Miles Off Course (Hardcover)
"Norman Lindsay is a complete and utter bastard "
With this curse heaped upon the renowned real-life Australian artist and cartoonist, Miles Off Course gets underway. It is early in 1933, and wealthy bohemian Rowland Sinclair and his companions, a poet, a painter, and a sculptress who also models nude, are ensconced in the superlative luxury of The Hydro Majestic-Medlow Bath, where trouble seems distant, despite Australia's being roiled by the same political currents as are upending Europe.
But Rowland, try as he might to lead the boho life in Sydney in the family mansion or in a luxury spa, can't dismiss the responsibilities of being a Sinclair. Most of them rest upon his conservative elder brother, Wilfred. And Wil now makes two claims on Rowly. One is to appear at an important upcoming board meeting of a firm where Rowly, pressured by Wil, serves as a director. And the other is to hustle up into the high country where a longtime family stockman appears to have gone missing - and find him.
Harry Simpson is an aborigine. The easy answer is that Harry has gone walkabout, but neither Sinclair brother believes this to be true. Plus there are the Sinclair cattle to round up.
Instead of saddling up, Rowly insists upon driving his beautiful if despised Mercedes-Benz and taking a posse in the persons of his three live-in friends along. And off they go into a rollicking Outback adventure, where the familiar elements of an American Western blend with gangsters, spies, murder - and a very belligerent writer. The plot dances inventively around actual historical events and a cameo appearance or two made by famous Australian historical figures. Which takes us back to Norman Lindsay....
Miles Off Course follows closely upon A Few Right-Thinking Men and A Decline in Prophets.