‘The Unmourned’ is the 2nd novel in Meg and Tom Keneally’s Monsarrat series which features ex-convict, clerk and sleuth Hugh Llewellyn Monsarrat.
Monsarrat was granted his ticket of leave in Port Macquarie and has now moved to Parramatta, West of Sydney, to take up a position as clerk to the Governor’s secretary. He has set up his own household with Mrs Hannah Mulrooney as his housekeeper.
But soon after his arrival, his investigative skills are once again called on. The superintendent of the infamous female factory has been brutally murdered. The Female factory’s purpose was to protect female convicts from the mostly male society, while making a profit from their work. But Robert Church abused his position as superintendent. He reduced rations, selling the leftovers for his own profit, and he abused the women – the younger and prettier, the better.
Many had a motive for his murder, but convict Grace O’Leary is the only suspect that the officials are looking at. She protected the younger convicts and started a riot.
Monsarrat soon sees Grace’s innocence but he has only a few days to find the real murderer and the officials are against his carrying out any investigation.
It takes all of Monsarrat’s and Mrs Mulrooney’s skills to unravel the case, and there is the constant threat of them receiving further sentences.
This was a fast moving thriller as well as a tour of the Parramatta Female Factory where convicts were regularly starved, beaten and raped.
The characters in the story were excellent and I particularly loved Hannah Mulrooney. She reminds me very much of some of my Irish schoolfriends’ mothers.
Once again, attachments to the wrong women has almost led to Monsarrat’s downfall.
At the end of the story he is sent to Van Diemen’s land (Tasmania) to solve another case. I look forward to reading this next adventure.
Book Published 2017