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Moonlight Downs (Emily Tempest #1)

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  317 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
Winner of Australia’s Ned Kelly Award for Best First Novel

“Beguiling . . . wonderful.”—The New York Times Book Review

“A hymn to the wit, courage, stark beauty and the power of dreaming of a unique people. One cannot help but be enriched by it.”—Anne Perry

“Impressive.”—Baltimore Sun

“Hyland excels at drawing the reader into a strange, rough world. This debut novel is fil
...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 1st 2009 by Soho Crime (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 877)
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Brenda
4.5s

When Emily Tempest arrived back in her old community of Moonlight Downs after ten years away, she could see that not much had changed. But she still felt a sense of not belonging – she’d always felt pulled between the two worlds; Aboriginal and white. But when her childhood friend Hazel turned up again it didn’t take long before they were relaxing in each other’s company. But a few days later a dear friend was found murdered; mutilated in the nearby bush – the terror of the locals caused a m
...more
Trish
I am thrilled to see a writer of Hyland’s gifts create a series with an Aboriginal heroine called Emily Tempest. Hyland’s use of language is so specific to the region that readers unschooled in the language of the Australian bush might not be able to comprehend. There is a glossary--for Aboriginal words and Australian slang—but still. For me, however, it is pure bliss.

Strains of music can be heard throughout the book and one is tempted to read while listening to those artists mentioned to see wh
...more
Sally906
Nov 30, 2015 Sally906 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, favorites
This book is set where I live, in the Northern Territory, in the center desert country – the author is a white man who is writing from the point of view of an Indigenous Australian – and doing it very well. Adrian Hyland spent many years on communities in the Central Australian desert area – so has at least lived with the people whose culture he recreates so achingly well.
Emily Tempest has a white father and an aboriginal mother. After her mother’s death her father took Emily to her mother’s peo
...more
David
Jul 22, 2012 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having recently read and thoroughly enjoyed Adrian Hyland's Gunshot Road (Emily Tempest #2), I thought it only right that I read the first Emily Tempest book, Diamond Dove - and I was not disappointed.

Emily Tempest is the daughter of a white miner, Motor Jack and his deceased Aboriginal wife. Being of mixed race, Emily has a diverse grounding in both Aboriginal culture and white Australia. She attended boarding college in Adelaide, is well read, went to Uni for three unfinished degrees and has t
...more
Karen
Oct 12, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Emily Tempest, drawn back to Central Australia and to the place she grew up, Moonlight Downs, instantly feels at peace with the Warlpuju people. Here are her best friend Hazel and Hazel's father Lincoln Flinders, a much respected tribal elder. The Warlpuju have always been her mob and Moonlight Downs her Country. Emily was instantly accepted and included from childhood even though she is the daughter of a white man and a Wantiya women. She's done her fair share of walkabout since she left the Do ...more
Rana
Sep 14, 2015 Rana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty excellent murder mystery set in the outback of North Australia.

Something that I learned: that "mob" is the proper designation for a group of Aboriginal peoples associated with a specific area, in Australian Aboriginal English, which is different than "skin group" which is based on blood. And if you ever want to wander down a particular fascinating Internet wormhole, I would like to recommend investigating the various English dialects, and some true distinct languages, spoken in Australia
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Andrew
Apr 04, 2015 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I selected this book simply because it was listed as a murder mystery set in the Outback. As such, I thought I'd take a chance on it. It proved to be a worthwhile investment of time and money.

The characters were likable, and they felt Australian without it feeling like the author “forced” it upon the characters to fit them into the environment. Similarly, the book belonged in the Outback; it would not have been the same book if the characters and plot were transported to some other locale.

I di
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Brad Lucas
Jul 06, 2014 Brad Lucas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't begin to describe how much I loved this book. Despite the fact that the author is a 55 year old white guy, the book is written from the perspective of a 26 year old indigenous woman. Here's a great quote from an interview with Adrian Hyland:

"He says writing from the point of view of an indigenous woman is an imaginative leap like any other. ''I don't think I'm doing anything writers haven't always done - imagining characters, loving them, trying to breathe life into them,'' Hyland says.
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mbattist
Aug 09, 2009 mbattist rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most amazing books that I've read. The pov is the mixed blood Aboriginal female investigator. The integration of culture, spirit world and landscape of central Australia is unique and compelling. Can't wait for the next - please let there be a next. Another home run from Soho Crime.
Anne Claire
Jan 02, 2015 Anne Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
J'ai aimé. J'ai aimé l'immersion totale parmi des coutumes d'un autre temps, la découverte de paysages dans lesquels la vie moderne n'a pas sa place. J'ai aimé le contraste que l'on ressent dans la violence de Bluebush.
Tout l'équilibre de cette vie repose sur un fil, représenté en grande partie par le Chef.
Grâce à cette enquête, Emily Tempest va nous permettre de faire connaissance avec différents personnages, différents caractères, différents modes de vie, aussi incroyable que cela puisse para
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Cyndee
Apr 06, 2008 Cyndee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This beautiful mystery novel follows the journey of a young Aboriginal woman. Torn between 'blackfellers' and 'whitefellers', torn between the outback and the modern world. A great tale of Aboriginal lands and dreaming.
Tory Wagner
Aug 06, 2014 Tory Wagner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This is the second in the series featuring Emily Tempest, a Aboriginal woman who left and later returned to Australia. The tone of this book was a little rougher with more violence and harsh language, but the storyline was engaging. Emily's character continues to develop and we meet again several of the characters from the first book including her boyfriend JoJo and her sister Hazel. The descriptions of the Outback are vivid and it's easy to see how the environment can pull a person down. Many m ...more
Rachel Jones
Mar 03, 2008 Rachel Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm so predictable sometimes. Murder + exotic locale = happy me.
Trish
I am thrilled to see a writer of Hyland’s gifts create a series with an Aboriginal heroine called Emily Tempest. Hyland’s use of language is so specific to the region that readers unschooled in the language of the Australian bush might not be able to comprehend. There is a glossary--for Aboriginal words and Australian slang—but still. For me, however, it is pure bliss.

Strains of music can be heard throughout the book and one is tempted to listen while reading to those artists mentioned to see wh
...more
Victoria
Adrian Hyland will take you on a wonderful journey through the Austrailian Bush in this surprising murder-mystery with his terribly interesting character of Emily Tempest, and all of her friends and enemies alike.
We first meet Emily, trying to find her place in the world, returning to her homeland of Australia, to her childhood memories and best friends, in Moonlight Downs - the (Aboriginal) community where she grew up.
Shortly after she arrives however, the community leader, Lincoln, is brutally
...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
I'm so glad that this author was recommended to me and I can't believe I haven't run across it before. Its not dissimilar in theme and tone to Philip Gywnnes The Build Up that I read a few months ago in that is a crime/mystery story with a strong female protagonist set in the unique Australian state of the Northen Territory.
Emily Tempest is half white and half Aboriginal and spent the majority of her childhood in Midnight Downs - a black fella camp in the wilds of the territory. After an incide
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Seana
May 25, 2013 Seana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The immediate comparison for a fan of American mystery fiction is to compare Hyland's writing to that of the late lamented Tony Hillerman, who wrote highly readable and well informed mystery novels set in and around the Navajo lands of the Southwest. Hyland is equally knowledgeable about the aboriginal people of Outback Australia, a part of the world he's lived in and where he's interacted with its native communities extensively.

Hyland provides the bridge to this world in the form of one Emil
...more
Karen
Apr 05, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, australian
Emily Tempest, drawn back to Central Australia and to the place she grew up, Moonlight Downs, instantly feels at peace with the Warlpuju people. Here are her best friend Hazel and Hazel's father Lincoln Flinders, a much respected tribal elder. The Warlpuju have always been her mob and Moonlight Downs her Country. Emily was instantly accepted and included from childhood even though she is the daughter of a white man and a Wantiya women. She's done her fair share of walkabout since she left the Do ...more
Doreene
Jul 31, 2012 Doreene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever wanted to travel to Australia? Well, pick up this book and you are on your way! But, not just any part! This book takes place in Central Australia and many of the characters are Indigenous people. The main character, Emily Tempest, has ties to the white community as well as to the Indigenous folks. She is a force to be reckoned with!! The mystery part of the book is well thought out. The real charm to the book, however, is the setting and the language used. There is a small glossar ...more
Vickie
Apr 10, 2012 Vickie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot remember where I saw this book reviewed (I have GOT to start writing this info down!), but it immediately intrigued me. It's set in Australia and not by someone writing from another location about a suspense set in Australia. Rather Adrian Hyland actually walks the walk. (I could have said 'walks the walkabout', but you'll see I thought better of it).


It took a couple of chapters to get the flow of the lingo, but got into it and my enjoyment increased even more.




There's more than the mu
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LJ
First Sentence: I parked my little white ute on the outskirts of the camp and sat there, looking out at the scatter of corrugated iron hovels.

Emily Tempest has traveled Australia and the world, only to return to return to the community where she grew up; Moonlight Downs. Shortly after her return, the beloved leader of the community is brutally murdered. The obvious suspect is the half-crazed aboriginal, Blackie. But is the obvious suspect too obvious.

It is not easy for an author to write cross-
...more
Spuddie
May 04, 2010 Spuddie rated it it was amazing
Set in the outback of Australia, this is the first in a series featuring Emily Tempest, the 26-year-old daughter of a whitefeller miner and an Aboriginal woman. Emily returns to the outback after several years meandering around, trying various university courses, and still not sure what to do with her life. Since her mother died young, she spent much of her time growing up in Moonlight Downs, the blackfeller settlement in the outback, but she doesn't feel totally a part of either the white or th ...more
Rob Kitchin
Aug 09, 2012 Rob Kitchin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Diamond Dove is a wonderful novel. Engagingly written, with good prose, a well crafted, multi-textured plot, and perfectly paced, Hyland transports the reader into the natural and social environment of the Australian outback, the worlds of aborigines and white settlers, and their interface. In both the bush and the town, Hyland evokes a rich sense of place conveying their respective sights, textures, sounds and smells. The characterization is excellent, with Emily Tempest particularly well drawn ...more
Sam
Feb 01, 2012 Sam rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Once I adjusted to the Australian lingo and some of the Aboriginal language this was a really good read. The start was a bit slow due to the dialogue adjustment, so I had a hard time getting into the book for the first 50 pages or so, but eventually everything flowed together and it was a wonderful insight into the Northern Territory of Australia. Downs was definitely worth sticking with and I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery on top of reading about Australia and the Aborigine/white conflict.

Emily
...more
Val
Feb 02, 2016 Val rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: global-extra
This is the first book in a series, but the second one I read. It gives a lot more background to the protagonist, Emily Tempest, and to the group of tribal Aborigines she finds a home with.
The murder mystery is not as gripping as the one in the second book in the series (which I read first), and gets swamped by the background and setting at times. I enjoyed reading about the background and setting however, so liked this book more than the other one.
In this one a tribal elder is killed, apparentl
...more
Janet
Jun 28, 2009 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book cover says 'An Emily Tempest Investigation', so this is presumably planned to be the first in a series of mysteries. The protagonist, Emily Tempest, is in her 20s, and has a white father and an aboriginal mother. She took off to university and then traveled, but has come back to where she grew up. There's a murder, which she feels compelled to investigate. It's a bit uneven. I think the intent was for Emily to be tough and independent, but the character JoJo pops up conveniently on seve ...more
An
Apr 09, 2014 An rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Painting a very vivid picture of life in outback Australia, this book is a very well-written crime mystery set in an Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory. Beautiful language, interesting characters and a great read.
Susan
Jan 09, 2012 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Half-aboriginal Emily Tempest returns to the camp of Moonlight Downs not far from Alice Springs after years of traveling around the world. Just as she is settling in, Lincoln Flinders, a respected community leader, is killed. The local sorcerer is an obvious suspect. However, doubts about his guilt arise when several land ownership disputes surface. I wanted to like this book because Emily is such an remarkable character. Unfortunately, the story never seemed to come together. It is filled with ...more
Deirdre Routt
Jun 19, 2014 Deirdre Routt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the Australian Outback with an Aboriginal woman as the protagonist this may be considered exotic and unusual by many. It works well -- the main character, Emily Tempest, is complicated and compelling. She is a reluctant detective. The mystery was also compelling. Definitely not a cozy mystery.
Calzean
Jan 08, 2014 Calzean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stone the crows. Strewth. You could knock me down with a feather. Great characters, creative use of the Australian vernacular, and an innovative look at Aboriginal and Territorian culture. There is much humour in this book full of murder and sadness.

Emily Tempest is a great leading lady, who has moved back to her old hometown. Murder, the evil Government, greedy cattlemen and miners all lead her through a variety of scenes that shows a way of life few have experienced.
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Adrian Hyland spent many years in the Northern Territory, living and working among indigenous people. He now teaches at LaTrobe University and lives in the north-east of Melbourne. His first novel, Diamond Dove won the 2007 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction.
More about Adrian Hyland...

Other Books in the Series

Emily Tempest (2 books)
  • Gunshot Road (Emily Tempest, #2)

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