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Man of Two Tribes

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Myra Thomas, apparently dressed only in nightgown and slippers, has walked off the train somewhere along the 650 kilometres of track that crosses the Nullabor Plain. With two camels and a dog, Bony begins to search the desert, only to find a group of people imprisoned in the extensive limestone caves beneath the plain...


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Myra Thomas, apparently dressed only in nightgown and slippers, has walked off the train somewhere along the 650 kilometres of track that crosses the Nullabor Plain. With two camels and a dog, Bony begins to search the desert, only to find a group of people imprisoned in the extensive limestone caves beneath the plain...

30 review for Man of Two Tribes

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erica Verrillo

    So far, this is my favorite of the "Bony" mysteries. (I've read 15 of them.) As always, Upfield's description of the Australian outback is beyond compare. You really feel the heat of the Nullarbor Plain, its intense isolation. And, of course, the skills that Napoleon Bonaparte, Upfield's memorable half-aborigine detective, utilizes to survive in it are remarkable. The plot of this tale is quite unusual, as the murder does not occur until nearly half the book is over. The real mystery is not whod So far, this is my favorite of the "Bony" mysteries. (I've read 15 of them.) As always, Upfield's description of the Australian outback is beyond compare. You really feel the heat of the Nullarbor Plain, its intense isolation. And, of course, the skills that Napoleon Bonaparte, Upfield's memorable half-aborigine detective, utilizes to survive in it are remarkable. The plot of this tale is quite unusual, as the murder does not occur until nearly half the book is over. The real mystery is not whodunit (although, that is the puzzle Bony must solve), but why a group of released murderers is being held captive in a hole in the middle of the desert. The answer to that question, and the strange predicament in which Bony finds himself while "stuck in the hole" are what make this book stand out. But what really captivated me was not just the absorbing plot, or the undeniable charisma of Upfield's protagonist. It was the eloquence with which Upfield reveals his true feelings about Australia. About three-quarters of the way through the story, Bony sets out to rescue one of the members of the group who has foolishly wandered off into the barren waste. Bony finds the man nearly dead of heat exhaustion. What Bony says to him at that moment is what lies at the heart of all Upfield's novels. "You will come to love Australia, as I do," says Bony. "You have to get down on your stomach, press your face into the sand and against the hot gibbers, smell the land and feel through your empty belly its closeness to you, woo it with a voice clogged by the lack of saliva. And then, as with many men, this naked fair Australia will become the great love of your life ... You lucky, lucky man." We are all lucky to have the stories of Arthur Upfield. Through them, may we come to love "this naked fair Australia" as wholeheartedly as he did.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Vintagebooklvr

    This isn't that much of a traditional mystery where the detective is trying to figure out whodunit, that is part of it but a small part, as a survival tale in the unforgiving Australian Nullarbor Plain and with a desperate group of isolated murderers. The descriptions of Australia are mesmerizing and pulse with the soul of the Australian continent. This isn't that much of a traditional mystery where the detective is trying to figure out whodunit, that is part of it but a small part, as a survival tale in the unforgiving Australian Nullarbor Plain and with a desperate group of isolated murderers. The descriptions of Australia are mesmerizing and pulse with the soul of the Australian continent.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mike Billington

    I am an Arthur Upfield fan not only because he has created one of the world's great fictional detectives in Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte but also because he is unflinching in his descriptions of Australia and its people. "Man of Two Tribes" demonstrates this, perhaps, better than most of his other novels. His descriptions of the harsh Nullarbor Plain are wonderful as are his descriptions of both the white and aboriginal people who live in and around that treeless expanse. Upfield, for example, doe I am an Arthur Upfield fan not only because he has created one of the world's great fictional detectives in Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte but also because he is unflinching in his descriptions of Australia and its people. "Man of Two Tribes" demonstrates this, perhaps, better than most of his other novels. His descriptions of the harsh Nullarbor Plain are wonderful as are his descriptions of both the white and aboriginal people who live in and around that treeless expanse. Upfield, for example, does not shy away from the racism that dominated Australia in the 1950s, when this novel was written. His portrayal of the arrogant Weatherby family, who treat their aboriginal employees with disdain and who feel completely justified taking the law into their own hands, faithfully captures Australian attitudes of that time period. Likewise, his descriptions of the "abos" also has the ring of truth, which is not surprising since he spent a lot of time with them as he roamed Australia for a good share of his life. Bonaparte, half white and half aboriginal, is the "Man of Two Tribes" and in this novel he must draw on both sides of his ancestral tree to not only escape a wicked plot but also to solve a puzzling murder. That's not easy since he has almost too many suspects and all of them are killers. I won't say more about the plot because that would spoil it for those who have not yet read this book. Suffice it to say that Bonaparte figures out who the murderer is by patiently observing the suspects as they trek the plain. Upfield's narrative style is similar to the late Tony Hillerman's Navajo Tribal Police novels so if you like the tales of Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, you will probably enjoy this and other books chronicling the career of Inspector Bonaparte. I certainly do.

  4. 4 out of 5

    John

    Four and a half stars. This is not really a detective story, more a "Boys Own" adventure yarn but none the worse for that. In fact, it is very good yarn indeed. I sat up late for three nights in a row to finish it. Upfield's description of the harshness of the Nullabor Plain is superbly well drawn and Bony is a great character. Although the plot is totally improbable, the story hums along really well. The sentiments expressed by the younger Mrs Weatherby at the end about the way she saw the syst Four and a half stars. This is not really a detective story, more a "Boys Own" adventure yarn but none the worse for that. In fact, it is very good yarn indeed. I sat up late for three nights in a row to finish it. Upfield's description of the harshness of the Nullabor Plain is superbly well drawn and Bony is a great character. Although the plot is totally improbable, the story hums along really well. The sentiments expressed by the younger Mrs Weatherby at the end about the way she saw the system of justice in Australia at that time could still apply to many people in many places in the world today. I won't say more as it would be a spoiler. Thoroughly recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nona

    Another interesting read from Arthur UPFIELD extolling the attributes of his ace Detective Napoleon BONAPARTE. In all his novels he shows great talent in understanding the ways of Australia's Aborigines in not only dealing with white people, but in living and understanding Australia's land and its history. Apart from some, what we would call today "politically incorrect language" UPFIELD's work is timeless, and it could easily with a few changes here and there be set in the 21st century. Again a g Another interesting read from Arthur UPFIELD extolling the attributes of his ace Detective Napoleon BONAPARTE. In all his novels he shows great talent in understanding the ways of Australia's Aborigines in not only dealing with white people, but in living and understanding Australia's land and its history. Apart from some, what we would call today "politically incorrect language" UPFIELD's work is timeless, and it could easily with a few changes here and there be set in the 21st century. Again a great read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Four years ago, almost exactly, I read my first Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte mystery. I wanted more but was unable to find them at my local library. When a friend loaned me two books a couple of weeks ago, I thought there was something familiar about them, haha. Thanks Diane! This book had more of what I had hoped for in the first one - a bit more of Australia, a bit more of the man who straddles two cultures. And an unusual mystery. Old fashioned and a good read. As I said four years ago, I'll Four years ago, almost exactly, I read my first Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte mystery. I wanted more but was unable to find them at my local library. When a friend loaned me two books a couple of weeks ago, I thought there was something familiar about them, haha. Thanks Diane! This book had more of what I had hoped for in the first one - a bit more of Australia, a bit more of the man who straddles two cultures. And an unusual mystery. Old fashioned and a good read. As I said four years ago, I'll be reading more of this series.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Koen

    - Reviewer John (four stars) says it - quickly. - I would add: One of his very best. Prominently features Upfields typifying strenghts: I -1) superb descriptions of nature and natural phenomena in plain, unadorned, stark terms; 2) superb descriptions of the interaction between humans and some of the other animals, in the understanding of which latter* Upfield proves himself time and again way ahead of his time - as he does in 3) his enlightened treatment of the "race" issue - another recurrent th - Reviewer John (four stars) says it - quickly. - I would add: One of his very best. Prominently features Upfields typifying strenghts: I -1) superb descriptions of nature and natural phenomena in plain, unadorned, stark terms; 2) superb descriptions of the interaction between humans and some of the other animals, in the understanding of which latter* Upfield proves himself time and again way ahead of his time - as he does in 3) his enlightened treatment of the "race" issue - another recurrent theme -(not all that prominent in this book.). II - Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, hero of the stories - to my mind the a) most realistic/believable and, above all, b) most intelligent and thus perspicacious and thus most humane and thus most sympathetic of all fictional detectives ... (sorry, Columbo). Would have given five stars if it didn't also prominently feature Upfield's trademark weakness: a rather clumsy murder mystery. 4.5 *Is that proper English? (Sincere question by non-native.)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    Bony is just as enjoyable as ever in this entry in the Inspector Napoleon Bonapart mystery series. If you have never read one of Upfield's books, Bony (Inspector Bonapart) is a half-white, half-aborigine police detective who is equally at home in both worlds, but his detective abilities shine in the bush. I love Upfield's descriptions of the Australian outback & the way of life lived by both whites & aborigines at that time (early to mid-1900's). Bony is just as enjoyable as ever in this entry in the Inspector Napoleon Bonapart mystery series. If you have never read one of Upfield's books, Bony (Inspector Bonapart) is a half-white, half-aborigine police detective who is equally at home in both worlds, but his detective abilities shine in the bush. I love Upfield's descriptions of the Australian outback & the way of life lived by both whites & aborigines at that time (early to mid-1900's).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    In Arthur Upfield's books, unique features of Australia become another character; in this case, the Nullarbor Plain. Much of the action in the story plays out on the plain and Upfield's vivid descriptions bring the vastness to life. This passage captures the weariness of walking for miles on the Nullarbor: "Forward. Effort without motive. You walk a street and there is a lamp standard ahead to walk to, to pass, to leave behind you. Something is always happening. Nothing happened here save the spe In Arthur Upfield's books, unique features of Australia become another character; in this case, the Nullarbor Plain. Much of the action in the story plays out on the plain and Upfield's vivid descriptions bring the vastness to life. This passage captures the weariness of walking for miles on the Nullarbor: "Forward. Effort without motive. You walk a street and there is a lamp standard ahead to walk to, to pass, to leave behind you. Something is always happening. Nothing happened here save the speeding cloud shadows, and for them you ought to be grateful. You came from nowhere, and you are going to nowhere, for nowhere isn't a place or a thing. You count your steps: a hundred, a thousand, a million, and you are on the same spot you were on in the beginning." On top of the hardships of foot travel in this desolate wasteland, Upfield brings together six characters with different personalities bound by similar experience. The plot centers around murder, and Inspector Bonaparte's search for one murderer in particular, but includes topics of psychology, philosophy, misogyny and racism in subtle but significant ways. (And watch out for Lucy, Millie and Curley!) I've only read three of Upfield's books but will be looking for more.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elise

    A bookseller in Seattle told me this was a favorite author, so I picked this up. Napoleon Bonaparte is a mixed race Australian who is a successful detective. This is a mid series book, set in the late 40s. Bony is asked to investigate the disappearance of a young woman from a train in the middle of the outback. He takes two camels to search for clues and encounters an even deeper mystery. He must use all his skills to survive and identify a murderer. This was interesting, but not gripping. Midway t A bookseller in Seattle told me this was a favorite author, so I picked this up. Napoleon Bonaparte is a mixed race Australian who is a successful detective. This is a mid series book, set in the late 40s. Bony is asked to investigate the disappearance of a young woman from a train in the middle of the outback. He takes two camels to search for clues and encounters an even deeper mystery. He must use all his skills to survive and identify a murderer. This was interesting, but not gripping. Midway through a slew of new characters is introduced, I had to go back later and read that section again. At the end, you find some new info that Bony knew but did not disclose to the reader. I always find that unfair in a mystery. The descriptions of trekking the Nullarbor Plain (so named because it has no trees)were very vivid and the most interesting part of the story.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    My first Upfield mystery, I found the story refreshingly different from other mysteries I've read. Bony is looking for a woman who is missing from a train traveling across the nothingness of Australia's wilderness. He takes two camels across the plain near where she turned up missing which is the area his dad last trapped shortly before his recent death. After many days finding the trap line, he is captured by the aborigines and lowered into an unescapeable cavern with other known convicts, rele My first Upfield mystery, I found the story refreshingly different from other mysteries I've read. Bony is looking for a woman who is missing from a train traveling across the nothingness of Australia's wilderness. He takes two camels across the plain near where she turned up missing which is the area his dad last trapped shortly before his recent death. After many days finding the trap line, he is captured by the aborigines and lowered into an unescapeable cavern with other known convicts, released before their sentences. Who is feeding them, who captured them, and how was it done 200 miles from civilization? How can they return? I am hooked now. A short book that took me longer than usual to read, but worthy of reading more Upfield books.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sue Law

    Once again Upfield tries something different. A woman found not guilty of murder disappears from a train in the middle of the Nullabor not far from Woomera base & Maralinga testing ground. The woman is of interest to the intelligence forces. At around the same time an old dog trapper and prospector who worked in the area dies, and his notebook indicates that aircraft of some kind were flying around the area when the woman disappeared. Back undercover, Bony picks up the trapper's camels and heads Once again Upfield tries something different. A woman found not guilty of murder disappears from a train in the middle of the Nullabor not far from Woomera base & Maralinga testing ground. The woman is of interest to the intelligence forces. At around the same time an old dog trapper and prospector who worked in the area dies, and his notebook indicates that aircraft of some kind were flying around the area when the woman disappeared. Back undercover, Bony picks up the trapper's camels and heads out into the Nullabor to retrace the tracker's route and find where the aircraft was heard.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    It feels funny to listen to a book about Boney, an Aboriginal detective-inspector, written by a White guy and read by a White guy - I suppose we accept men writing female characters, straight women writing gay male characters. Some of the language is uncomfortable, derogatory, a product of its time (1956). Boney is an impressive character, a good sleuth and thoughtful. I can see why the books were popular, the characters and plot are interesting. I may read more of them ...

  14. 5 out of 5

    John

    A woman acquitted of murdering her husband disappears from a train crossing the Nullabor. Bony takes on the seemingly hopeless search for her and finds himself trapped in a cavern underneath the desert. Another great story.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    I've seen references to Upfield's books, but this is the first one I've read. I'm hooked! Well-written, with great settings, complex characters, and a suspenseful story. I'm pleased there are lots more books featuring Bony to enjoy. I've seen references to Upfield's books, but this is the first one I've read. I'm hooked! Well-written, with great settings, complex characters, and a suspenseful story. I'm pleased there are lots more books featuring Bony to enjoy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Diana Petty-stone

    A very well written mystery set in the strange and unforgiving Australian Nullarbor Plains. Interesting characters and good plot. Two quirky camels, a lovable dog, and Detective-Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte who always gets his man.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Gilbert

    If you love and good detective story, Arthur Upfield is a master. This is one of the best, as Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte is asked to find a woman who disappears off of a train in the outback of Austrailia. You can feel the heat of the desert!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rogue Reader

    Boney goes undercover and gets thrown into an underground cave deep in the Nullarbor. Wonderful mythology. Want to pace these books and not devour them all at once.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Not my favorite of the series but still an interesting read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tuesdayschild

    If you’re easily offended by vintage era portrayals of /mind-set towards women, Aborigines, and, criminals then don’t read these books. They have helped me to see, a little more, into the ‘culture’ my Australian parent’s generation (90+yrs old, and, mostly deceased now) grew up in. The description of the Australian landscape and scenery is really well written.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kerrie

    The Woomera Rocket Range, a collaborative effort between a number of International groups including the British and Australia, began immediately after World War II in 1946, with a joint project running until 1960. It is located in north-west South Australia, about 500 km north west of Adelaide. British nuclear tests at Maralinga, a series of seven nuclear tests were conducted within the Woomera area between 1955 and 1963. More recently, the Woomera Immigration Reception and Processing Centre, a The Woomera Rocket Range, a collaborative effort between a number of International groups including the British and Australia, began immediately after World War II in 1946, with a joint project running until 1960. It is located in north-west South Australia, about 500 km north west of Adelaide. British nuclear tests at Maralinga, a series of seven nuclear tests were conducted within the Woomera area between 1955 and 1963. More recently, the Woomera Immigration Reception and Processing Centre, a detention centre, opened nearby in 1999 and operated until 2003. The focus in the opening pages of the story is a woman, recently acquitted of murder, who has disappeared without trace from the East-West railway travelling from Adelaide to Western Australia. There is some indication that she may have connections with international espionage and Bony is sent out on an undercover mission to see if he can locate her. There are various Aboriginal legends associated with the Australian outback but here Upfield tells one about a monster, maybe a version of the Rainbow Snake, supposedly occupying the underground limestone caverns of the Nullarbor Plain which the train line traverses. This has the effect of both deterring aboriginal trackers from looking too closely for the missing woman, and also provides an explanation of any strange noises heard at night. Bony of course is the "man of two tribes", being a half-caste aborigine, but his Queensland tribe has little in common with the Aboriginal people living on the Nullarbor, apart from the markings on his body that show he is a warrior of some note. At the same time he is a very articulate person, highly qualified with a university degree, and a reputation for never failing to successfully conclude a case. An interesting story but I did feel that it stretched the bounds of credibility. Basing the story around the Nullarbor Plain and Woomera does show how in touch with current events Upfield was. At the time of publication 1956, 8 years before his death, he was 66 years old and there would be another 8 Bony novels.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stefani Akins

    As with most of the Australian literature in my collection, I stumbled across Arthur W. Upfield and his exceptional detective inspector by accident. Although DI Bonaparte resides on the eastern coast of the great continent, Upfield routinely sends him on missions to the west to solve cases no other cop could solve. This time, the reader gets to cross the Nullarbor not once, but twice whilst on the heels of a missing woman. 214 pages flown by like the shadows of the clouds on the desert. All that As with most of the Australian literature in my collection, I stumbled across Arthur W. Upfield and his exceptional detective inspector by accident. Although DI Bonaparte resides on the eastern coast of the great continent, Upfield routinely sends him on missions to the west to solve cases no other cop could solve. This time, the reader gets to cross the Nullarbor not once, but twice whilst on the heels of a missing woman. 214 pages flown by like the shadows of the clouds on the desert. All that is left to decide now is which adventure to delve into next.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Helen Mccarthy

    A Detector-Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte - Bony mystery - set in the "outback" of Australia. Bony is half white and half Aborigine and brings many special talents, especially from his Aborigine background - to the cases - usually murder - he works on. He has unusual methods of detecting and drives his superiors crazy, but he always gets his man. Author Arthur Upfield fills the story with many interesting details about the Australian environment and the independent individuals and families who inh A Detector-Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte - Bony mystery - set in the "outback" of Australia. Bony is half white and half Aborigine and brings many special talents, especially from his Aborigine background - to the cases - usually murder - he works on. He has unusual methods of detecting and drives his superiors crazy, but he always gets his man. Author Arthur Upfield fills the story with many interesting details about the Australian environment and the independent individuals and families who inhabit it. Always interesting and fun.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lemar

    This may be my favorite of the series so far. Upfield is an excellent writer, subtley enriching his mysteries with profound insights into human motivation. At its best mysteries uncover human truths during the investigation of what goes wrong in a psyche that commits such a crime. This series is rich in Australian lore and anthropological learning while maintaining its attraction of having a unique main character you always root for and a rip roaring story line.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    Many years ago, Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte was introduced to me in the French editions which I loved. I promptly read the original versions when I was able to and now I am enjoying the audiobooks and discovering the odd unknown title. Incredible landscapes, intriguing storylines, colourful characters. One of my favourite crime series.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Doc

    Every entry in this series has been entertaining and I feel like a learn something every time about the Australian outback, though I suspect many of the attitudes and lingo have dated. The protagonist, the half-caste detective inspector Bonaparte exudes charisma-plus and the prose is several levels above merely serviceable, attaining occasionally flashes of literary lustre.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    I found this book at Powells bookstore in Portland and took a chance. Written in 1956 it creates an interesting window into the culture and ideas of the day in Australia. It is well written and contains both adventure and mystery. I will most likely read a few more when wanting something like. Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte is an honorable and likeable character.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    We already know Detective Inspector Bonaparte is half white and half aborigine, but that isn't what this title refers to. The seach for a missing woman opens up a very surprising plot set in an Australian wasteland. Again Upfield's creation of the Australian outback is awe-inspiring. We already know Detective Inspector Bonaparte is half white and half aborigine, but that isn't what this title refers to. The seach for a missing woman opens up a very surprising plot set in an Australian wasteland. Again Upfield's creation of the Australian outback is awe-inspiring.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Karen Smith

    This novel includes some excellent descriptions of walking across the Nullarbor Plain as the mystery unfolds. I have just read this one again. I particularly this time enjoyed the relationship between Bony and the two camels and the dog.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jim Mohler

    Picked this audio book up while driving in the outback of Australia. It's a pretty good mystery and the vastness of the outback he describes unfolded mile after mile as we drove on. Didn't get to finish it until we got back to the states. Picked this audio book up while driving in the outback of Australia. It's a pretty good mystery and the vastness of the outback he describes unfolded mile after mile as we drove on. Didn't get to finish it until we got back to the states.

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