The Gilded Madonna
The Gilded Madonna
Halloran pulled the sheet down to the man’s waist. What I saw made me take a deep breath: the man’s throat was cut so deeply his head looked like it had almost been severed.
“If you tell me this man was found in the public toilet behind the grandstand of Coogee Oval opposite where I live, I might just need a chair,” I said.
Clyde Smith’s quiet, happy life, in love for the first time, working as a private detective and journalist, is suddenly thrown into disarray by the appearance, after a three year hiatus, of a body bearing the distinctive hallmarks of a string of murders he hadn’t been able to solve when working in homicide.
Forced to cooperate with the new detective sergeant who’d taken his place in the local cop shop, Clyde has to not only deal with the enormous chip on the young man’s shoulder, but also with a complex case that involves kidnapping, the re-emergence of the Silent Cop Killer, the historical abuse of young men and boys in orphanages across the State, and a ghost from the past who is out for revenge.
Will Clyde and the new DS be able to find the killer before he finds them? Or will they be his final prize, the last victims in his string of grisly murders? Perhaps only the local psychic, owner of a Romany religious statue, the Gilded Madonna, can provide the clue that might ultimately solve the puzzle, but which will also lead Clyde and DS Dioli into mortal danger.
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The story of The Gilded Madonna is based on three real life events
that took place in Sydney during the 1950s and early 60s, fictionally
altered in time and with names changed.
The first of these was the kidnapping of Graeme Thorne in 1960,
creating as much of a sensation in Australia as the Lindberg kidnapping
had done in the USA in the early 1930s. The second, the case of the
“Mutilation Murderer” William MacDonald, who, between 1961 and
1962, was responsible for a string of grisly murders in Sydney. One of
his victims was found in a public toilet in the park next my high school
at the time I was a student there. The final event is one with a long
history, starting well before the beginning of this book: the physical and
sexual abuse of young men over the course of decades in orphanages
and religious homes in N.S.W.