Perth, 1899: a respected public servant mistakes a bottle of cyanide for his heart medicine, swallows it and dies. Months later on the other side of the country, a prisoner of Pentridge gaol with the same name as the deceased reads of the inquest with alarm. He writes to the coroner with his suspicions: the supposedly upstanding government accountant was an impostor – an ex-con – who had stolen his identity and deceived people at the highest level.
The claims sent the authorities into a spin; who really was the deceased? Was it possible he was the bushranger known as ‘Captain Starlight’ who, thirty years earlier, had callously murdered a policeman and been sentenced to hang? How had he pulled off the subterfuge and what other secrets remained hidden? As the investigation unfolds, the remarkable life and crimes of Captain Starlight, committed across four states of Australia under countless aliases, are revealed.
Author Jane Smith’s meticulous research reveals the stranger than fiction story of a compulsive liar and serial imposter: a doctor, a stockman and an accountant – and a bushranger, forger, con-man and killer. It is a true story of murder and deceit that reveals new information and presents, for the first time, a theory as to the real identity of the bushranger known as ‘Captain Starlight’.