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.

3 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!

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