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Dust Off the Bones

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The author of the acclaimed Only Killers and Thieves returns to turn-of-the-century Australia in this powerful sequel that follows the story of brothers Tommy and Billy McBride, the widow of their family’s killer, Katherine Sullivan, and the sadistic Native Police officer Edmund Noone  In 1890, estranged brothers Tommy and Billy McBride are living far apart in Queensland, e The author of the acclaimed Only Killers and Thieves returns to turn-of-the-century Australia in this powerful sequel that follows the story of brothers Tommy and Billy McBride, the widow of their family’s killer, Katherine Sullivan, and the sadistic Native Police officer Edmund Noone  In 1890, estranged brothers Tommy and Billy McBride are living far apart in Queensland, each dealing with the trauma that destroyed their family in different ways. Now 21, Billy bottles his guilt and justifies his past crimes while attempting to revive his father’s former cattle run and navigate his feelings for the young widow Katherine Sullivan. Katherine, meanwhile, cherishes her newfound independence but is struggling to establish herself as head of the vast Broken Ridge cattle empire her corrupt late husband mercilessly built. But even in the outback, the past cannot stay buried forever. When a judicial inquest is ordered into the McBride family murders and the subsequent reprisal slaughter of the Kurrong people, both Billy and Police Inspector Edmund Noone – the man who led the massacre – are called to testify. The inquest forces Billy to relive events he has long refused to face. He desperately needs to find his brother, Tommy, who for years has been surviving in the wilderness, attempting to move on with his life. But Billy is not the only one looking for Tommy. Now the ruthless Noone is determined to find the young man as well, and silence both brothers for good. An enthralling, propulsive adventure that builds in suspense, told in gorgeous prose and steeped in history and atmosphere, Dust Off the Bones raises timeless issues of injustice, honor, morality, systemic racism, and the abuse of power. With an unflinching eye, Paul Howarth examines the legacy of violence and the brutal realities of life in a world remarkably familiar to our own.


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The author of the acclaimed Only Killers and Thieves returns to turn-of-the-century Australia in this powerful sequel that follows the story of brothers Tommy and Billy McBride, the widow of their family’s killer, Katherine Sullivan, and the sadistic Native Police officer Edmund Noone  In 1890, estranged brothers Tommy and Billy McBride are living far apart in Queensland, e The author of the acclaimed Only Killers and Thieves returns to turn-of-the-century Australia in this powerful sequel that follows the story of brothers Tommy and Billy McBride, the widow of their family’s killer, Katherine Sullivan, and the sadistic Native Police officer Edmund Noone  In 1890, estranged brothers Tommy and Billy McBride are living far apart in Queensland, each dealing with the trauma that destroyed their family in different ways. Now 21, Billy bottles his guilt and justifies his past crimes while attempting to revive his father’s former cattle run and navigate his feelings for the young widow Katherine Sullivan. Katherine, meanwhile, cherishes her newfound independence but is struggling to establish herself as head of the vast Broken Ridge cattle empire her corrupt late husband mercilessly built. But even in the outback, the past cannot stay buried forever. When a judicial inquest is ordered into the McBride family murders and the subsequent reprisal slaughter of the Kurrong people, both Billy and Police Inspector Edmund Noone – the man who led the massacre – are called to testify. The inquest forces Billy to relive events he has long refused to face. He desperately needs to find his brother, Tommy, who for years has been surviving in the wilderness, attempting to move on with his life. But Billy is not the only one looking for Tommy. Now the ruthless Noone is determined to find the young man as well, and silence both brothers for good. An enthralling, propulsive adventure that builds in suspense, told in gorgeous prose and steeped in history and atmosphere, Dust Off the Bones raises timeless issues of injustice, honor, morality, systemic racism, and the abuse of power. With an unflinching eye, Paul Howarth examines the legacy of violence and the brutal realities of life in a world remarkably familiar to our own.

30 review for Dust Off the Bones

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    All across this vast country they were burning, as they had for a hundred years, all lit by men like Noone. So many dead in the ashes, thousands of them, scattered over the colonies, never to be found, the wind tossing their remains like a plaything, and teasing the dust off their bones. -------------------------------------- “…memories can be slippery as fish, in my experience. Once you have them out of the water, it pays to get them good and clubbed.” In 2018, Paul Howarth’s first publish All across this vast country they were burning, as they had for a hundred years, all lit by men like Noone. So many dead in the ashes, thousands of them, scattered over the colonies, never to be found, the wind tossing their remains like a plaything, and teasing the dust off their bones. -------------------------------------- “…memories can be slippery as fish, in my experience. Once you have them out of the water, it pays to get them good and clubbed.” In 2018, Paul Howarth’s first published novel, Only Killers and Thieves introduced much of the world to a dark chapter in Australian history. Queensland in the 1880s, Billy and Tommy McBride’s parents are murdered. A former employee, an aboriginal, is blamed. A posse is organized to hunt down the accused and any with him. It is led by Edmund Noone, an officer of the Queensland Native Police, who is in the business of eradicating native people, crime or no crime. Billy and Tommy are dragged along for what turns out to be a massacre, soiling their lives, and polluting their souls. Paul Howarth - image from HarperCollins.com - Photo by Sarah Howarth In Howarth’s compelling sequel, Dust Off The Bones, we follow the McBride boys, adults in 1890, on diverging paths, as they cope with the aftermath of what had happened. Tommy McBride is 19, bigger now, brawny even, working as a stockman, far from his ravaged home. His conscience, PTSD, and fear of Noone bedeviling him, Tommy tries to lay low. Noone had told the McBride brothers that they were never to see each other again, or he would kill them. Tommy is abiding by that order, living his life. But his recurring nightmares, with considerable thrashings-about, freak out the men he works with. The foreman is a bully straight from the build-a-creep store, eager to issue unfulfillable commands, and unnaturally excited to inflict punishments. One thing leads to another, and Tommy and his aboriginal friend, Arthur, are wanted men, on the run. Billy, 21, has married the girl of his dreams and gained considerable property and responsibility in the bargain. But it is not the paradise he expected. When we see him again, some years later, he is still troubled by the men who are working for the farm, for his wife, for him, who show him no respect. He indulges in public displays of prosperity, as the lands that he married into have been productive. But he calms his conscience—or is it his fear of being found out?—with excessive supplies of alcohol. Where Tommy has grown big, and strong, Billy has grown large and soft. Never far from the thoughts of either is Edmund Noone, the terrifying leader of that fateful expedition. He is now established as local police chief in Southport, a coastal suburb of Brisbane. Along with the story of the McBride brothers, Dust Off the Bones focuses on how state-sanctioned authorities provided legal support to a national campaign of genocide. Without accountability, no wrongs will be punished, and without the threat of punishment, those wrongs will persist. It also shines a light on the rights of women in the early 20th century. These elements are highlighted in chapters featuring Henry Wells and Katherine Sullivan (now McBride). The story is told primarily through the alternating POVs of Billy and Tommy, with Wells and Katherine adding several chapters each. I’m British-Australian, but was largely ignorant about Australia’s settlement history and the role Britain played, so was reading about the frontier period for my own interest at first, and became intrigued by this alternative Wild West that played out against the stunning Australian landscape but which remains comparatively unknown, both at home and overseas, and is still relatively under-explored in fiction or film. I was also seeing a lot of relevance in that history to the world today, not just in Australia but in the USA and Europe too. Then as I began to try to write about the period I came across information about the infamous Queensland Native Police—and that was the spark that really set this novel in motion. - from the More2Read interviewWells is an attorney. It is through his eyes that we see the racism inherent in the Aussie legal system of the time. It will feel quite familiar to many who track prosecutions of civilian-killing police here in the states over a century later. Legal atrocities compound the physical atrocities, in which monsters with state authority carry out genocide, and woe to any who oppose them. When a witness to the massacre, to which the McBrides were a party, files a report, Wells sees his chance to bring the big man down. It is this attempt that induces much of the action that follows. Katherine Sullivan, the young widow of an unspeakable husband, remains the owner of a considerable property, and of Billy McBride’s heart. After fending off an attempt by her father to all but sell her to yet another unspeakable man, she marries Billy, instead. But it is not a marriage made in heaven. Her passion for Billy softens with the years, along with Billy’s frame. But she still must contend with a world run by men, a world in which women do not have the full rights to even their own property. We make stops at several points in time. The first, a brief one, is in 1885, when Rev Francis Bean sees something he cannot forget. When he informs the local magistrate, he is threatened with certain death at the hands of Noone, should he file an official report. The main action takes place in 1890 and 1897, showing how the brothers have diverged, and then in 1906 when everything comes to a head. There is a fair amount of blood spilled. A lot of it is done off camera, thankfully. But the tension is palpable as danger approaches and we wonder with every rapidly turned page whether, in this instance, evil will triumph. Gripes – I had hoped that the towering figure of Edmund Noone would be given a bit more depth in this sequel, but he remains a pure black hat (ironically). Added to the black-hat team is his criminally able and amoral assistant, a one-dimensional crooked judge, and the creep Tommy encounters. They function well as manifestations of bigotry, corruption, and cruelty, not so well as rounded characters. There are some good people in the book as well, lest one think it is all darkness. Billy and Tommy are interesting characters, and tracing how they cope with the challenges they face, or fail to, makes for an engaging read. The history depicted here is horrific, albeit not singular in the world. For most of us it is news. There are good guys to cheer for, and baddies to boo. You will learn something, and have your blood pressure raised. It is a sad thing that Howarth’s tales are based on actual Australian history, but a good thing that he has brought that dark time into the light for so many readers. Dust off your favorite reading chair and settle your bones in for spell. Dust Off The Bones is a wonderful book. Henry collected his bags, started for the door, then paused with his back to the two men. He wanted to say something, to have the last word. Ask the magistrate how he lived with himself, how he was able to sleep at night. There was no point. Nothing he could do or say would change anything, not in a town like this. They all lived with themselves quite comfortably here. They all managed to sleep just fine. Review posted – June 5, 2021 Publication date – June 8, 2021 =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal, Twitter, and GR pages Interview -----More2Read - Interview with Paul Howarth On Writing by Lou Pendergrast – this was done re Only Killers and Thieves, but still applies here. My review of Only Killers and Thieves Items of Interest -----Outback to the future - on how he became a writer -----Nietzsche: On the Genealogy of Morality - it is open on Noone’s desk in chapter 17 -----Wayback Machine – article on Josef Breuer - noted in chapter 17 -----An interesting wiki on the Australian Native Police

  2. 4 out of 5

    Beata

    The sequel to one of the best books I read last year which. Several years after drifting apart, brothers Tommy and Billy McBride are still haunted by the past tragic events and have to bear the consequences of their decisions. They are not the only ones who are unable to forget what they witnessed. Atrocities by so-called Native Police, the main theme of both books, cannot be left uncovered, however, perpetrators who went unpunished are powerful. Edmund Noone hold a high position in the society a The sequel to one of the best books I read last year which. Several years after drifting apart, brothers Tommy and Billy McBride are still haunted by the past tragic events and have to bear the consequences of their decisions. They are not the only ones who are unable to forget what they witnessed. Atrocities by so-called Native Police, the main theme of both books, cannot be left uncovered, however, perpetrators who went unpunished are powerful. Edmund Noone hold a high position in the society and is ready to apply any measures to prevent his fall. Character development is a big positive regarding this book together with terrific descriptions of living conditions and landscape of Australia at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. I think this book can be read as a standalone but being engaged in the story will make you want to read Only Killers and Thieves which in my opinion is more powerful. *Many thanks to Paul Howarth, Pushkin Press, and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a powerful, disturbing book inspired by history and what is subsequently covered up and forgotten. It is a well-researched, beautifully written story about some ugly, heart-wrenching events. It focuses on the aftermath of the McBride family's slaughter, leading to the horrific massacre of the Kurrong tribe in the northern Queensland wilderness. This story was featured in the previous book 'Only Killers and Thieves. It spans the time from 1885 to 1906 and later. I tried to speed through ' This is a powerful, disturbing book inspired by history and what is subsequently covered up and forgotten. It is a well-researched, beautifully written story about some ugly, heart-wrenching events. It focuses on the aftermath of the McBride family's slaughter, leading to the horrific massacre of the Kurrong tribe in the northern Queensland wilderness. This story was featured in the previous book 'Only Killers and Thieves. It spans the time from 1885 to 1906 and later. I tried to speed through 'Dust off the Bones' to learn its outcome, but some parts were so shocking I found it necessary to take breaks from my reading. The book covers racism, intolerance, power and prestige, morality, terror, violence, the miscarriage of justice, and the coverup of historical events. Two McBride brothers survived the murder of their family as they were away from the homestead at the time. Their ages were 14 and 16, and later they were present at the massacre of the Kurrong Aboriginal tribe. Billy McBride has been successful, marrying Katherine Sullivan, the wealthy widow of her late husband's cattle estate. He has also been working to restore and expand the old family ranch. However, he accepts no blame for past events and seems indifferent to what occurred. The younger brother, Tommy, suffers from anxiety attacks and nightmares. He had led a hard life for years, wandering as a drover through the parched scrublands and desert regions of Queensland and the Northern Territories. The author vividly evoked the atmospheric descriptions of the landscape. He finally settles down in the lush farmland of Victoria with his Aboriginal friend, Arthur. The brothers have been warned and threatened to have no contact again and meet only briefly 21 years later. Not far in the background, always present, is the once head of a Native Police unit, Noone. He is now commissioner of police, a powerful and prestigious position. He lurks like an evil spirit or demon and now is wealthy, admired but feared by many. This is an intense, character-driven novel, which builds up slowly to a terror-filled, propulsive, and suspenseful tale of murder and mayhem. There is a judicial inquiry into the McBride murders and the subsequent slaughter of the Kurrong people in retaliation. Noone's lies are accepted in court, with Billy McBride's confirmation upholding Noone's testimony. This results in a rift in Billy's marriage, as Karen suspects he is not telling the truth. The lawyer who brought the case to court has his reputation, career, and, finally, his life destroyed. Billy begins to feel guilty and needs to set the matters straight, finally telling the truth about the massacre. After a long search, he reunites with Tommy, but the evil Noone had hired investigators to find Tommy with plans to silence both of them. Highly recommended. This works as a standalone, but I suggest reading 'Only Killers and Thieves' first to get a stronger picture of the events and personalities that lead up to the aftermath described in this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    This book is a sequel to “Only Killers and Thieves”. It can be read as a standalone, but the first book is better and didn’t really require a sequel. I thought it ended beautifully and I suggest starting with that book. The brothers Tommy and Billy, who were orphaned at the beginning of the prior book, are now estranged adults and each must come to terms with their guilt for the events in their past. This isn’t as compelling as the picture of Australia’s history of institutional racism that was This book is a sequel to “Only Killers and Thieves”. It can be read as a standalone, but the first book is better and didn’t really require a sequel. I thought it ended beautifully and I suggest starting with that book. The brothers Tommy and Billy, who were orphaned at the beginning of the prior book, are now estranged adults and each must come to terms with their guilt for the events in their past. This isn’t as compelling as the picture of Australia’s history of institutional racism that was presented in the first book. I also think that making the villain a crazy sadist takes away from the fact that the brutal treatment of Aborigines was commonplace and banal. The author writes very well and I I would like to read more by him, provided that he moves on to new characters.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Shindler

    In “Dust off the Bones,” Paul Haworth deepens the story of Billy and Tommy McBride, first introduced in his debut novel, “ Only Killers and Thieves.” Spanning a period of over thirty years, the novel examines the consequences of racial violence on a personal and societal level. As teenagers in 1885, Billy and his younger brother Tommy participated in the slaughter of an indigenous native tribe in the scrublands of Northern Queensland. The massacre went unpunished. The leader of the attack, Native In “Dust off the Bones,” Paul Haworth deepens the story of Billy and Tommy McBride, first introduced in his debut novel, “ Only Killers and Thieves.” Spanning a period of over thirty years, the novel examines the consequences of racial violence on a personal and societal level. As teenagers in 1885, Billy and his younger brother Tommy participated in the slaughter of an indigenous native tribe in the scrublands of Northern Queensland. The massacre went unpunished. The leader of the attack, Native Police inspector Noone, coerced the boys into perjury and warned them never to contact each other again.The brothers’ reaction to these horrors drives their lives onto different paths and propels the plot forward. Billy, the more more xenophobic of the brothers, has remained in the scrublands and become a successful rancher, marrying Katherine, a wealthy widow.He accepts no responsibility for his brutal past and adopts an attitude of bravado and bluster, deflecting his shortcomings onto other people and events.Tommy has been consumed by guilt and uncertainty as he contemplates his past actions.He spends his life wandering from place to place, often accompanied by an Aboriginal farmhand, Arthur.Beset with anxiety, Tommy has difficulty quieting his inner self and is unable to form lasting relationships. Years later, an inquiry into the aboriginal massacre is held.The judicial proceedings again bring Inspector Noone into the orbit of the brothers. He has become a wealthy successful politician with a vested interest in affirming the original verdict and eliminating any remaining witnesses. The intersection of these events creates a jarring picture of the corrupt legal institutions and violence that enabled the racist devastation during this historical period.The development of the characters against this backdrop brings out the personal devastation arising from life in this harsh, stratified society where violence is routinely condoned and entitlement insidiously affects all social interactions. Billy copes with his trauma through denial, pursuing a path of ostentation and excess.He devolves into a physically and morally diminished person.Tommy acknowledges his trauma and becomes physically stronger but is still unable to pull the strands of his life together.Billy’s wife, Katherine, and Tommy’s friend,Arthur, serve as moral counterbalances for the brothers as their lives play out. These elements fuse together into a novel depicting a rugged setting that is laced with questions about morality.It can be read as a historical adventure but also has larger lingering themes focused on racism, injustice, betrayal and love.There are glimpses of hope even as a society struggles to overcome its skewed foundational underpinnings.The journey through this work is informative and thought provoking.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Only Killers and Thieves was one of the best books I read last year. I was both excited and apprehensive about this sequel because sometimes when the first book is so, so good, the second one doesn't reach the same heights. No worries here. This one is every bit as good as the first. It returns us to the lives of Billy and Tommy McBride and what comes after the killing of their parents and sister and the repercussions of those murders. While you could read this as a standalone, I would definitel Only Killers and Thieves was one of the best books I read last year. I was both excited and apprehensive about this sequel because sometimes when the first book is so, so good, the second one doesn't reach the same heights. No worries here. This one is every bit as good as the first. It returns us to the lives of Billy and Tommy McBride and what comes after the killing of their parents and sister and the repercussions of those murders. While you could read this as a standalone, I would definitely recommend you read Killers first. You'll miss a lot of references to that first book if you don't. And you'd also be letting yourself out of a great experience.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    I have a few rules about reading. If a book doesn’t hook you within 50 pages, stop reading it. Dog earring and writing in a book is okay, but only if it’s yours. And, if I finish a book before going to bed, I have to immediately start a new one. While I might bend on the first of these rules, books like Paul Howarth’s Dust Off the Bones remind me why I made the third rule in the first place. The ending of this book had my pulse pounding so hard that I needed the start of a new book to wind mysel I have a few rules about reading. If a book doesn’t hook you within 50 pages, stop reading it. Dog earring and writing in a book is okay, but only if it’s yours. And, if I finish a book before going to bed, I have to immediately start a new one. While I might bend on the first of these rules, books like Paul Howarth’s Dust Off the Bones remind me why I made the third rule in the first place. The ending of this book had my pulse pounding so hard that I needed the start of a new book to wind myself back down so that I could sleep. Howarth takes us into the outback of Australia, before and after the turn of the twentieth century, to give us a harrowing story about violence, racism, guilt, and the ties that bind... Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Evi

    Just as wonderful as the first book. Kept me reading late into the night. When it's hot and sticky outside, what better than to read a book about hot, dry Australia .. winner, winner. Just as wonderful as the first book. Kept me reading late into the night. When it's hot and sticky outside, what better than to read a book about hot, dry Australia .. winner, winner.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    I was so hopeful to have another transportive experience with this follow-up to Only Killers and Thieves. Unfortunately the plot was just not compelling enough, nor the writing strong enough this time, to compensate for the ugly and gratuitous crass language and the graphic violence. Also, I did not enjoy the detailed intimacy between the homosexual characters. In 1890 there’s no way a lawyer would come out to his parents. That was not a believable occurance. I’m hopeful that Howarth’s next unde I was so hopeful to have another transportive experience with this follow-up to Only Killers and Thieves. Unfortunately the plot was just not compelling enough, nor the writing strong enough this time, to compensate for the ugly and gratuitous crass language and the graphic violence. Also, I did not enjoy the detailed intimacy between the homosexual characters. In 1890 there’s no way a lawyer would come out to his parents. That was not a believable occurance. I’m hopeful that Howarth’s next undertaking will show off his talent and not be hidden behind contemporary linguistic bravado. Thank you to Harper Collins for the advance copy!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    One of the best books of the year. Note that this is a sequel to Only Killers and Thieves (2018), which you should read before this book. This book follows brothers Billy and Tommy McBride, who were forced into estrangement after their unwitting and complicated involvement in crimes against an Aboriginal community in the 1880s, when the boys were young teenagers. Now grown, Billy has become a wealthy landowner and seemingly has moved on from the tragedies of his youth. Tommy has changed his name, One of the best books of the year. Note that this is a sequel to Only Killers and Thieves (2018), which you should read before this book. This book follows brothers Billy and Tommy McBride, who were forced into estrangement after their unwitting and complicated involvement in crimes against an Aboriginal community in the 1880s, when the boys were young teenagers. Now grown, Billy has become a wealthy landowner and seemingly has moved on from the tragedies of his youth. Tommy has changed his name, has rarely settled in one place, and has struggled all his life to come to terms with the events that are described in book 1. Now almost 20 years later, a two-bit lawyer is hired to prosecute Noone, the brutal Native Police Inspector who ordered the killings. Noone, now a powerful--and still cruel-man who is able to control a wide network of men, sets out murder all witnesses to his earlier offenses. The McBride brothers are principal targets. As in the first book, Howarth pulls no punches: there are no fairy tales in real life, and cold, calculating men don't soften with old age. Billy, Tommy, Noone, and others are vividly drawn, evoke strong and true emotions. The pace and tension are so tightly constructed it's almost impossible to put the book (or in my case, audiobook) down. Australia itself--the land, the people--plays a central role. This duology should be on your must-read list. And please, please, avoid any spoilery reviews or summaries. The unabridged audiobook (Harper Audio; 11 hr, 50 min) was brilliantly read by David Linski, who also performed book 1. Linski portrays the characters perfectly and matches his tempo and volume with Howarth's style. In print (which was my husband’s choice) or in audio, this book will be on many best-of 2021 list. Don’t miss out.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    4.5 stars. Dust Off the Bones by Paul Howarth is a chilling novel set in the isolated Australian outback. Billy and Tommy McBride lost their family and then so much more after they participated in the massacre of the Kurrong people close to their home.  Native Police Officer Edward Noone has a long, dark history of murdering the Aboriginal people and he threatens the then teenagers to keep quiet about what happened. Fast forward several years and Billy is married to their widowed neighbor Katherin 4.5 stars. Dust Off the Bones by Paul Howarth is a chilling novel set in the isolated Australian outback. Billy and Tommy McBride lost their family and then so much more after they participated in the massacre of the Kurrong people close to their home.  Native Police Officer Edward Noone has a long, dark history of murdering the Aboriginal people and he threatens the then teenagers to keep quiet about what happened. Fast forward several years and Billy is married to their widowed neighbor Katherine Sinclair who owns a prosperous cattle station. Tommy tries to outrun his memories by venturing far from home with his Aboriginal friend Arthur. Noone is accountable to no one until eager young solicitor Henry Wells attempts to right the terrible wrong. Billy takes over running Katherine’s cattle station and they prosper despite the harsh weather and drought. Billy is hard man who drinks too much and has high expectations for his sons. Katherine loves him enough to put up with his flaws but there are limits to her patience. Billy proclaims his innocence throughout the sham trial, but will his marriage survive the shocking revelations? Tommy is haunted by what they did to the Kurrong. But he is more frightened of what Noone will do to him so he runs as far from Billy as he can. Arthur is a good friend to Tommy but there is only so much he is willing to do for his friend. Tommy manages to keep his memories and fear at bay but when pushed to his limit, will he finally face up to his past? Dust Off the Bones is a harrowing novel that shines a light on the horrific history of Australian treatment of the Aboriginal people. The setting paints a vivid portrait of the desolation and harshness of the scrublands and the vast countryside. The storyline does not pull any punches when it comes to police and legal corruption of the time period. The various characters are extremely well-drawn with realistic foibles and unexpected strengths. With unanticipated twists and clever turns, Paul Howarth brings this riveting novel to a surprising, yet completely satisfying, conclusion.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mairi

    If film is an art form then Westerns, in my opinion, are it’s peak. However I’ve never felt they are captured quite so well on the page. There is something about the central conceit of land being greater than man, and man at the mercy of the environment which feels as though it can be captured best by seeing and feeling it to know it, rather than reading. The western novel however still has something to tell us even if most of our memories of the genre are from unreconstructed movies based on ti If film is an art form then Westerns, in my opinion, are it’s peak. However I’ve never felt they are captured quite so well on the page. There is something about the central conceit of land being greater than man, and man at the mercy of the environment which feels as though it can be captured best by seeing and feeling it to know it, rather than reading. The western novel however still has something to tell us even if most of our memories of the genre are from unreconstructed movies based on tired thinking which has not stood the test of either time or compassion. It no longer feels modern to update a genre by superficially putting a woman in what we used to assume is a man’s role. Howarth does try to go further in Dust off the Bones, released in August. This Australian Western tries to dig through the past and perceive it through new eyes creating a more up-to-date western. It is the privilege of those who have not lived through a history to be able to see it through different eyes, even if we are often still cataracted by our own unconscious biases. The inciting incident of Dust off the Bones is a massacre by the Native Police. While the characters are made up the Native Police really did exist, and they really were responsible for what could without exaggeration be called the attempted genocide of the aboriginal people’s of Australia. No single member of the Native Police was ever found guilty of these heinous crimes, despite widespread knowledge of them and some attempts at inquests. Dust off the Bones follows Billy and Tommy McBride, two men who witnessed a massacre when they were teenagers, which was started by the Native Police in retaliation for the killing of their parents apparently by an aboriginal person. Alongside the brothers there are a host of other characters, the psychopathic Noone, who is a bete noire for literally 80% of people whose paths he’s crossed and the other 20%… well, he’ll probably kill them. He appears to have joined the Native Police merely as a means to channel his own blood lust while also hiding behind a uniform which means he can demand respect, and a certain amount of fealty for the white folks he protects...read more here https://true-crime-fiction.com/2021/0...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Thank you for the ARC of this book. I hadn't read the author's previous book and while this was noted as a sequel, I had no problems following the story line beginning with this title. Having said that, I enjoyed this book very much and now look forward to read Only Killers and Thieves. The book takes place in the harsh backdrop of outback Australia at the turn of the 20th century. Two estranged brothers living very separate lives - each trying to come to terms with tragic events in their family' Thank you for the ARC of this book. I hadn't read the author's previous book and while this was noted as a sequel, I had no problems following the story line beginning with this title. Having said that, I enjoyed this book very much and now look forward to read Only Killers and Thieves. The book takes place in the harsh backdrop of outback Australia at the turn of the 20th century. Two estranged brothers living very separate lives - each trying to come to terms with tragic events in their family's past. But as the blurb ominously states "the past cannot stay buried forever". When an official inquest brings things to the surface, the story builds in tension and the stakes are high. I enjoyed this book on a few different levels - the author doesn't gloss over brutal events and/or situations. At the same time he's created fully realized characters that pull you in and don't let go. The book also provides insight into Australian history. Definitely recommended!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kim McGee

    The story picks up after ONLY KILLERS AND THIEVES and takes us back to the Australian Outback in the late 1800's. Brothers McBride are still reeling from the violence in their past and the loss of their family years before. They have been witness to atrocities against the native population which they are powerless to correct. Life in the Outback is hard, times are violent and if you keep your head down if you don't want to be hunted yourself. One brother runs from the law after an accident and t The story picks up after ONLY KILLERS AND THIEVES and takes us back to the Australian Outback in the late 1800's. Brothers McBride are still reeling from the violence in their past and the loss of their family years before. They have been witness to atrocities against the native population which they are powerless to correct. Life in the Outback is hard, times are violent and if you keep your head down if you don't want to be hunted yourself. One brother runs from the law after an accident and the other stays to start up life again on their dilapidated homestead after falling in love with his boss's widow. Neither of them can forget or forgive themselves for what happened and the man responsible. Because of this they will be on the run or looking over their shoulder forever. For fans of classic westerns - regardless if they are the American West or Australian Outback. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Judi

    I received a copy of Dust Off the Bones from a Goodreads giveaway. I don’t enter many giveaways, but I had loved Howarth’s previous book, Only Killers and Thieves. This sequel is another stunning novel. You can read it by itself, but I would encourage people to read both books. Dust Off the Bones takes you back to the brutal frontier of 19th century Australia and shows the effect of the savagery and racial injustice the two young brothers were forced to experience in the first book. And, of cour I received a copy of Dust Off the Bones from a Goodreads giveaway. I don’t enter many giveaways, but I had loved Howarth’s previous book, Only Killers and Thieves. This sequel is another stunning novel. You can read it by itself, but I would encourage people to read both books. Dust Off the Bones takes you back to the brutal frontier of 19th century Australia and shows the effect of the savagery and racial injustice the two young brothers were forced to experience in the first book. And, of course, the evil and vicious Inspector Noone returns to threaten any surviving witnesses who saw his cruel treatment of the native population. This is a well written, fascinating look at racial injustice and its aftermath that parallels experiences in other societies.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    A sequel to the author’s first book, Only Killers and Thieves. This guy can write! Frontier Australia, which resembles the Wild West of U.S. history, comes alive in these books about the McBride brothers. Billy and Tommy were young teens in the first book, when they suffered the tragic death of their family. This follow-up tells their story years later and shows how those few days in their childhood completely changed their lives. The most evil villain I have ever encountered shows up on these p A sequel to the author’s first book, Only Killers and Thieves. This guy can write! Frontier Australia, which resembles the Wild West of U.S. history, comes alive in these books about the McBride brothers. Billy and Tommy were young teens in the first book, when they suffered the tragic death of their family. This follow-up tells their story years later and shows how those few days in their childhood completely changed their lives. The most evil villain I have ever encountered shows up on these pages. You’ll know him when you read him. You will also learn about the Native Police, responsible for the deaths of many Aboriginals in the late 1800s and early 1900s. A sorrowful piece of Australia’s real history woven into an excellent work of fiction.

  17. 5 out of 5

    VL

    I loved Only Killers and Thieves and was only too happy to learn that Howarth was returning to that world. Technically, Dust Off the Bones is a sequel but I do think you could read it as a standalone - throughout the book it explains what happened in Only Killers. Billy and Tommy McBride were drawn into a violent world at a young age and over the course of Dust, both are trying to deal with the trauma. Billy likes to pretend it never happened while Tommy has nightmares he can't escape. I loved O I loved Only Killers and Thieves and was only too happy to learn that Howarth was returning to that world. Technically, Dust Off the Bones is a sequel but I do think you could read it as a standalone - throughout the book it explains what happened in Only Killers. Billy and Tommy McBride were drawn into a violent world at a young age and over the course of Dust, both are trying to deal with the trauma. Billy likes to pretend it never happened while Tommy has nightmares he can't escape. I loved Only Killers when I read it and this was no different. I picked it up intending to read a few chapters and instead flew through it. Highly recommend.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    An equally brutal but very well written sequel to last year's Only Killers and Thieves. The Australian frontier was an unforgiving place, and frontier justice, well, often just wasn't. Dust off the Bones continues the story of how Billy and Tommy McBride separately deal with the guilt of their part in a massacre of indigenous people, led by a supposed "lawman." I found this sometimes difficult to read, but always compelling. Much gratitude to NetGalley and Harper for the opportunity to read the An equally brutal but very well written sequel to last year's Only Killers and Thieves. The Australian frontier was an unforgiving place, and frontier justice, well, often just wasn't. Dust off the Bones continues the story of how Billy and Tommy McBride separately deal with the guilt of their part in a massacre of indigenous people, led by a supposed "lawman." I found this sometimes difficult to read, but always compelling. Much gratitude to NetGalley and Harper for the opportunity to read the eARC.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    What another wonderful read from Howarth. Loved his first book and equally loved this sequel. Having visited Australia and Queensland, I could just picture the solitude and ruggedness of the country where this story took place. Not really a western fan, but I felt drawn to this story of two young boys witnessing the murder of their parents and sister and living their lives in turmoil and fear from the effects of the experiences in which they were forced to partake at the hands of Noone. Well-wri What another wonderful read from Howarth. Loved his first book and equally loved this sequel. Having visited Australia and Queensland, I could just picture the solitude and ruggedness of the country where this story took place. Not really a western fan, but I felt drawn to this story of two young boys witnessing the murder of their parents and sister and living their lives in turmoil and fear from the effects of the experiences in which they were forced to partake at the hands of Noone. Well-written and worthy of a sequel to a sequel??? Hope so!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brad Kirk

    I really liked Mr. Howarth's first novel, Only Killers and Thieves, and this book was a fun read as well. It's been a while since I read OKaT, but I was able to remember most of what happened in that book once I was immersed in the world again. The weird thing that happened while I was reading this book was that I had deja vu for the entire ending of the book. I felt like I knew exactly what was going to happen. I still really enjoyed it though. Both of these books are definitely worth reading, I really liked Mr. Howarth's first novel, Only Killers and Thieves, and this book was a fun read as well. It's been a while since I read OKaT, but I was able to remember most of what happened in that book once I was immersed in the world again. The weird thing that happened while I was reading this book was that I had deja vu for the entire ending of the book. I felt like I knew exactly what was going to happen. I still really enjoyed it though. Both of these books are definitely worth reading, but if I highly recommend reading OKaT before this one or you'll likely be very confused.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anne Brown

    3.5 stars - this sequel to "Only Killers and Thieves" was good but paled in comparison to Howarth's first book. He extended the story of Billy and Tommy McBride and their nemesis, Noone in this swiping saga that covered 20 years and a large part of Australia. The book was set in the late 1800s and showed the lawlessness that prevailed and the chasms between the wealthy and the poor not only economically but also with their power over others. If Howarth wants to continue this book with the next ge 3.5 stars - this sequel to "Only Killers and Thieves" was good but paled in comparison to Howarth's first book. He extended the story of Billy and Tommy McBride and their nemesis, Noone in this swiping saga that covered 20 years and a large part of Australia. The book was set in the late 1800s and showed the lawlessness that prevailed and the chasms between the wealthy and the poor not only economically but also with their power over others. If Howarth wants to continue this book with the next generation, sign me up to read it!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This is a well written story based in Australia in the late 1800's, early 1900's. Two brothers involved in a massacre of indigenous people take separate paths in dealing with it. The story flows nicely throughout and it's a book easy to recommend. I'll be reading more from Mr. Howarth in the future. This is a well written story based in Australia in the late 1800's, early 1900's. Two brothers involved in a massacre of indigenous people take separate paths in dealing with it. The story flows nicely throughout and it's a book easy to recommend. I'll be reading more from Mr. Howarth in the future.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    Brutal,as Australian crime fiction often is. Painting life in the 1800's as good for so few people . If you're poor,someone with darker skin or a female,you're in for a tough ride. A sequel,to abook that I'd not read,but after the opening chapters,I don't think I missed that. It was all explained. A gripping read for sure. Brutal,as Australian crime fiction often is. Painting life in the 1800's as good for so few people . If you're poor,someone with darker skin or a female,you're in for a tough ride. A sequel,to abook that I'd not read,but after the opening chapters,I don't think I missed that. It was all explained. A gripping read for sure.

  24. 4 out of 5

    D

    Dust Off The Bones is a sequel to Only Killers and Thieves and I wish I had read the first one. It isn't absolutely necessary but I would have liked to know what exactly formed Tommy and Billy McBride. We know something terrible happened to their family and that both of these characters were young at the time. Dust Off The Bones picks up a few years later with Billy living a hardscrabble life in his parents old homestead. Tommy has basically become a vagabond still traveling with a family friend Dust Off The Bones is a sequel to Only Killers and Thieves and I wish I had read the first one. It isn't absolutely necessary but I would have liked to know what exactly formed Tommy and Billy McBride. We know something terrible happened to their family and that both of these characters were young at the time. Dust Off The Bones picks up a few years later with Billy living a hardscrabble life in his parents old homestead. Tommy has basically become a vagabond still traveling with a family friend and getting into trouble on/off with the law. Their nemesis, Native Police Officer Edmund Noone, figures heavily within the pages. The deal was not to ever bring up or look into what happened in the canyon and at the McBride family home or Noone would come back to finish what he started. The story though told over a hundred years ago in the harsh climes of Australia, resonates with modern day racism, homophobia, PTSD, subjugation of women, and the abuse of power through position. This is a heavy read with some serious violence and reminded me somewhat of The Lonesome Dove. This was a Goodreads giveaway win.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stacey Meyer

    The land and characters are still hostile in the sequel to Only Killers and Thieves. Despite the brutality, I enjoyed this continuation of the story. The author has written this so you do not have to read Only Killers and Thieves first. But you should because it is also a good read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Yonit

    I would recommend reading Only Killers and Thieves before this one even though much of that story is reviewed in the sequel. This one takes place over a longer time period which possibly dilutes its impact. Still, the same great characters.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lesley

    2.5 stars. Well written and narrated but as I didn’t read the first book this one was hard to get into and keep everyone straight. I did enjoy it by the end and appreciated the setting and historical basis, just definitely read the first book if this one interests you!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dr G

    Very good . One of my favorites of the year. Would be best to read prequel Only Killers And Thieves first but not necessary. Once you read this you will want to go back and read if you havent.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Angela Randall

    It was a very good but. Well written

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Just as good as the first one.

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