In "Death of an Old Goat" Robert Barnard gives a witty detective story in an academic setting as well as a satisfying plot.
There's a wonderful cast of ignoble characters including nasty back-biting academics, ignorant prejudiced graziers (sheep barons), and Inspector Royle who at one point declares he doesn't have to catch THE murderer, just A murderer. Imagine RCMP Sgt Dudley Dooright with his moral compass reversed 180 degrees and his IQ halved -- that's Inspector Royle. The mystery takes second place to the satirical portrayals of the characters and what they reveal about Australian life. The primary character is probably the rural Australian psyche itself, and the individuals are all variations on that theme.
The mystery itself is puzzling but hardly suspenseful, and the solution to the crime is anti-climatic -- until the splendid kicker of the final paragraph. This book is an extremely funny satire.
It also gives a very close up and personal look at University life "down under". And the fun doesn't stop right up until the very last words. Barnard pokes fun at all kinds of golden age mystery writers, and his Royle creation is absolutely wonderful.
Read this book for a good laugh, and the mystery isn't bad either. It is wickedly funny!
Who on earth murdered elderly visiting professor Belville-Smith? His first lecture at Drummondale University was bad, but it wasn't THAT bad. An hilarious send-up of both Australia and university life.