The Lodeman to be launched

January 25, 2022 BY

Dorothy Johnston with her latest novel, The Lodeman. Photo: VINNIE VAN OORSCHOT

THE fourth novel in Dorothy Johnston’s sea-change mystery series set in Queenscliff, The Lodeman is about the death by drowning of a pilot.

When researching the noveI, Johnston had to learn about the history of the pilot service, and the dangers of piloting ships in and out of Melbourne.

“I researched the controversies over channel dredging and where to build a new container port,” Johnston said.

“One scene is set inside Point Lonsdale lighthouse, where my main character, police constable Chris Blackie, questions the lighthouse keeper about a boat sneaking through the heads at night without lights and with its radio switched off.”

Chris Blackie and his assistant Anthea Merritt feature in all four of Johnston’s Queenscliff mysteries. Queenscliff is a rich setting for fiction and Johnston has used as settings the training base on Swan Island (The Swan Island Connection) and historic buildings such as Hotel Q and the house where Henry Handel Handel Richardson lived as a child (Gerard Hardy’s Misfortune).

The peaceful, beautiful landscape is also important, and the strong contrast this provides to the plot of a murder mystery.

Chris Blackie is low down in the police hierarchy and would not normally be involved in a murder investigation. But in The Lodeman the pilot’s body is found by an old friend of Chris’s and this allows him to become involved. Then he starts asking questions of his own.

“I’m interested in telling stories from below,””Johnston says, “rather than from the points of view of the people in charge.”

The Lodeman is her 13th novel. She has also written many short stories and essays and two of her literary novels have been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.

The novel will be launched at the Uniting Church, corner Hesse and Stokes streets, Queenscliff at 4pm on February 12.

It is a free event, but bookings are essential. To book, head to Eventbrite.