Perth, 1899: a respected public servant mistakes a bottle of cyanide for his heart medicine, swallows it and dies. Months later on the other side of the country, a prisoner of Pentridge gaol with the same name as the deceased reads of the inquest with alarm. He writes to the coroner with his suspicions: the supposedly upstanding government accountant was an impostor – an ex-con – who had stolen his identity and deceived people at the highest level. The claims sent the authorities into a spin; who really was the deceased? Was it possible he was the bushranger known as ‘Captain Starlight’ who, thirty years earlier, had callously murdered a policeman and been sentenced to hang? How had he pulled off the subterfuge and what other secrets remained hidden? As the investigation unfolds, the remarkable life and crimes of Captain Starlight, committed across four states of Australia under countless aliases, are revealed. Author Jane Smith’s meticulous research reveals the stranger than fiction story of a compulsive liar and serial imposter: a doctor, a stockman and an accountant – and a bushranger, forger, con-man and killer. It is a true story of murder and deceit that reveals new information and presents, for the first time, a theory as to the real identity of the bushranger known as ‘Captain Starlight’.
Author and librarian Jane Smith has a passion for Australian history and bushrangers in particular. With thirteen books on the subject published since 2014, and with titles receiving award nominations in the ABIA and CBCA awards and glowing reviews nationally it appears that Jane’s fascination with Australian history is shared by children, parents and teachers alike!
In 2015 Captain Thunderbolt from her much loved Australian Bushranger series was shortlisted in the 2015 ABIA Awards. Shoot-out from the Rock the first in her new series, Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy, followed suit as a 2017 CBCA Book of the Year notable. The books teach younger readers about the colourful lives of our bushranging legends and the times they lived in. Her meticulous research offers an insight that goes beyond the surface into the personalities of her ‘characters’ and debunks a few well-known myths and ‘facts’ along the way.
Jane’s clever and entertaining series has been written with not only a flare for fun and reader engagement but also with the Australian National Curriculum in mind. The seventh book in the Tommy Bell series was released in February 2019.