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Not all murder victims are mourned, but the perpetrator must always be punished . . .

For Robert Church, superintendent of the Parramatta Female Factory, the most enjoyable part of his job is access to young convict women. Inmate Grace O’Leary has made it her mission to protect the women from his nocturnal visits and when Church is murdered with an awl thrust through his right eye, she becomes the chief suspect.

Recently arrived from Port Macquarie, ticket-of-leave gentleman convict Hugh Monsarrat now lives in Parramatta with his ever-loyal housekeeper Mrs Mulrooney. Monsarrat, as an unofficial advisor on criminal and legal matters to the governor’s secretary, is charged with uncovering the truth of Church’s murder. Mrs Mulrooney accompanies him to the Female Factory, where he is taking depositions from prisoners, including Grace, and there the housekeeper strikes up friendships with certain women, which prove most intriguing.

Monsarrat and Mrs Mulrooney both believe that Grace is innocent, but in this they are alone, so to exonerate her they must find the murderer. Many hated Church and are relieved by his death, but who would go as far as killing him?


The Keneallys have hit their straps with this Monsarrat outing. The climax is violent and disorienting. Executions have punctuated Keneally’s historical novels and here we have another, for all that it is a dupe who hangs. The Unmourned concludes with Monsarrat being summoned again with news of his dispatch — on high tide the next day — to Van Diemen’s Land, ‘‘as remote as it was possible to be, dangling off the edge of the world as it did’’. The third instalment of Monsarrat’s dangerous tour of the convict settlements of Australia can be anticipated with relish.

Peter Pierce, The Australian

This reader has already become very fond of the main protagonist Monsarrat, and his sharp witted housekeeper Mrs Hannah Mulrooney, and looks forward to their continuing crime-solving adventures. The charms of this series lie in its fast-paced delivery, deep backgrounds of the main characters and vivid description of life in the penal colonies.

Belinda Coombs, Limelight

As in the best historical crime series, archival evidence provides the structure for a story that riffs on a history that is also poignantly personal. There is, as Monsarrat and Mrs Mulrooney discover, much more at stake than murder. Not surprisingly given its origins, this is a series that takes social justice very seriously.

Sue Turnbull, The Canberra Times

With The Unmourned, the second of the Monsarrat Series, Meg and Tom Keneally are well into their stride. I look forward to the follow up.

Sonia Lee, Gleebooks Gleaner

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    February 27, 2017

    Vintage Australia

    336 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

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

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    February 27, 2017

    RHA eBooks Adult

    336 pages

    Online retailers

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

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au


Parramatta, November 1825

He really must do something about that door, he thought as he crossed the yard back to his quarters. Its top hinge was a little loose and the resulting scrape woke the women. What transpired after he entered generally woke them anyway, but there was a moment he relished, the blank wall of their combined unconsciousness, none of them with any awareness yet of what was about to happen to whichever sleeping body was the focus of his current interest.

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The Unmourned

Travel into Australia’s darkest past with Meg and Tom Keneally’s The Unmourned.

The Factory Women

Research for The Unmourned led Meg Keneally into Australia’s brutal past.

The Unmourned Crossword

Settle down with a cup of eight down and test your skills. 

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