‘The Power Game’ is the 3rd novel in the Monserrat series by father and daughter team Meg and Tom Keneally. The series is set in colonial Australia and Monserrat is an ex-convict who along with his housekeeper Mrs Mulrooney has a natural ability for solving crimes.
After successfully solving cases in Port Macquarie and Parramatta, Monserrat is now being sent to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) to solve another case and his conditional ticket of freedom is dependent on his success.
A Penal colony has been set up on the small Island of Maria off the east coast of Tasmania. The Island is serviced by a regular boat, but now the boatman has been found brutally murdered. Monserrat has been sent to find the murderer and if possible to affix blame to the high profile Irish revolutionary convict Thomas Power. The authorities on the island are offended that someone has been sent from Sydney and would be happy to blame Power with no evidence.
But Monserrat is soon convinced of Power’s innocence (at least of the murder). He finds a badly run settlement with a commandant interested only in his ability to impress his superiors. Meanwhile, there is a thriving blackmarket in alcohol and the boatman Harefield seems to have been heavily involved in spreading gossip and blackmailing his victims. No one on the island seems to be interested in helping Monserrat except the abused wife and brother-in-law of the commandant. And Thomas Power is more interested in toying with Monserrat than in clearing his own name.
But when Monserrat and Mrs Mulrooney finally discover the identity of the murderer, it comes as a complete shock. Now they have to work on preventing further injustices from occurring within the settlement.
Mrs Mulrooney can’t wait to get back home to her kitchen that knows how to behave, and Monserrat is keen to see Parramatta convict Grace O’Leary again to win her heart before her release.
This was another excellent addition to this series which showcases Australia’s convict history. The characters within the novel are convincing and I particularly enjoy Mrs Mulrooney. My favourite character in this novel was Walter.
I enjoyed both the plotting and the excellent writing in this novel and I’m looking forward to reading book 4 of the series which will most likely be set in Sydney.