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According to local legend, the historic Royal hotel in the Victorian coastal town of Queenscliff is haunted. Having served as both a mental asylum and a morgue in the early days it could hardly fail to be, but a bizarre murder in the hotel's basement puts a decidedly eerie spin on things.
The victim is an academic, obsessed with spiritualism, the tarot and the town's most famous literary resident, Henry Handel Richardson. From the outset, the local knowledge and unorthodox methods of Queenscliff's police officers, Chris Blackie and Anthea Merritt, are ridiculed by the bull-necked Detective Inspector Masterson from Geelong's CIU. And yet, hard-nosed police investigation practices seem ill-equipped to counter the otherworldly influences at play.
What DI Masterson believes is an open and shut case turns out to be anything but.
Anthea began creating a large cross with the cards. She looked up and smiled. 'I tell you what's ironic. I got into trouble for buying my own tarot pack and now Mrs Marr's using the tarot to bamboozle the inspector. I'm the only one who's done her homework and knows what the cards mean.'
Gerard Hardy's Misfortune joins Through a Camel's Eye and The Swan Island Connection as the latest, most intriguing instalment in Dorothy Johnston's sea-change mystery series.