BOOK CLUB: The Killer’s Game

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[Total: 3 Average: 4.7]

The Killers Game, Murder, Lies and Stolen Lives by Jane Smith is a historical true crime story.

In December 1899, Major Patrick Pelly, a government clerk and accountant with the WA Geological Survey, mistook his medicine for poison and died. The coroner is involved and Major Pelly’s death is noted in the paper.

The death notice is seen by Patrick Pelly, who is very much alive and serving time in Pentridge Prison. So begins the complicated process of identifying the man who died in WA.

The investigation discovers many aliases used by Major Patrick Pelly over the years. The book takes us on an exciting journey into his life and crimes.

 He was a shameless liar, had a complicated personality and was very well-educated. And, he was an amazing artist and his legacy is a stained glass window painted in the Chapel of Darlinghurst Gaol.

He even tried his hand at being a bushranger, using the name Captain Starlight. He was caught and nearly hanged but a mysterious person, possibly a relative, saved him.

The man went on to spend a large part of his life in prison for various frauds.

The book also tells us about the other bushrangers of the times and their fate. The court and prison system was rather fascinating. The brutality of the punishments of the time showed reform was needed. It was a mystery as to who he was, clearly using other people’s identities.

Jane Smith has cleverly pieced together the mystery into an interesting historical read. The book is a well-researched look at the life of Frank Pearson, quite likely not his real name, who was known as Captain Starlight.

The author has put the pieces of the puzzle together and draws the most logical conclusion to his parentage.

It is an extremely interesting read and the mystery of who he could be and what he would do next keeps you turning the pages. I learnt a lot about Australia at that time. This book is well worth reading.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading The Killer’s Game by Jane Smith. You can read their comments below or add your own review.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Killer’s Game

  1. Thankyou Beautyandlace and Big Sky Publishing for the opportunity to review The Killer’s Game’ by Jane Smith.
    This true story begins where we meet ‘respectable’ Major Pelly from a wealthy Irish family.
    He is a civil servant living in Perth and it is 1899. To his landlady Ambrosine Bowley he is a war hero! When he accidently ingests cyanide his true identidy unravels.
    We discover that he is actually Captain Starlight a man who has formerly been
    Imprisoned for many years. Over time he has taken the identity of others.
    He is actually a talented, well educated and rather eccentric person.
    The selection of photographs in the book give an insight into his deceit but also to his talents.

    This was a very interesting read which gives an idea of policing and the imprisonment system in the late 1800’s in Australia. I really enjoyed it!

  2. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the offer to review The Killer’s Game by Jane Smith.

    The main character is Captain Starlight, but I found all the characters fascinating. Captain Starlight is a source of fascination and unconventional life. I found the book to be revealing and unprejudiced and I loved learning about history with this book. I had not heard about Captain Starlight before reading this book. Author Jane Smith kept the reader informed of many assumed names, unlawful acts and victims. It is obvious Jane Smith has done a diligent investigation.
    I love to read a true story and a book based in Australia. I enjoyed this book very much and felt I had learnt a lot from reading it. I highly recommend it to everyone.

  3. Thanks very much to Beauty and Lace and Big Sky Publishing for the opportunity to read The Killers Jane by Jane Smith.

    I think like a lot of Australians I remember hearing about Captain Starlight when I was at school mainly in discussions with other bushrangers of the day! What I never realised is what an interesting history and story needs to be considered!

    Captain Starlight’s story is as intriguing as it is unusual and unlike anything I have read or studied in the past! Jane Smith has undoubtedly completed a huge amount of research to present the puzzle that is Captain Starlight so throughly. In addition she also provides an interesting view of the characters around this period.

    This is an easy to read and very easy to become engaged with story of an incredibly interesting piece of Australian modern history. The characters and the story telling style grabbed me! Highly recommended for anyone who wants to know a bit more about Captain Starlight and the life he lead. An amazing piece of history!

    Thanks again!

  4. What a surprise this turned out to be. Whilst full of facts and historical events, it was very interesting and gave deep insight into the man who turned out to be Captain Starlight.

    Well researched and written with the reader in mind, the author gave us a story, not just point blank facts thrown around. I loved how there were also short descriptions of other characters that we come across. The author noted when things were not confirmed but were thought to be associated with Captain Starlight but made the reader aware that it was possible but not certain.

    At times I thought that I was reading a novel but then I would remember that this was a true story. The photos included brought that home to me.

    Very insightful, at times funny and eventful. Loved every second of reading!

  5. A KILLER’S GAME by Isabella Maldonado is a fast-paced crime thriller featuring FBI Agent Daniela Vega. After witnessing a murder in Manhattan, Dani teams up with the killer to infiltrate a deadly conspiracy involving a powerful Senator. As they navigate a labyrinthine maze, facing off against other assassins, Dani must outsmart a vengeful game maker. With gripping suspense and a compelling protagonist, this book will keep you hooked until the end. Can Dani survive Nemesis’ ultimate revenge?

    I cant wait for the next installment!

  6. The Killers Game by Jane Smith was very much an unexpected surprise. A well-researched and thorough expose which pieced together the known parts of the life of dead man Frank Pearson, infamously known as Captain Starlight.
    I had heard of Captain Starlight but knew little of him or his life and learnt a lot reading this book, both about him and the era in which he lived. The name Captain Starlight almost sounds like a heroic figure, but in reality he lived a life of crime including identity theft and murder, hiding behind a public persona of a respectable public servant.
    So interesting, informative and eye opening, all presented in a readable and engaging manner. Altogether a wonderful read.
    Thank you, Beauty and Lace and Big Sky Publishing, for giving me the opportunity to read and review The Killer’s Game which I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys historical fact finding.

  7. The Killer’s Game by Jane Smith was a book that is very different to anything that I have read before.

    I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of Captain Starlight before reading this book and found him very intriguing and it was interesting to learn of this piece of history that I knew nothing about, especially seeing as it was about Australia and a true story. Jane Smith has certainly done a lot of investigating into the history before writing this book.

    The book tells us about Captain Starlight and other bushrangers of time and their fates, how the court and prison worked and what sorts of punishments were handed out for doing criminal wrongs.

    A very interesting read.

  8. Not the genre of book I would normal read so I was uncertain of what to expect. I had not previous knowledge of the character known as Captain Starlight or his life as a criminal or fraudster. The book is quite factual in terms of the life and crimes of Frank Pearson.

    The book delves into his life of crimes and how he assumed identities of various people and how he used these identities to create many lives and lies along the way. The pictures in the book are a nice touch and give credence to the story and the news articles at the time this crime was happening.

    An interesting and informative read giving a lot of background into the now very outdated prison system. A must for crime and mystery readers

    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Big Sky Publishing for the opportunity to read an review this book

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