O'Connor's Last Stand (Post 76)
In honour of St Patrick's Day post 76 is O'Connor's Last Stand, first published as an epub CD in 2000 and reissued as an ebook and paperback in 2009.
The O'Connor of the title is Flynn O'Connor, an Irishman hiding out in an outback cave as he waits for his lover who is running away from her abuser to join him. He's been waiting for some time, as in the late 19th Century communications are necessarily slow and limited. All he knows is she will join him when she can.
Anna Bell is jillarooing on an old friend's outback property. That's her cover story, anyway. In reality she is Annabel Falmouth, who has witnessed something she shouldn't and is now hiding out from a man named Jackson. A sandstorm blows up while Annabel is out riding the boundaries. She is camping at a place called O'Connor's Leap, a rock formation with a spooky reputation. Annabel loses her sense of direction, and, separated from her horse, falls through a rock chimney on the leap, landing on a pile of sheepskins. She is knocked out, and wakes to find herself tended by a softly-spoken Irishman. Since they both have secrets and each has a good reason to stay out of sight, they share the cave for a while. Little by little, Flynn O'Connor reveals his story to Annabel, but she is troubled when he can't tell her how long he's been waiting. He fears something has happened to his lady while his memory has been playing tricks, so they decide to walk to the nearest settlement. They set out in the cook of night, but as they move from the environs of the cave, Flynn becomes ill and disoriented. Eventually the sun rises and reveals a terrible truth.
"Sunrise,’ [Annabel] said, and the aureate light was at once a promise and a threat.
She lifted her hand slowly, and her shadow did the same, stretching out as if it might touch the ends of the earth. She glanced at Flynn’s shadow, which must be taller and more impressive than her own, but whatever she might have said was stillborn on her lips, for Flynn O’Connor had no shadow at all.
[Flynn] saw Annabel’s shadow fly out from her, saw it gesture gracefully. His burning eyes shifted to his feet where there was no matching pool of blackness.
The hair on his scalp seemed to be trying to rise, and he was struck by the ludicrous humour of that; hair that was dust and thought itself still alive.
Hair that was dust, a frame that cast no shadow, eyes that could not bear the brilliance of the day. A body that could suffer grievous blows without damage, that grew no beard, wore out no leather and needed no sustenance to sustain it. Eyes that saw truths beyond the daylight, but had been closed to the greatest truth of all.
Flynn O’Connor knew that he was dead.
Flynn understands his situation at last, and realises he can't exist beyond the confines of O'Connor's Leap. He returns to that place while Annabel goes on, determined to discover the truth about her strange friend. That's not the last drama for this pair, because while Flynn's past eludes him Annabel's catches up with a literal bang leading to the last stand of the title.
O'Connor's Last Stand is a murder mystery, a thriller, a ghost story and even a romance, and includes some of my favourite themes; musing on time, identity, shadows of family, history and what I always considered a logical twist at the end. Mind you, I was pleased with myself for finding it!
The picture above is the paperback/ebook. The original CD had the cover shown below.
About the Blog
Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)
The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist.