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About the book
  • Published: 9 September 2009
  • ISBN: 9780143010661
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $24.99
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The Tall Man

Death and Life on Palm Island




The Tall Man is the story of Palm Island, the tropical paradise where one morning Cameron Doomadgee swore at a policeman and forty minutes later lay dead in a watch-house cell.

The story of a death, a policeman, an island and a country.
The Tall Man is the story of Palm Island, the tropical paradise where one morning Cameron Doomadgee swore at a policeman and forty minutes later lay dead in a watch-house cell. It is the story of that policeman, the tall, enigmatic Christopher Hurley who chose to work in some of the toughest and wildest places in Australia, and of the struggle to bring him to trial. Above all, it is a story in luminous detail of two worlds clashing – and a haunting moral puzzle that no reader will forget.

Selected for 'Best books of the year' lists by Ali Smith, Colm Tóibín, Matt Condon, Peter Carey, Salon.com, The Globe & Mail and Dwight Garner in The New York Times.

'The country's finest work of literature so far this century. A haunting moral maze, described with such intimate observation and exquisite restraint that I kept pausing to take a breath and silently cheer the author ... [I]n her tale of the fatal collision between two 36-year-old males, black Cameron Doomadgee and white Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, Hooper ... has produced an Australian classic.' Robert Drewe, The Age

'Hooper followed the case and its main characters for two and a half years, and she does their complexity a remarkable justice ... Extraordinary.' Alison McCulloch, New York Times Book Review

'A gripping, heart-stopping piece of true-crime reportage ... Deserves the widest possible audience.' Brian Schofield, Sunday Times (UK)

  • Pub date: 9 September 2009
  • ISBN: 9780143010661
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $24.99

About the Author

Chloe Hooper

Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island (2008) won the Victorian, New South Wales, West Australian and Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, as well as the John Button Prize for Political Writing, and a Ned Kelly Award for crime writing. She is also the author of two novels, A Child’s Book of True Crime and The Engagement.

Also by Chloe Hooper

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Praise for The Tall Man

“Ms. Hooper tells this story carefully and ingeniously, constantly turning it over to explore new facets. She sees the world through alert, appraising eyes.”

New York Times

“Hooper followed the case and its main characters for two and a half years, and she does their complexity a remarkable justice.”

New York Times

“A compelling human story.”

Sydney Morning Herald

“With a fine-tuned curiosity, a probing capacity to interpret people and their motives and an at times forensic yet lyrical attention to detail, Hooper has written a confronting and perplexing tale.”

Adelaide Advertiser

“Observant, acute and compassionate ... It would have been easy for Hooper to make The Tall Man a simple story of apparent injustice. Always, however, she favours nuance over cliché, context over judgement ... While absorbed in the back and white of guilt or innocence, Hooper is also drawn to the grey.”

Time Australia

“She constructs in painful detail how the lives of two 34-year-old Australian men collided, with tragic results ... Her spare but polished narrative, through understatement and detail, gathers force like a river after rain ... It's a rich vein for a writer and few could mine it better. A rising star.”

Andrew Rule, Sunday Age

“[Hooper's] ambition - and achievement - is breathtaking.”

Morag Fraser, The Age

“The north has chosen to reveal itself to Chloe Hooper.”

Paul Toohey, Weekend Australian

“The Tall Man follows in the tradition of classic non-fiction novels like Truman Capote's In Cold Blood as Hooper brings lyrical power to actual events. The result is a real life Heart of Darkness in the Australian badlands.”

Time Out Sydney

“Hooper tells this story masterfully, and her perfect pacing keeps the pages turning.”

Sunday Telegraph

“Riveting.”

Courier Mail

“The book is everything it should be: a sad, beautiful, frightening account of one man's pointless death, interwoven with the brutal history of Palm Island and a golden thread of Aboriginal mythology. Every sentence is weighed, considered, even, restrained. Every character is explored for their contradictions, every situation observed for its nuances, every easy judgement suspended. Hooper has a feeling for the intimacy of violence, the fragility of the flesh, the tawdry inevitability of corruption, the fathomless depth of loss ... It is The Tall Man's triumph that Hooper finds the common humanity in the accused and the accuser, the police officer and the street drinker, the living and the dead. It's Australia's good fortune that Boe found Hooper to shadow him.”

Mark Dapin, Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald

“If this woman is a mesmerising novelist, she also has the nerve and the passion of a serious journalist. She is the antipodean Joan Didion, the Truman Capote of our times.”

Alice Nelson, Western Australian

“It is beautifully written and is an extraordinary picture of not only the events themselves, but of something unresolved at the heart of Australia society.”

Judy Horacek, The Week

“The north has chosen to reveal itself to Chloe Hooper.”

Paul Toohey, Weekend Australian


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