The last bushrangers in Australian history, James and Patrick Kenniff, were at the height of their horse thieving operation at the turn of the 20th century. In One, troops cannot pull the Kenniff Gang out of the ranges and plains of Western Queensland – the brothers know the terrain too well, and the locals are sympathetic to their escapades. When a policeman and a station manager go out on patrol from tiny Upper Warrego Station and disappear, Sergeant Nixon makes it his mission to pursue the gang, especially, Jim Kenniff, who becomes for him an emblem of the violence that resides in the heart of the country.
One is a novel of minimalist lyrical beauty that traverses the intersections between violence and love. It asks what right one man has to impose his will on another, and whether the written law can ever answer the law of the heart?
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
Dark and haunting and truly excellent; this is a story of bushrangers and law and order, with a clash of cultures hovering just to the side. The author has written in a sparse and slightly bygone style so as to transport us back to the highlands and plains of central Queensland in the late 19th century, where a few bushrangers still roamed and the few police pursued. All the characters have been given hefty doses of meanness, compassion and various human frailties, which serves to convey the harshness and the loneliness of life in the bush.
Patrick Holland is one of Australia’s most accomplished literary writers. One explores the violent history of Australian colonisation but within a gripping and highly personal narrative of Australia’s last bushrangers. A quintessentially Australian narrative.