Payback is a novel involving a thrilling manhunt, capture and bringing to justice of a dangerous criminal, traversing areas of Norther Territory, near Alice Springs, Cape York in Northern Queensland and South Africa and Botswana. It also raises the ethical conflict between tribal justice and the white man’s jury trial. If made properly, it would make a great movie.
Cory Calbert, an Aboriginal of mixed blood who looks white but thinks Aboriginal is a very successful lawyer in Parramatta. He originally comes from a little settlement called Santa Maria, north of Alice Springs near Gruber’s Gully, an American spy station where his relatives still lived.
One morning in 1976 he is informed by the Alice Springs Police that his relatives have all been slaughtered. He flies to the Alice and has a chance meeting with Martin Hogan, an ex ASIO man who had been seconded to Gruber’s Gully. He knew the perpetrator of the crime. He was an ultra racist called Burt Benson who was a CIA agent. When Martin realised that nothing was going to happen to Benson, he resigned in disgust. Martin tells Cory of what he knows and they decide to bring Benson to justice. Cory was keen to keep his promise to some elders of his tribe that he would catch the killer and bring him to them.
The story is set in 1976 because of the intrigue created by the rumours that the CIA was involved in the Whitlam sacking. Also crocodile hunting had just been made illegal.
When he was being taken to Langley, USA for punishment, Benson made his escape to Cape York from Darwin. He met up with his homosexual Australian friend, Bruce Caulkin at Weipa and went up the Embley River to illegally hunt crocodiles for their skin. In their search for Benson, Cory and Martin finally track him to Weipa and then to the upper reaches of the Embley River where their enquiries had suggested Benson would be. Eventually they find Benson and Bruce. They capture them and were bringing them back to justice when in a scuffle on the boat on the Embly, Benson’s friend falls into the river and is taken by a croc while Benson makes good his escape. He returns to Weipa, charters a small plane to Darwin and using his many disguises eventually escapes out of Australia to South Africa where he has many friends. He goes to a white racist camp called the Viljoen Camp, near a small town called Rustenburg north of Johannesburg. Cory and Martin eventually track him to the Viljoen camp with the help of some local friends. Martin is killed in the capture of Benson who is kidnapped and brought back to Australia by Cory and one of his South African friends on a cargo plane via Zambia.
The action filled story eventually reaches its climax at Kellyville, a neighbouring settlement to Santa Maria. There is high drama as the dilemma whether Benson will be speared to death in payback or get a jury trial is played out. Whilst the story is basically an action drama, it also carries the less obvious theme that there can be a successful and well adjusted person who is equally at home with both the white and the Aboriginal cultures.
Izaz Khan was born in Fiji. He attended 2 years of High School at Mt Carmel College Charters Towers, Queensland. He did a BA at UQLD. He has an LLB from UNSW and an LLM from Sydney University. He is the author of a novel called Chainbreaker which is set in Fiji. He has been a barrister at 13th Floor, Selborne Chambers, 174 Phillip Street, Sydney 2000 since 1980.
If you are interested please contact Izaz via:
Phone: 0418 430803