Arthur Upfield and Inspector Bonaparte

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at
Thu Aug 1 08:24:24 EDT 2002

Here is a full list of the Boney books (courtesy of a
reference work of US origin - Steinbrunner and Penzler
"Encyclopedia of mystery and detection")
The Barrakee mystery (The lure of the bush) - 1928
The sands of Windee - 1931
Wings above the Diamantina (Wings above the claypan) -
Mr Jelly' business (Murder down under) - 1937
Winds of evil - 1937
The bone is pointed - 1938
The mystery of swordfish reef - 1939
Bushranger of the skies (No footprints in the bush) -
Death of a swagman - 1945
devil's steps - 1946
An author bites the dust - 1948
The mountains have a secret - 1948
The widows of broome 1950
The bachelors of Broken Hill - 1950
The new shoe - 1951
Venom house - 1952
Murder must wait - 1953
Death of a lake - 1954
The cake in the hat box (Sinister stones) - 1954
The battling prophet - 1956
The man of two tribes - 1956
Boney buys a woman (The bushman who came back) - 1957
Boney and the black virgin - 1959
Boney and the mouse (Journey to the hangman) - 1959
Boney and the kelly gang (Valley of the smugglers) -
Boney and the white savage (The white savage) - 1961
The will of the tribe (1962)
Madman's bend (The body at madman's bend) - 1963
The lake Frome monster - 1966 - this title was
published posthumously (Upfield died in 1964) being
completed by JL Price and Dorothy Strange.

The character of Boney was based upon a real person
whom Upfield had met in the 1920s, an aborigine named
Tracker Leon and the original story The Barakee
mystery was revised to include him. As well as the
1970s TV series (which stared a New Zealand maori
actor as Boney, I seem to recall that there was also a
movie somewhat later, although I can't find a
reference on the IMDB site. 
I don't know if I'd call Upfield the greatest Aussie
detective writer. Perhaps the most famous (though now
forgotten) was Fergus Hume whose "Mystery of the
Hansom cab" - 1886 - was the best selling detective
story of the 19th century (available on-line), while
my favourites are Peter Corris's Cliff Hardy stories
and Marelle Day's Claudia Valentine. There is also, on
a more unusual bent, a series of stories by an author
i can't recall in which the detective is Jesus, now
making a living as a minor drug dealer in Perth.  Not
that I'm a great reader of detective stories - the
only one's I look for are Lindsey Davis's Falco
stories (which have a vague Oz connection in that the
movie starred Oz actor Bryan Brown). From peter
Corris, but not detective, I like his Box office
Browning stories - which are about an Aussie Hollywood
actor of the 20s through 50s and are similer in style
to the Flashman stories. 
On the Upfield books i don't know how available they
are, I know quite a few have been out in paperback
recently enough to be common (every school library
I've run has had at least half a dozen), but I'm
unsure if the lot are available.

Jon Noble
Who for two years was a bachelor of Broken Hill (and
spent a third as a married man of broken Hill - a city
best depicted in film and literature in Kenneth Cook's
"Wake in fright")

--- Kathleen Jennings <s368333 at>
> First of all, don't bother with the TV series, at
> least if you are expecting
> it to be related to the books.
> I read the series a number of years ago, after
> getting tired of Agatha
> Christie. From my memories, I would recommend them.
> Good mysteries, decent
> writing, a lot of scenes of an Australia you don't
> often get to read about.
> I think I actually have a few of the books left in a
> box on top of my
> bookcase. Hang on a minute...
> Yes, there's 11 there but all have the alphabetical
> list. As I recall, the
> order in which the books are read isn't vitally
> important.
> Winds of Evil 1937
> The Mystery of Swordfish Reef 1939
> Death of a Swagman 1945
> The Bone is Pointed 1947
> The Widows of Broome 1950
> The Mountains have a Secret 1952
> Death of a Lake 1954
> The Battling Prophet 1956
> Bony and the Black Virgin 1959
> Bony and the Kelly Gang 1960 (the 25th of his books)
> Madman's Bend 1963
> All references to the books seem to be generally
> favourable. Some of the
> later editions include this disclaimer:
> Part of the appeal of Arthur Upfield's stories lies
> in their authentic
> portrayal of many aspects of outback Australian life
> in the 1930s and
> through into the 1950s. The dialogue, especially, is
> a faithful evocation of
> how people spoke. Hence these books reflect and
> depict the attitudes and
> ways of speech, particularly with regard to
> Aborigines and to women, which
> were then commonplace. In reprinting these books the
> publisher does not
> endorse the attitudes or opinions they express.

Do You Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Health - Feel better, live better
To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list