Cover image for The price of an orphan
The price of an orphan
Carlon, Patricia, 1927-2002.
Publication Information:
New York : Soho Press, 1999.

Physical Description:
190 pages ; 20 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London : Hodder & Stoughton ; c1964.
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Nine-year-old Johnnie, an orphan from the city, has recently been placed with Stuart and Kay Heath, who live in the Australian outback on Quidong Station, a cattle ranch they run for its wealthy owner. But Johnnie is not quite the foster child they had in mind; in Kay's opinion he is "cheeky and lazy, cowardly and stubborn." So when he claims to have witnessed a murder, they remind him of the boy who cried wolf. Finally, he admits he was lying. Johnnie is about to be sent back to the orphanage when he and Kay are invited on a camping trip. A special treat to give Johnnie another chance to adjust to life in the outback? Or a cunning trap?

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Readers who shared in the discovery of Carlon's outstanding Crime of Silence [BKL O 15 98], first published in the U.S. many years after its debut in Australia, will be thrilled to find another jewel here. Also published in the 1960s in Australia, this one shares with Crime of Silence an original, highly creative plot and a cast of utterly compelling characters. The action centers on Johnnie, an obnoxious and miserable nine-year-old child who comes to live with Kay and Stuart Heath on a cattle ranch in the Australian outback. When Johnnie witnesses a murder, he can't get anyone to believe him, but the murderer isn't taking any chances. Soon the boy must try to outwit a devious killer before he becomes the next victim. Carlon is a major talent who deserves a much wider audience. --Jenny McLarin

Publisher's Weekly Review

Offering a thrilling glimpse into the Australian outback, the fifth title by Aussie author Carlon (Crime of Silence) to be published here by Soho brims with suspense. Kay and Stuart Heath's nine-year-old foster son, Johnnie, is a troublemaker, with a penchant for spinning tall tales. When he brags about witnessing the murder of an unknown woman in a red dress, Kay and Stuart, who manage the Quidong cattle ranch, are reluctant to believe him, assuming that his story is merely another example of the boy who cried wolf. Eventually, Johnnie decides to say he's been fibbing, figuring that once he's reunited with his birth father, the two of them can investigate and find the owner of the license plates Johnnie discovered at the crime scene and later hid. Kay and Stuart, seeking to work on their marriage and their relationship with Johnnie, bring their son along as they accompany the ranch's owner on a camping trip to the wild brush. The familial retreat becomes a life-threatening hostage situation when the murderer's true identity is revealed. Johnnie and Kay are left at the will of this cold-blooded, ruthless killer, as countless chances of being saved come and go. Carlon's struggling, sharply drawn characters provoke sustained interest in their fates; her evocation of tough Johnnie's hidden loneliness is especially poignant. Her usual assured prose and expert pacing will lure readers deeply into her tale, from its mysterious opening to its nail-biting conclusion. Agency, John Johnson. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved