To Kill a Crested Bellbird and Other Stories by David Jagger and Gayatri J. Shaikh (illustrator)

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To Kill A Crested Bellbird, back cover blurb in Word

Alternately tragic and comic, often in the same sentence, and with not a word of dialogue or deft cadence out of place,’ - Peter Goldsworthy

 

The jury’s in, sequestered-slash-quarantined overnight on a serious criminal case in the suitably imposing Alice Springs courthouse. But the jury’s well and truly out on whether or not justice will be served, what with all the baggage the jurors have brought to the case, the misapprehensions. To say nothing of their phones to help combat Covid. Then there’s the judge’s baggage.

 

 

The case, prosecuted in this collection’s novella, is encountered via short stories set even more remotely. They’re like unsettled little satellite settlements around any really remote town, outliers – outlaws – to the town’s edifice of law. But the police are never far away. Supposedly just eight minutes away, for instance, while a break-and-enter victim and the young trespasser watch very early morning commercial TV together waiting. Or left for dead – well, left floundering in a roadside ditch at least – by the Black Elvis, a modern, musical, Aboriginal, outback Robin Hood. Of sorts.

 

 

Loosely law-themed, and loosely but lovingly illustrated, Crested Bellbird has many voices.