Death and The Running Patterer is Robin Adair’s first novel, which deals with a series of murders in convict Sydney of 1828. Governor Ralph Darling is not pleased when one of the fledgling colony’s soldiers is killed, but as the killings continue and get more violent, he is forced to put his faith in the investigative ability of Nicodemus Dunne. Dunne is an ex-policeman, an ex-Bow Street Runne who was transported to Australia and now makes his living as a running patterer—reading and reciting the news for people in the colony without access to newspapers because of lack of time, cost or illiteracy. Not only does he have the ability and skills to track down the killer, he also has the contacts, working in the streets, the pubs and the back areas of Sydney daily, and few notice a man who is always around, a man who is expected to be interested in “the news”. As Dunne searches he finds there are a lot of secrets in the newly formed colony and he is quickly under threat himself. The setting of early-colonial Sydney is not commonly used but works very well in this novel. The interweaving of the characters and the fledgling city sit together well, with glimpses of the pubs, the brothels, the newspaper offices, and the day-to-day living giving the story a depth of setting to work in. There’s a real sense of the society trying to come to terms with the Colonial background, to create an identity of its own. At the same time, there’s constant acknowledgement of where many of the players come from – their backgrounds are sketched out, providing a real sense of moving on from the past. The brief glimpses of the awful treatment of the Indigenous peoples, and yet their willingness to help and befriend the incomers is nicely balanced.