(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Arthur W. Upfield’s originality comes mainly from two sources. One is his firsthand acquaintance with the whole of the Australian landscape, not only the towns, lakes, deserts, and mountains but also the infinite variety of fauna and flora that populate the continent. His readers can draw a map of Australia and place a particular crime. Upfield had Ernest Hemingway’s eye for detail and could bring alive the smallest incident peculiar to a certain area. Second is his vivid, totally believable characterization of Napoleon Bonaparte, who appears in most of his more than thirty novels. Bony can assume various characters, from swagman to deep-sea fisherman, depending on the place, to “get his man.” He also understands the different cultures in Australia and can mediate between them to restore order. Critics see the Americans James Fenimore Cooper and Herman Melville as models for Upfield’s humanism, symbolism, and rhetorical skills.