150 years ago Frank Gardiner was the most famous outlaw in Australia, leading a team of bushrangers which included Ben Hall and Johnny Gilbert. He held up mail coaches, plundered gold and stole horses and cattle, but he claimed that he had never hurt any woman or committed a mean or petty act.
Frank Gardiner escaped hanging for his crimes, and was the first man to be exiled from Australia as part of his punishment. He lived out his days in America.
Fire in the blood is a fictionalised account of Gardiner’s life both in Australia and in the United States and provides an inside look not just at his escapades, but also at those of his contemporaries. Told in first person, Gardiner shares his past through a series of flashbacks, stimulated by the arrival in the US of Harry Hall, son of Ben. At the same time, Harry and Gardiner have dramas of their own—Harry, it seems, has come to America to kill Gardiner.
Whilst a work of fiction, most of this story is based on the facts of Gardner’s life. By using the novel form, rather than a straight non-fiction piece, author Robert Macklin provides an opportunity for the reader to explore the human side of the bushranger.
An intriguing read.
Fire in the Blood, by Robert Macklin
Allen & Unwin, 2005