ABC Radio Review 29/8 Transcript

September 21, 2009

ABC radio612 ABC Saturday Breakfast with Phil Smith – Saturday Reads with Ian Jay

The Ned Kelly Game – 29 August 2009

Phil: Ian, it’s good to have you here with us.  Good morning.

Ian:  My question to you Phil. 

Phil: Yes?

Ian:  If you were looking for Ned Kelly’s skull, where would you search?  Where would you go?

Phil:  If I hadn’t read this newspaper article you’ve just handed me, I wouldn’t have a clue.  But apparently we might head to Perth, there’s a Western Australian guy who reckons he’s got it.

Ian: Yeah

Phil: There’s a possibility it’s in a mass grave uncovered last year in Old Melbourne Gaol.

Ian: Uh hum

Phil: I reckon there’s a chance that some really weird collector has got that and it’s not going on eBay any time soon. 

Ian: What about in your parents’ attic?  Would you expect to find it there?

Phil: My parents don’t have an attic so no, I wouldn’t.  But that’s the basis of The Ned Kelly Game by Lea Scott.

Ian: Yeah

Phil: And basically this is one of the great mysteries.  Now, let’s just do the history first.  Are we even sure when we realised that Ned Kelly’s skull was missing?

Ian: Well, apparently not.  There is some confusion about where it actually ended up.  Some believe it went missing just after he was hung in Old Melbourne Gaol in, was it 1850 or something?

Phil:  Well, 130th anniversary next year so it’s 129 years.

Ian: Yeah, OK so it could have gone missing then. And then there are those who actually believe it was on display at the Old Melbourne Gaol until about 1970-something.

Phil: But they’re not really sure if it was the real deal or a copy that was in the case?  That’s right?  And in 1978 at some stage it just disappeared?

Ian: Yeah, so the mystery abounds and what Lea has done with her book is that she’s tucked in the whole concept of the missing skull and turned it into a nice little thriller story for us.

Phil: OK, so basically it’s formed around a group of university students and our main heroine Felicity

Ian: Yep, and nasty things start happening to these youngsters as they look into what’s become of Ned’s head.  Years after it goes missing and is never returned, Felicity finds herself going through her parents’ things because they unfortunately died in a car accident, and while she’s going through the keep and the throw out of their home she comes across a box.  Inside it is the skull that her boyfriend and his three mates stole thirty years previously. 

Phil: OK, university prank?

Ian: Yeah

Phil: Which is quite plausible.  It happens.  Alright, what happens next?

Ian: Well, she’s actually run into her ex-boyfriend, his name’s Sam, at the funeral of her parents a few days previous to this.  So she kind of remembered him.  Next thing he gets a message on his bedroom wall, written in what appears to be blood “I will see you there, where I go” which was one of Ned’s famous final statements.  And that’s a bit scary.  I mean that’s not the sort of thing you expect to find on your bedroom wall.

Phil: No. But after having met a former girlfriend, you know, maybe they didn’t part on good terms?

Ian: Well, that is part of why this book’s quite clever, is because we have all those little things going on behind the scenes as well.  However, poor old Sam finds himself hung by the neck until dead.  Now, what’s going to happen now of course is, what about the three other guys?  Felicity rekindles a kind of relationship with a Dean of the university.  They are friends and their relationship tends to gain momentum here, and she tries to put Ned’s soul to rest.  She wants to bury the skull back with the rest of his family in country Victoria, put it all to rest because she thinks there’s some kind of psycho-babble going on and it will all sort of end when Ned’s put to rest.

Phil: OK, so we’re delving into a little bit of that ookie-pookie thriller type stuff as well as, essentially, what is a crime novel.

Ian: Absolutely.  And you’ve got the detective as well, Mace Kennedy, and he’s a really good character because he’s quite a knockabout sort of fellow.  He doesn’t take too much rubbish from fools.  He tends to keep things pretty on a straight level and honest, but of course he’s led up the garden path just as much as the readers are by the unfolding events.

Phil: OK, The Ned Kelly Game. I’ve got Ian Jay with me this morning on 612 ABC Brisbane at Saturday Reads time, and we’re looking into Lea Scott’s The Ned Kelly Game, a psychological crime thriller.  It’s a first effort?

Ian: Yep

Phil: OK, it sounds like it’s got a great little (story) – and don’t tell us how it finishes…

Ian: I promise.

Phil: But what did you make of it as a first effort and a good read?

Ian: Yeah, it works pretty well because she’s been able to combine these ingredients of the legend of Ned Kelly into a modern thriller.  It’s set in modern Victoria and around Melbourne, locations that a lot of us will be familiar with.  It works pretty well and we all kind of get the idea of the detective working behind the scenes and being up against it.  And she brings in some interesting characters as well that you don’t expect.  Part of Felicity’s history is unveiled to actually go through this trying to solve the mystery and put things to rest.  And of course, along the way nasty things continue to happen.  So it works out really well in that way and she wraps it up quite nicely at the end.  Probably could stretch herself a little bit more, I mean a first novel, and that’s not unusual finding her feet and I think that as she progresses as an author it will become perhaps a more rounded affair. 

Phil: There you are.  And there is a national campaign launched to find Ned Kelly’s long lost skull and bring it back to Victoria.  As I say there are various options, and Lea Scott is well behind the campaign in that respect.  Not sure where this thing might be but the Sunday Herald Sun is basically driving that, the newspaper.  Next year is the 130th anniversary.


No Comments Yet.

Got something to say?




Lea Scott