The Mystery Of The Venus Island Fetish by Dido Butterworth & Tim Flannery (Editor)
Our Review: In 2010 Tim Flannery was appointed as Australia’s climate commissioner. In the Guardian newspaper he says “Along with my fellow commissioners, I wrote reports and travelled the country, meeting ordinary citizens and answering their questions about climate science. Yet doing our jobs resulted in threats, abuse and real danger. I knew I had to continue the work but, as things got nastier, what I really needed was a refuge.”
From this experience comes his first fictional novel, written under the pseudonym of Dido Butterworth, The Venus Island Fetish, a delightful foray into the weird and wonderful world of 1930’s museums. Our unlikely hero Archibald Meek has just returned from a five-year study of the Venus Island, a mythical group of islands set somewhere I imagined in the South Pacific. He left a boy and came back a man, fully initiated into island life and its rites of passage. Bringing back with him all manner of island culture from shields, to tools, rocks, plants and shells, he is also hopeful that his love Beatrice, a registrar in the anthropology department, has received his island ‘love token’- an unusual piece of skin.
However Archie comes back to a very different museum than he left. For starters, museum staff are dying in unusual circumstances, the Director is acting very oddly and the ceremonial mask acquired much earlier, The Venus Island Fetish, which is decorated by human skulls appears altered. Feeling a bit paranoid, nevertheless Archie becomes increasingly convinced there are four new skulls – possibly those of the dead museum staff.
There’s a wonderfully quirky array of characters wandering through this delightful period mystery that will not only give you an insight into 1930’s Sydney, but also win you over with it’s warmth and humour. A wonderful read.
Review by Nicole Maher @ Great Escape Books
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