This tightly woven mystery brings back Sydney detective Scobie Malone (from Murder Song , etc.) to solve a politically sensitive murder in Australia's cotton country. The victim, Ken Sagawa, ran a Japanese-controlled cotton company in Collamundra. Although the citizens have reaped financial rewards from the company's presence, many are prejudiced against the Japanese. But who would have shot the outgoing Sagawa and dumped his body into the teeth of a cotton gin? Aware that the region needs Japanese investment, the police chief is determined to find the killer and calls on Scobie and his partner. Most of the Collamundrans they question are either unwilling to talk or offer weak alibis for their whereabouts at the time of the murder. Worse, there are no physical clues and any number of people seem to have had motives, among them, medical examiner Max Nothling, whose father died at the hands of Sagawa's father, a war criminal and the local aristocrat, Chess Hardstaff. A strange plot twist unfolds as an old man's disclosures prompt Scobie to reexamine the murder of Hardstaff's wife 17 years earlier. Just before the big weekend of the year, the Collamundra Cup horse races, an attempt on Malone's life sheds a surprising new light on the two murders. The ensuing resolution is strong indeed, rewarding the effort required to keep track of the many players.
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