dragons at the party

Title: Dragons at the Party (Scobie Malone #4)

Author: Jon Cleary

Reader: Shaun Grindell

Category: Mystery

Audio published: May 1, 2013 by AudioGo (first published 1987)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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Purchase: AudioGo

It is Bicentenary year and Australia is having the party of its lifetime. Detective Inspector Scobie Malone, hero of three previous Cleary books and the most human of cops, would much rather be out on Sydney Harbor with his family, watching the fun. Instead he is on duty, investigating the murder of an aide to President Timori, who has just arrived unwanted in Australia following a coup in the Spice Islands republic of Palucca. With Timori is his glamorous wife, Delvina, a lady as famous for her extravagance as for her lust for power. Clearly the bullet was meant for the President, and Malone has the task of tracking down the hit man before he takes a second shot. Malone identifies the would-be assassin as Miguel Seville, an international terrorist now turned contract man, a tired killer who wants to retire and needs the money from this job to achieve his aim. Malone also suspects that Seville is in contact with a young Aboriginal rights activist. But who is paying Seville, and why? Prime Minister Philip Norval, ex-TV star who is lost without his advisors, turns out to be an old flame of Delvina’s from the days when she was a dancer in Sydney. Business tycoon Russell Hickbed, though a reluctant host to the Timoris, has his own reasons for wanting President Timori protected. And interfering in the case at every opportunity is Hans Vaderberg, Premier of the state of New South Wales, political enemy of Prime Minister Norval, and master of every political trick ever devised.


Dragons at the Party was a decent cat-and-mouse thriller, but I was a little disappointed in the killer. I love the title, though, if fits the book so well. This is the first I’ve listened to in the series and felt it stood alone well.

Setting: It’s 1988 in Sydney, Australia. The country is celebrating its bicentennial but at the same time deposed dictator, President Timori has arrived in town with an assassin on his trail. I really felt like I was in Australia, between the celebrations, the bush fires outside of town, the phrasing and the tension between different ethnic groups made it feel like the story as a whole could only take place there, not another capital.

Main Characters: Scobie Malone is our series detective but he’s basically a good guy, decent as his wife would say, not dark tormenting secrets, no addiction, no tendencies toward being the lone wolf. He is honest and doesn’t play into the politics of the position, which can be difficult. He’s a family man, and I did get a little tired of hearing him wish he wasn’t always disappointing them.

I though Seville was rather weak. He’s an world-renowned assassin, but seems fairly incompetent and easily flustered. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies, or maybe the fictional assassin has changed some since ’88, but he was not the calm. detached professional I expected.

Plot: The mystery isn’t who’s trying to kill Timori, it’s who is paying him, but when you’re talking about heads of state, even former ones, political toes can get stepped on. It’s a good chase, Scobie trying to catch Seville and figure out who hired him before Timori ends u dead. The ending I thought was well-done. It was the kind I like, not all tied up with a pretty ribbon.

Reader: Shaun Grindell may not be Australian, but he sounded it here. Well, at least I think he did, I don’t know if I’ve ever actually hear anyone from Australia speak. His voice took me a chapter or two to get used to, but once I did, it fit the story well.

Recommendation: Not great, not bad. I’ll probably listen to more in the series.

Scobie Malone Mystery

  1. The High Commissioner
  2. Helga’s Web
  3. Ransom
  4. Dragons at the Party
  5. Now and Then, Amen
  6. Babylon South
  7. Murder Song
  8. Pride’s Harvest
  9. Dark Summer
  10. Bleak Spring
  11. Autumn Maze
  12. Winter Chill
  13. A Different Turf
  14. Endpeace
  15. Five-Ring Circus
  16. Dilemma
  17. The Bear Pit
  18. Yesterday’s Shadow
  19. The Easy Sin
  20. Degrees of Connection


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