"Canongate was a colourful town in 1865 -- convicts, a goldrush, marauding bushrangers -- but nothing much happens now and there's nothing much to do except hang around the Mall and get hassled by the cops.
"Nat whistler can't wait to get out of the place.
"But then he discovers a thrilling link to the past: he's descended from the Whistler, who robbed banks and gold escorts with the notorious Captain Kydd and was shot dead by troopers at the age of 15. Nat digs deeper, finding disturbing parallels between his life and Whistler's.
"And who was the mysterious Moondyne Kate, who could ride like the wind and whose voice sings from the past?
"The truth is dark, elusive. As Nat peels away the layers and becomes entangled in the shadowy affairs of the town, his life takes a turn into danger."
Nathanael Whistler, 'Nat' for short, wasn't doing anything wrong, just hanging around the Canongate Mall with the others, Dal, Renny, Jess and Laura who were Goths, a couple of others, when the cops appeared and told him to turn out his pockets.
There were wrong things he could have been doing. He could have been playing truant from school that day, but wasn't; he could ahve been snatching handbags or laptops, but the thought never entered his head. He could have been shoplifting, smoking, begging, hassling elderly citizens or taunting people because of the colour of their skin, but Nat wasn't doing any of those things. Nat was simply hanging around the Mall with his friends.
Let's say you're a shopkeeper, there's a bunch of kids outside your shop. Look at their hair: long, short, shorn, shaped, shapeless, multi-coloured. Look at their clothes: baggy pants, high-tops, Chicago Bears T-shirts, baseball caps, a couple of girls in Goth outfits. Look at their manner: they're scaring people away, probably dealing drugs.
Quick, call the police.
From the Hodder paperback edition, 2001.
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Last modified: November 30, 2006.