Adrian Hyland’s Gunshot Road (2010) is the second novel in an incipient crime-novel series that won the 2007 Ned Kelly Awards for Crime Writing in the category Best First Novel. In this issue, Emily Tempest, a local Aboriginal rebel with a cause, returns as the Aboriginal Community Police Officer for the outback township of Bluebush in the Northern Territory, persuaded to take up this new career by her friend, the local police officer Superintendent Tom MacGillivray. When Tom is hospitalized she’s put to work under an eastcoast stand-in called Cockburn, who she doesn’t get along with at all, and things come to a head in their investigation of a killing at the Green Swamp Well Roadhouse.
Like the series first, Diamond Dove (2006), Gunshot Road stands out for its realistic detail in its description of contemporary Aboriginal life in the Northern Territory, and its explanations of the intricacies of Aboriginal culture, such as ritual, sacred sites, kinship structures, totems and taboos, and the importance of country. It also pits the local white and Indigenous communities against each other in credible ways, dealing with red-neck small towns, fringe dwelling, mining activity and local farming, and shows how the Aboriginal mob is caught between a traditional and dcontemporary lifestyle.