"Not all murder victims are mourned, but the perpetrator must always be punished ... Robert Church, Superintendent of the Parramatta Female Factory, takes full advantage of his position. First, there are the opportunities to siphon off supplies and sell them. And the Factory also provides an excellent front for Robert's sly grog business. But to Robert's mind, the most enjoyable part of the job is access to the young convict women under his care. There are irritants and Grace O'Leary is chief among them. She has made it her mission to protect the younger women from Robert's nocturnal visits. She even went as far as to organise a riot sparked by his treatment of the women. Robert will deal with Grace in due course. But for now, fresh from visiting one of the Factory's new arrivals, he feels rather pleased with himself. Until he hears footsteps following him across the courtyard. Turning, he just has time to recognise his assailant before the tip of an awl is rammed upwards into his brain via his right eyeball. Recently arrived from Port Macquarie, ticket-of-leave gentleman convict Hugh Llewelyn Monsarrat now lives in a small but comfortable house in Parramatta. He would be more than happy for his housekeeper, Mrs Mulrooney, to have the best room in the house. She, however, prefers to have her own domain, and lives in a room adjoining the free-standing kitchen. There is only one aspect of their relationship on which Monsarrat insists. At the request of the murdered Honora Shelborne, Mrs Mulrooney's former employer, Monsarrat is teaching Mrs Mulrooney to read. Monsarrat is now attached to the Attorney General's office, officially as a clerk, but also as an unofficial advisor on criminal and legal matters. He is visited by the Attorney General's Secretary, Rupert Symes, who tells him the superintendent of the Female Factory has been murdered. A convict woman, Grace O'Leary had a particular grudge against him and is being held. Monsarrat is asked to take a statement from her. Grace doesn't strike Monsarrat as a murderer and so he goes each day to the Female Factory, to transcribe the depositions of prisoners and staff while Grace remains the official suspect. Mrs Mulrooney comes with him, and strikes up a friendship with Grace. She also meets Rebecca Nelson. Mrs Nelson, whose husband encourages philanthropy, regularly visits the Factory to do what she can for the women there. Once the depositions have all been taken, Grace still looks set to stand trial for the murder, a crime of which she still claims to be innocent. Monsarrat and Mrs Mulrooney both believe her, but are at a loss when it comes to exonerating her. A number of people held grudges against Church and many are relieved by his death, but who would stretch to murdering him?"
Publication Date: 27-Feb-2017
Publisher: Random House Australia