In 1898 in rural New South Wales, a brother and two sisters are found bludgeoned to death under very peculiar circumstances. The crime creates a sensation throughout Australia, but the mystery is never solved. Nearly 60 years later, one of the last surviving members of the family (12 brothers and sisters) tells the story and, in the process of doing so, reveals the truth of what really happened to his siblings on that tragic day.


This novel is part of Rodney Hall's Yandilli trilogy, which includes The Second Bridegroom, The Grisly Wife (see this database) and Captivity Captive. The three novels reveal "glimpses of an Australian paradise, purgatory, and hell" during a nearly 100 year span from the early days of the convict colony to the end of the 19th century. The central action of all three takes place in a rural area of New South Wales (Yandilli).

"Captivity Captive" is a sophisticated whodunit, as well as being an intense family drama. From the standpoint of diagnostic reasoning, Occam's Razor is generally a good principle; that is, one should attempt to account for all the features of an illness by attributing them to a single diagnosis.

However, sometimes the conjunction of two or more common conditions is responsible for an illness Occam's Razor would call a single rare disease. The same reasoning can reframe apparently insoluble crimes. Captivity Captive provides a satisfying explanation (grounded in the "soft" data of family relationships) for a crime that defies "hard" logic.


McPhee Gribble

Place Published

Sydney, Australia



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