> Skip to content

An unsolved murder takes one of Australia’s foremost writers of non-fiction into the 1930s Bohemian demi-monde, exploring the fate of a talented young woman trying to make her way in that artistic, sexualised, ‘liberated’ world.

On the night of 21 November 1930, twenty-five-year-old school teacher Mollie Dean was beaten to death 50 metres from her home in Elwood. The public was shocked: brutal killing, beautiful young victim, no clear motive.

The shock deepened when the inquest revealed that Mollie was in bed, figuratively and literally, with Melbourne’s bohemian circle, in particular Australia’s leading conductor Fritz Hart and the rising star of Australian art Colin Colahan, both married; she had also been the mistress of Australia’s mightiest wrestler and body builder Clarence Weber. Mollie was herself an aspiring writer, and in turn was an inspiration. In life she was painted and described in diaries. Her death became part of numerous novels, most notably the classic My Brother Jack.

But who was Mollie other than a victim? Gideon Haigh listens to echoes of her voice in court documents, diaries and above all in the art and literature of the world that exploited and excluded her even as it celebrated her in its art, to reveal the dangerous life of a talented young woman without a room of her own.

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    April 2, 2018

    Hamish Hamilton

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    March 28, 2018

    Penguin eBooks

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Gideon Haigh

Mystery Spinner: Text Classics
Stroke of Genius
Certain Admissions: A Beach, a Body and a Lifetime of Secrets
Ashes to Ashes
Uncertain Corridors: Writings on modern cricket
End of the Road?: Penguin Special
On Warne
The Deserted Newsroom: Penguin Special
The Office
Spheres Of Influence
The Vincibles
The Ashes 2009
Inside Out
The Racket
Asbestos House
The Tencyclopedia
The Uncyclopedia
Bad Company: The Cult of the CEO: Quarterly Essay 10


Green Is the New Black
The Murder of Allison Baden-Clay
Pablo Escobar
Unmaking a Murder
Mr Nice
The Monster of Florence
Breaking Vegas
Good Cop, Bad War
The Shepherd's Bush Murders
Lethal Force
Remembering Anita Cobby
The Dirty Game
In Pursuit of the Truth
One of the Family
The Secret Train Robber