TV Tie-in editions
The Barrakee Mystery, 1929
The Sands of Windee, 1931
Wings Above the Diamentina, 1936
Mr Jelly’s Business, 1937
Winds of Evil, 1937
The Bone is Pointed, 1938
The Mystery of Swordfish Reef, 1939
Bushranger of the Skies, 1940
Death of a Swagman, 1945
The Devil’s Steps, 1946
An Author Bites the Dust, 1948
The Mountains Have a Secret, 1948
The Widows of Broome, 1949
The Bachelors of Broken Hill, 1950
The New Shoe, 1951
Venom House, 1952
Murder Must Wait, 1953
Death of a Lake, 1954
Cake in the Hatbox, 1955
The Battling Prophet, 1956
The Man of Two Tribes, 1956
Bony Buys a Woman, 1957
Bony and the Mouse, 1959
Bony and the Black Virgin, 1959
Bony and the Kelly Gang, 1960
Bony and the White Savage, 1961
The Will of the Tribe, 1962
Madman's Bend, 1963
The Lake Frome Monster, 1966
An Author Bites the Dust, 1948
Bachelors of Broken Hill, The, 1950
Barrakee Mystery, The, 1929
Battling Prophet, The, 1956
Bone is Pointed, The, 1938
Bony and the Black Virgin, 1959
Bony and the Kelly Gang, 1960
Bony and the Mouse, 1959
Bony and the White Savage, 1961
Bony Buys a Woman, 1957
Bushranger of the Skies, 1940
Cake in the Hat Box, 1955
Death of a Lake, 1954
Death of a Swagman, 1945
Devil’s Steps, The, 1946
Lake Frome Monster, The, 1966
Madman's Bend, 1963
Man of Two Tribes, The, 1956
Mountains Have a Secret, The, 1948
Mr Jelly’s Business, 1937
Murder Must Wait, 1953
Mystery of Swordfish Reef, The, 1939
New Shoe, The, 1951
Sands of Windee, The, 1931
Venom House, 1952
Widows of Broome, The, 1949
Will of the Tribe, The, 1962
Winds of Evil, 1937
Wings Above the Diamentina, 1936
The Australian television series resulted in the publishing of various titles with a change in spelling.

"Bony" became BONEY, subtitled "An Inspector Bonaparte Mystery", as below.

Mini Reviews which can also be found at Goodreads .

An Author Bites the Dust
Bony in Melbourne and on holidays; relaxed and investigating an interesting case. A literary (not a popular) author has been found dead. Who did it, and how was it done? Humorous and always entertaining mystery with a host of interesting characters. 10/10

The Bachelors of Broken Hill
Two old bachelors, both untidy in their personal appearance, have been poisoned in Broken Hill, in front of witnesses. Bony, having been seconded from Queensland due to the failure of a Sydney tec' to solve the case, sets about in his usual style to solve the case. It's taken a long time to find this novel, and once again I've convinced that's due to the great story which one feels compelled to consume in one sitting. No doubt in my mind that this is a winner. 10/10

Barrakee Mystery, The
The first in the series, published in 1929, and particularly difficult to locate, with perhaps good reason. Bony is treated as some type of aberration in the police force, but in a different way to later books. The story itself concerns the murder of a WA Aborigine in NSW for reasons unknown. Bony is merely a supporting character with the main leads the landed white gentry of the Darling River region. This reader found Bony the only likable, well-rounded character. There are some great descriptive sections, especially that concerning the crossing of the swollen river, but the cast are mere blips. Perhaps that's what Upfield intended! The book itself was hard-going and even 5/10 seems a generous rating. NOT recommended unless you are a completist who has to read every Bony book, as some will find the content offensive.

Battling Prophet, The
Miracle weather forecaster is dead and his friend suspects foul play. Secret agents come looking for his papers while Bony is called in by a local involved in a previous case. Set is South Australia, this story seems somewhat muddled and I'm still not sure who committed the original murder, if that's what it was. 6/10

The Bone is  Pointed
Way out west, a man has disappeared. No one seems to have liked him. Bony arrives on the scene and is hit by a feeling of unease. Is he being followed, and by whom? Soon Bony is mentally struck down, knowing the bone has been pointed. Will Bony get his man, or die in the attempt. Obviously he doesn't, but as usual the story grabs the reader and just doesn't let up. 9/10

Bony and the Black Virgin
Surely one of Bony's most difficult cases as he scrounges for clues in the parched, drought-stricken bush. Two men have been beaten to death. The breaking of the drought provides an opportunity for some of the author's greatest prose and at the same time, the most dramatic conclusion to any Bony novel! 10/10

Bony and the Kelly Gang
Bony in Cork Valley, somewhere in the Bowra-Kiama region of NSW, looking for the killer of an Excise Officer. The Irish community hold attractions for Bony as he works at his usual pace towards the solving of a mystery, disguised as a horse-thief and escapee. A slow start for the first 70 or so pages, this novel accelerates to breakneck speed towards the exciting, amazing conclusion. 9/10

Bony and the Mouse
Western Australia finds Bony posing as a horse-breaker and later, barman, in a close-knit outback town. There are two and eventually four murders to solve. Bony soon finds out who did the murders but proving it in the eyes of white law is a tricky problem. Superb storytelling makes this my pick in the top few Bony novels. 10/10

Bony and the White Savage
Bony searches for a murderer wanted in South Australia, on the southern coast of Western Australia. Is the murderer still nearby, hidden by an old friend, or has he left the area? Lacking the tension and excitement of other Bony stories, but still interesting. 6/10

Bony Buys a Woman
A woman is killed on a property near Lake Eyre in South Australia, and her 7 year-old daughter has vanished. Yorky, one of the locals has disappeared and is under suspicion. As always, interesting and enjoyable but not up there with the best Bony mysteries. 6/10

Bushranger of the Skies
Aka "Bony fights the air terror" and similar to "The Sands of Windee". It's another long, detailed story, about a family of settlers way out West. A wayward brother who flies around dealing death from the skies, the local Indigenous Aussies and Bony. This Bony has his work cut out, solving the hows and whys concerning the death of a policeman and his sidekick. 6/10

Cake in the Hat Box
A copper is killed in the outback of Western Australia. Was it his tracker, or someone else who did the deed? Traditional and white methods are employed by the locals and Bony to track down the murderer. Another great story, interesting characters and plot twists keep the reader guessing. 9/10

Death of a Lake
Out west in NSW during the hottest Summer on record, Bony takes on the role of a breaker. A bloke on the run with a large amount of cash has disappeared. Lake Otway is dying in the heat, rabbits are in plague proportions and heading for the water. Yet another brilliant novel with some harrowing descriptions of death by selection in the Outback. 10/10

Death of a Swagman
Bony in disguise; there's nothing unusual in that. Bony at his methodical best, working his way into the life of Merino. Is there a serial killer at work in the district? Another great story commanding your devoted attention. You'll have to keep r
eading non-stop. No time to eat or do anything else; just keep turning those pages! 10/10

The Devil's Steps
Away for the bush, Bony takes on a case at Wideview Chalet, a luxury resort in Victoria. It involves a German who deserted the fatherland before its capitulation during WW2, and a mysterious size 10 boot print. This book remained the only Bony story I couldn't locate for over a year but my partner finally turned it up in a country town in NSW. Like most Bony stories it makes for compelling reading. Bony was, and remains, Australia's greatest fictional detective. 10/10

Follow My Dust
This biography on Arthur Upfield by Jessica Hawke was published in 1957. It includes an introduction by Bony! Truth is often stranger than fiction and this book proves the point. From Gosport in the UK to the rabbit-proof fence in the Outback, the author takes you on an adventure, following Arthur Upfield's life as he roughs it while, perhaps sometimes subconsciously, gathering material for his novels to come. You meet Tracker Leon and others whose characteristics would go to make up Bony and many other characters within the pages of these novels. The infamous John Thomas Smith, alias Snowy Rowles; was he guilty of the murder for which he was hung using Upfield's technique for totally destroying bodies, and did he commit two others? I'm still not certain. Highly recommended. 9/10

Lake Frome Monster, The
Initially interesting story set on the dingo-proof fence which runs down the South Australian border. The so-called "monster" has nothing much to do with the story so revealing his identity means little. He's a camel, previously ill-treated, and comes under Bony's spell early in the story. Upfield never completed the book; he died in 1964. Two others revised the notes and put the story together. Only recommended to Bony fans who've read the rest. 5/10

Man of Two Tribes
A woman acquitted of murdering her husband disappears from a train crossing the Nullarbor. Bony takes on the seemingly hopeless search for her and finds himself trapped in a cavern underneath the desert. Another great story. 9/10

Madman's Bend
Set during a flood down the Darling River, Bony finds himself trapped by the rising flood waters quickly washing away clues. Was the wife-beater Lush killed by the long-suffering daughter as she believes, or was it a tramp passing through? Brilliantly told with sparkling dialogue, a must-read; highly recommended. 10/10

Mr Jelly's Business
Burracoppin's a town near the rabbit-proof fence in Western Australia, a town that holds secrets. Bony does a swap with his pal John Muir for the chance of a mystery to suit his talents while on holiday. Mr Jelly disappears and reappears mysteriously during the hours of darkness. What's he up to? Resourceful Bony seems to have met his match, will he be able to solve this, perhaps his greatest case? 9/10

The Mountains have a Secret
Bony in search of two missing girls; are they alive or dead? Who are the military-like thugs masquerading as stockmen? Is anyone what they seem? This novel was finally found by Susan, a friend in Newcastle, NSW. My first Bony read for many months, I sat up late at night and into the morning to reach the climactic events in the final pages. Wow, yes, definitely a 10/10 .

Murder Must Wait
Four babies have disappeared in a small NSW town. A fifth has disappeared and his mother is found dead. All the babies are boys. A case for Bony, of course. An entertaining mystery which kind of wanders off towards the end. Still a good read and recommended to all mystery fans. 7/10

Mystery of Swordfish Reef, The
Bermagui on the south coast of NSW is the setting for this intriguing mystery. Three men on a fishing boat disappear, boat and all. The head of one, an ex-Scotland Yard man, is dragged up in a net. Bony arrives, in the guise of a keen angler wanting to hook one of the area's legendary swordfish. I've no interest in any kind of fishing, so was amazed at the pull of this book, especially as our favourite detective finds himself strapped in on the end of a fishing line, set for the fight of his life. This is a brilliantly executed mystery novel. 10/10

New Shoe, The
This was my first BONY novel, despite having collected them for many years. Bony is on (unofficial?) seconment to the Victorian police, to investigate the mystery of a man's body found walled up in Split Point lighthouse. The locals are a close community like communities everywhere, but Bony seems to have a knack of working his way in. The only upright character seems to be Stug. He's a dog who takes to Bony. Totally engrossing, this novel kept me reading and as I entered the final chapter, wanting more, I knew that Upfield had reeled me in! I've wandered around the place, piled up a dozen other Bony paperbacks, ready to read. Highly recommended to all readers, whatever your genre interests.

Sands of Windee The
A lengthy novel, the first of the series, longer than other Bony novels, with more extraneous detail the incidental characters. Is this a good thing? Well it took me close to 90 pages before I could really "get into" the story. Normally I find myself hooked from the first page but my mind kept wandering due to the lack of the main character's appearance in the early chapters. The author seems to have adopted a different style in this book. It just doesn't flow along so smoothly as for example in "Venom House" or "Cake in the Box'. Still, it gets you in but not one for the first time Upfield reader. 6/10

Venom House
The Answerths by all accounts are a weird family, living on their property surrounded by twin tributaries of a river near the coast of Queensland. Bony, investigating twin murders, soon finds himself submerged in their life. A great novel, full of humorous touches, wonderful characters and terrific dialogue. Why hasn't it been turned into a movie? 10/10

Widows of Broome, The
Broome is a town on the northwestern coast of Australia where everyone knows everyone. Two attractive widows have been murdered without leaving clues. This is the type of case Bony loves, but another will be murdered under his nose. Entertaining as always, you will never know what is coming next. 9/10

Will of the Tribe, The
A body is found in a meteorite crater in the top end and Bony is sent to find out how the stranger managed to reach the location without anyone knowing.. An intriguing mystery which keeps the reader guessing. 7/10

Winds of Evil
A mysterious murderer who seemingly moves through the trees and drops on his victims has Bony questioning his ability to solve the mystery. Another great story. 9/10

Wings Above the Diamentina
Set in Bony's home state of Queensland, this presents a mysteriously ill lady retrieved from an aircraft which somehow landed in one piece with no one at the controls. Many interesting characters and humorous interludes keep the reader's interest in what is a relatively lengthy novel and one of Upfield's best, which is saying something! 9/10

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