The Trojan Dog
November 27, 2012 — 21:51

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The Trojan Dog was joint winner, ACT book of the year, and runner-up in the inaugural Davitt Award. The Age gave it their ‘Best of 2000, crime section’

‘I should ask your department’s accountant whether he’s missing $900,000.’

This is the anonymous message that will change Sandra Mahoney’s life.

When a powerful but unpopular bureaucrat is accused of theft and computer fraud, Sandra is convinced that the charge is false. But how to track down the culprit when almost anyone could be an enemy? In her search for the truth, Sandra finds herself in a battle of wits against an elusive and unscrupulous opponent, a battle in which no-one’s allegiance can be taken for granted.

Sandra has gone back to work in a government department after several years of casual work, and time spent looking after her son Peter. She’s chosen her own job over the chance for a year in America with her husband, Derek.

‘I’m a wife on pause,’ she tells her new colleague, Ivan Semyonov. Ivan is an eccentric member of the IT staff, who steals Sandra’s pot plant in order to make a digital copy of it, and return it to her as a gift.

In spite of this, Sandra and Ivan become friends. Their friendship is helped along by Ivan’s affection for Peter, and his willingness to help Peter with his reading problem.

Evans is suspended and quickly isolated. No-one takes her side, but Sandra is convinced she’s innocent. Hesitantly at first, she sets out to try and track the money through a grant to a women’s computer self-help outfit, and to find out who has the strongest motive for theft.

An unlikely source of help comes from Detective Sergeant Brook, ill with leukemia, but hanging onto his job with the police. After Sandra is involved in a bad car accident, Brook is given her ‘case’. In spite of his scepticism, he becomes keen to solve it.

The Trojan Dog is a subtle absorbing piece about an ordinary woman who is deeply affected by what she uncovers in others and herself. Johnston is an exceptionally good writer.’ (The Age)

The Trojan Dog was published in the United States by St Martins Press. Here is what two reviewers said about the America edition.

‘A delightful protagonist, a fabulous support cast who make the office seem real, and a fantastic look at Canberra.’ (Harriet Klausner: MBR Bookwatch)

Johnston’s literary, character-driven crime debut explores white collar corruption as well as a modern woman’s personal transformation.’ (Publishers Weekly)