Jill Fitzpatrick is a 28-year-old lesbian struggling to find both a relationship and work as a private investigator. When she accepts a job investigating the disappearance of a young female university student named Mickey, she soon meets the girl's poetry lecturer, the seductive Diana. The discovery of Mickey's strangled body sees the case taken over by the police, but the girl's grief-stricken parents implore Jill to help find the murderer. As the inquiry leads Jill towards a passionate liaison with Diana, she finds herself also entering the seamy underworld of Mickey's intimate life. The search soon begins to raise more questions than answers. For whom did Mickey write her sexually charged poems and what is the connection between Mickey and her two favourite poets? As Jill digs deeper, threatening messages in verse are left on her answering machine. Blinded by her passion, Jill is compromised in her search for the truth--until her own life is in danger.
Epigraph: Year after year / On the monkey's face / A monkey's mask. Basho
'What do you want a poet for?' / 'To save the City, of course.' Aristophanes
You see these grey hairs? Well, making whoopee with the intelligentsia was the way I earned them. Dorothy Parker
'Literature is a reflection of the culture that spawns it. As a queer teenager growing up in Sydney’s outer western suburbs, my access to literature was limited to the books we had at home—airport novels—and the small collection at my high school library, mostly classics. So far as I knew, old white men wrote books; Ruth Park, Ursula Le Guin, Virginia Andrews and Danielle Steele were the exceptions.' (Introduction)
‘In human reckoning, Golden Ages are always already in the past. The Greek poet Hesiod, in Works and Days, posited Five Ages of Mankind: Golden, Silver, Bronze, Heroic and Iron (Ovid made do with four). Writing in the Romantic period, Thomas Love Peacock (author of such now almost forgotten novels as Nightmare Abbey, 1818) defined The Four Ages of Poetry (1820) in which their order was Iron, Gold, Silver and Bronze. To the Golden Age, in their archaic greatness, belonged Homer and Aeschylus. The Silver Age, following it, was less original, but nevertheless 'the age of civilised life'. The main issue of Peacock's thesis was the famous response that he elicited from his friend Shelley - Defence of Poetry (1821).’ (Publication abstract)