Dorothy Johnston






Wakefield Press. This edition published Jan 2000
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill

It is 1995 and Sandra Mahoney has recently returned to work after an absence of several years. Her job is to compile a database comparing the wages of female outworkers with those in the formalised workforce. Her son Peter is now six years old and is at school full time. Her husband is in the U.S.A for a year with his job.

What Sandra isn't expecting is that soon after starting her new job in the Department of Industrial relations, the woman who hired her (Rae) is charged with theft and computer fraud. Nearly a million dollars is found to have been sent to a company given a grant for one hundred thousand. Rae was a friend of Sandra's late mother and Sandra feels that perhaps Rae is a convenient scapegoat.

THE TROJAN DOG isn't what could be called a traditional page-turner. The author Dorothy Johnston allows things to unfold at their own pace. We get to know the people who work with Sandra and we learn about Sandra's life. Johnston isn't one to spoon feed information, either. Readers are left to make up their own minds about a few things. As a result of this, I found it took me a little time to get into the story. The tradeoff, however, is in Johnston's writing. She uses phrases and descriptions that you find turning over in your mind and savouring.

Johnston also captures very well the lethargy overtaking a government department prior to a change of Government when in all likelihood all the jobs will be abolished.

The TROJAN DOG was joint winner of Australian Capital Territory Book of the Year 2001, runner-up in the inaugural Davitt Award for the best crime novel published by a woman in 2000, and The Age Best of 2000, crime section (courtesy of the author's website,

Jan 2008 review originally published on Murder and Mayhem


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