The Swan Island Connection

New Release from Dorothy Johnston - 'The Swan Island Connection'

October release of ‘The Swan Island Connection’

The second in Dorothy Johnston’s sea-change mystery series

Release Date – 7th October, 2017: Award-winning Australian author, Dorothy Johnston, has announced the release of the second novel in her sea-change mystery series, The Swan Island Connection.

Set in Queenscliff on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula, The Swan Island Connection follows on from Through a Camel’s Eye, published in April 2016 by For Pity Sake Publishing.

Senior Constable, Chris Blackie and his deputy, Anthea Merritt, are confronted by a shocking murder that rocks the small coastal town. Criminal Investigation Unit detectives are brought in from Geelong, as Chris and Anthea become increasingly uneasy about the interest shown in the case by shadowy figures from the secret military training base on nearby Swan Island. Consigned to the edges of the investigation in their own town, the two local constables pursue individual lines of enquiry which proves a dangerous course of action.

Political commentator, Brian Toohey said this about The Swan Island Connection;

‘Dorothy Johnston has delivered an intriguing blend of social observation and crime fiction in her latest novel set in Queenscliff, Victoria. The story is spliced with a sharp sub plot involving the nearby training base for the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. Another strong contribution to the reputation of the nation’s novelists.’

The Swan Island Connection will be launched by Garry Spry, Hon. President of the Queenscliff Historical Museum, and the former State Member for Bellarine (1992-2002) at the Queenscliff Brewhouse on October 7th at 4pm. RSVP for this free event by the 4th of October: info@thebookshopatqueenscliff.com.


 

Dorothy Johnston was born in Geelong and lived in Canberra for thirty years before returning to Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula where The Swan Island Connection and its predecessor, Through a Camel’s Eye, are set.

Johnston is the author of eleven novels, including a quartet of mysteries set in Canberra, the first of which, The Trojan Dog, was joint winner ACT Book of the Year, and runner-up in the inaugural Davitt Award. The Age gave it their ‘Best of 2000’ in the crime section.

Two of Johnston’s literary novels, One for the Master and Ruth, have also been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin award.

Through a Camel’s Eye, was recently mentioned in the commendation list of the Sisters in Crime 2017 Davitt Awards.


 

Pre-orders of The Swan Island Connection are available from the For Pity Sake Shop.

The Best Binge-worthy True Crime TV Shows

A couple of weeks ago, Dorothy Johnston told us about her time living close to a secret military base. The experience inspired her newest novel, The Swan Island Connection, which is available for pre-sale now. Here at For Pity Sake, we can hardly wait to unleash the book on the world. If you’ve ordered the book but are hungry for more crime inspired by true events, we’ve got you covered. Here are three true crime television series you can down in a single gulp to get you ready for the release of The Swan Island Connection.

 

Making a Murderer - Netflix

If you’re one of the few people left alive who hasn’t seen this remarkable 2016 hit, then you’re in for a treat. This dramatic examination of a stunning double murder case and its prosecution is deeply addictive. Every episode comes with new twists and turns. The documentarians have unprecedented access to everyone - the lawyers, the family, the lead suspect, and more. What begins as a simple case with DNA evidence slowly unravels into a story of corruption, exploitation and a search for justice.

 

The Keepers - Netflix

Almost fifty years ago, a nun was murdered in an ordinary American town. The case is still unsolved. The Keepers is frustratingly less open-and-shut than Making a Murderer, but it means you won’t be able to resist the temptation to become an armchair detective. In fact, the most compelling part of this fantastic series is following the journey of the small group of women who have taken up the case, disturbed by the local police’s lack of action on the matter. They uncover a far-reaching group of abuse survivors who form a unique community. It’s the examination of these survivors as the case unfolds that will keep you glued.

 

The Jinx - HBO, available on Foxtel Now

Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki receives a phone call from Robert Durst: the exiled member of a New York millionaire family who is a suspected serial killer. Robert wants an interview. The series only gets weirder from there. The slick, gripping series pulls apart the evidence on multiple murder charges. At the time the series went to air Robert Durst was walking free. The series helped to put charges back on him, and he’s currently awaiting trial. It’s a disturbing portrayal of a dark corner of humanity.

 

Don’t delay, pre-order your copy of The Swan Island Connection now.

Anecdotes on 'The Swan Island Connection'

For Pity Sake is thrilled to bring a new Dorothy Johnston mystery to readers. In 2016, Through A Camel’s Eye delighted readers as it told the story of police officers Chris Blackie and Anthea Merritt investigating a murder in the small town of Queenscliff. You can buy Through a Camel’s Eye here.

You can now pre-order the next in Dorothy’s sea-change mystery series – The Swan Island Connection – once again featuring local constable Chris Blackie and his deputy, Anthea Merritt. Inspired by real Queenscliff folklore, The Swan Island Connection sees Chris and Anthea consigned to the edges of a shocking murder investigation that somehow involves the secret military training base stationed on the island just off the coast of their peaceful town.

Here, author Dorothy Johnston shares some anecdotes of living in Queenscliff, where local residents must share their town with shadowy military agents.

Though the existence of a secret training base on Swan Island was denied for years by successive federal governments, Brian Toohey and Bill Pinwell, in their book, ‘Oyster: The Story of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service’ offers some tantalising details.

“(On Swan Island) the eager young army officers and NCOs learnt the dark arts of demolition, disguise, deception, sabotage, secret communication, and assassination… In one exercise on Swan Island the incorrect line of fire was set on a Chinese medium machine gun so that tracer bullets shot over the sandhills into the rigging of fishing boats in Port Phillip Bay. Fortunately for ASIS the only complaint made to the media was about the noise…”

There’s a special kind of snail that lives in the seagrass of Swan Bay. Because the bay is so shallow, it’s an important fish nursery and the baby fish eat the snails. Marine scientists didn’t know why the snail numbers were decreasing. They did a study and found that the lead in the bullets has been turning all the snails into males. I don’t know the end result of this, but I’d hope that those organizing target practice would find other, safer ways than firing into the water.

Local legends date from the time when regular army personnel were allowed to have their families living with them on the island. One woman recalls a birthday when she was a small girl, how she and her friends had gone for a walk in their party dresses and came upon a soldier in full combat gear lying in the marram grass. Another incident involved a night-time exercise, with trainees climbed across roofs and one inadvertently jumping down onto the family dog.

Part of the island is occupied by a golf club and my favourite story is about my mother and a group of critically endangered orange-bellied parrots.

Each Winter, the parrots used to fly across to Swan Island from Tasmania. My mother, a keen environmentalist and bird-lover used to observe and record them. Sadly, there haven’t been any for the past few years. My mother was given permission to enter the golf club part of the island for this. One day, engrossed in her task, she didn’t realise that the birds had ventured into the forbidden zone. Following them, she was shocked by a loud voice bellowing ‘Stop!’ and three soldiers in combat gear running through the bushes. Mum was a small woman, though by no means a cowardly one. She stood still, clutching her clipboard to her chest, and explained politely that she was tracking the parrots who couldn’t read the Keep Out signs.

Where Were You When the Page Was Blank?

Authors sometimes grumble about their editors, and the question I’ve chosen as a title for this post is one I’ve often heard authors repeat.

But I’m pleased to say that I have a wonderful editor for my new novel, titled The Swan Island Connection. This novel is a sequel to the first of my sea-change mysteries, Through a Camel’s Eye, which was published in April by For Pity Sake Publishing

The editor’s name is David Burton. David, an editor with For Pity Sake, is also an award-winning playwright and theatre director, whose plays include April’s Fool, Orbit and The Landmine Is Me. He has written a memoir titled How to be Happy.As an editor, Dave possesses that rare quality, (rare in my experience), in that he takes the trouble to see into an author’s mind, think about where he or she is trying to get to, and how he might help them to arrive.

Dave read what I am now calling the Dog’s Breakfast Draft (DBD) of The Swan Island Connection and wrote a nineteen page report. When I first saw the report, I felt daunted. There must be an awful lot wrong with the manuscript, I thought, to require this many pages. But the report, while critical, is constructively so, and that makes all the difference. In tone it is far from negative, and is full of helpful ideas and suggestions. And the very fact that someone who know what he’s talking about has paid such close attention to my DBD has given it, and me, a whole new lease of life. Thank you, Dave!

The Swan Island Connection will be my eleventh novel to be published. The first was in 1984, and since then I’ve run the gamut from good editors to woeful. Amongst the good I number Jenny Lee and Lois Murphy, and amongst the woeful, who shall be nameless, the lesbian separatist who read my book about the British atomic bomb tests at Maralinga. This was not, on the face of it her subject, and she made no effort to meet me half, or even a quarter of the way. Another was the editor who used to ring me at 6 PM, just before she left the office, to discuss editorial points that required thought and concentration. At the time this editor was assigned to me, I had a four-year-old and a baby who wouldn’t sleep, plus a deadline for the manuscript. One horrible evening I shouted at her down the phone, ‘Don’t you realise it’s jungle hour!’ I’ve felt ashamed of that outburst ever since.

Then there was my New York editor whose publishing company had bought the first two of my Sandra Mahoney Quartet (mystery novels set in Canberra, where I lived for thirty years). This editor, though I respected him, and of course felt grateful that my books were going to be published in the United States, insisted that I change all my galahs to parrots, all my jumpers to sweaters, and that I massage the text in various other unsavoury ways in order to make it more attractive to an American readership.

Recalling all that, I’ll say again – thank you, Dave!

And thanks to Bill Whitehead the cartoonist for reminding me how much I like Dickens.

 

 

 


This blog was originally posted on Dorothy Johnston's website, on the 12th of August 2016.