My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thoroughly entertaining romp through the wilds of the early Hobart settlement with the requisite cast of scumbags, reprobates, opportunists and good men lost in moral quagmires. Bartulin has a deft touch with character and inner voice and imbues even the over-the-top cartoon figure of the book’s nominal bad guy, Brown George Coyne, with believable and understandable motives. But nobody really comes out of this novel looking rosy: even those who attempt to tread the moral path, such as the main protagonists Burr and McQuillan, do so from blatant self-interest or opportunism, and as their various sub-plots merge and collide the waters only grow increasingly murky, until thye reader is swept along by the sheer volume of viccisitude. This is adventure writing with just enough historical accuracy to give the book thew whiff of verisimilitide: good, clean dirty fun, and all the more welcome for it.