This is the 44th detective fiction book concerning the Homicide Cases of Detectives Joseph Lind and Shelley Anne Shields partnership.
Detective Lind is ordered to take extended Annual Leave after the harrowing deaths of three young kiddies that seriously affected all those who had even a peripheral responsibility with the Cases. After a 'break' of 10 weeks, Lind returns to work feeling refreshed and enthusiastic with life but not towards his return to the 'coal face.' Perhaps the usual reaction when the holiday is one of relaxation, laughter and joy ... or maybe not!
What makes a good parent? A successful pair who steer their child with love, patience, tolerance, positive encouragement, and wise knowledge. A pair who learn by the mistakes of others and their own experiences? Who want to improve the lot for their children? Who want to encourage their children to achieve happiness in their chosen endeavour throughout their lives?
Are they in the majority?
There is more than one meaning that defines Child Abuse. Apart from sexual abuse, there is physical, emotional, and psychological abuse that also can have a serious effect on the well-being of that child growing up and entering adulthood.
With some, it is just a continuous verbal assault of negativity. Instilling a sense of insecurity and oppressive thoughts of one-self and the World onto the child.
Too often the effects cause outcomes that no-one wants to witness or experience. Often the parents of such a broken child will not accept responsibility for their bad parenting as the abuse occurred in another time...another place...for a worthwhile cause...according to their reasoning.
Too often the response is that the broken child is not of their doing ... is not a product of their loins ...
Seven weeks away from work with my family.
Just what I needed.
In a sense, it was a life-saver for me after the emotional torment of the three consecutive Child Murder cases. I knew my nerves were frayed. My equilibrium in question. My want to continue with work at rock bottom.
I realised who were my anchors were while I was away from the responsibilities of work that I had loved for so many years. That had become in fact, my reason for living with my family slipping to a poor second.
It was a wake-up call that I drastically needed.
If we worried about how the two bubs would travel, we should not have given ourselves heart-burn. Both turned out seasoned travellers and were a lot more interested in their surroundings as things flashed past than both Tellie and I combined...or they slept, which was most of the time whenever the big vehicle was moving!
We enjoyed the two-week stay at Coolum with my half-sister and her family. She and her husband still had to work and it was not School Holiday time, so we left to our own devices on most days. They took the occasional day off to show us around. The girls loved Movie World with all the cartoon characters wandering around.
As planned, we placed the 4WD on the train and enjoyed a leisurely trip north to Cairns.
Unbeknown to myself as Tellie had kept it a complete secret, we did not stay for two and half weeks at the Serviced Apartments just out of Cairns as recommended by others. Instead we ended up in a five-bedroom, elevated 'Queenslander' home with a wide, covered veranda on all sides with expansive gardens, a slightly heated in-ground pool and spa and sauna. Situated in North Cairns with glimpses of the aquamarine ocean on one side and the lush tropical rainforest escarpment to the north and west.
The family of this beautiful home were holidaying in the snowfields of Northern Japan.
I almost had a heart-attack on opening the double front door when we arrived.
"Surprise!" Was the shouted welcome.
Muscles and Marge with the triplets stood there with smiles across their faces a mile wide. Laughter that enveloped me.
If the truth be known, Muscles was well overdue for a break.
The last one he had was the sabbatical to the fields of southern Belgium trying to identify the remains of over a hundred soldiers, most of whom were Australian. That was well before his 'hook-up' with Marge Hendricks.
His triplets were now almost five, so that gives some idea how long it had been.
Too long between drinks, that was sure!
How Muscles had kept the arrangements to himself, was beyond me. He was usually lousy at keeping secrets...but Tellie? She was a wizard in that regard!
We spent three glorious weeks sharing the house together. The only disruption to the peace and tranquillity was the occasional kids fighting and a tantrum chucked by my Samantha. She was going through the 'terrible two' stage.
We had the bestest holiday ever!
The grounds of the house were coloured with just about every Parrot and bird known to man-kind, so it seemed, with Bush Wallabies, Wombats and Goannas always early morning visitors. The occasional snake slithered through but even the kids seemed to know without being told, to keep a safe distance from them. Most were Pythons and non-poisonous, but you never can be sure. Insects, big ones and little biting ones were a problem especially with Al and Sam. Sam came out in large, ugly welts where she had been bitten and the Mossies and Midges seemed to be attracted to her.
We spent an inordinate amount of money and having conversations with half the population of North Queensland so it seemed, on various Insect Repellents and Creams until some-one told us about Vitamin 'B' Tablets and a mixture of Eucalyptus Oil and Tea-Tree oil liberally spread over all exposed skin. With a bit of experimentation, we found the ideal mixture and my two and Muscles' three had no problems after that.
We did, as the smell of the concoction took away that lovely little child smell on most occasions.
Everyone in North Queensland has a favourite concoction to stave off insect bite. They will swear by it. Cold tea left to dry seemed to be an old favourite but it didn't seem to work on our kids!
Another relief which we did not try on the kids was egg white spread on their limbs which was supposed to work well...but it comes off very easily in the chlorine water of the pool. Dozens upon dozens of eggs can get quite expensive! If we kept up with our concoction before and after they entered the pool...and they kept their 'Rashers' on, we had no problems with constant bites.
Us adults found the perfect mixture. Two Vitamin 'B' Tablets first thing in the morning and plenty of alcohol...taken internally!!
The kids loved the Train ride up the side of the Escarpment to Karanda and the return trip on the Skyway.
Spiders! The bloody things abounded in plague proportion and you no quickly swiped cob-webs away to turn around to see three more spiders industriously making their own!
Every week, the Mower-man, Pool-man and two House-keepers came to take care of everything. Just how a holiday should be!
Even the bed linen changed each week, barring any little accident from the kids. The washing done off-site and our clothes returned laundered and ironed to perfection.
Somehow, the Holidays extended to a ten-week duration without me knowing, which bridged the last week of Winter and most of Spring. Another clandestine agreement between Tellie and my Boss. Again, me kept in the dark while arrangements made without my involvement.
I didn't have to worry about a bloody thing as Tellie had it all under control!
We propped at my half-sister's place on my biological father's side at Port Macquarie to see Dad and my step-Mum on the way up, spending more time there on the way home south. My step-mum was not faring that well but Dad seemed to have gained a second lease on life and was the picture of health. My half-sister had found a new love and she too, was a picture of happiness and health. Good on her as it had now been some years since her husband had suddenly passed away. A heart-attack while he was doing his usual early morning laps at the local pool.
She deserved that second bite of the cherry!
Clem 'Lofty' Hills Series:
Murder Squad Series: