The Curate's Egg - Tom Percy QC

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The Curate's Egg - Tom Percy QC
ISBN: 9781925043655
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About the Author

Tom Percy QC, born in Kalgoorlie, works mainly in Perth in challenging and complex criminal cases. He won the Law Society of WA's Community Service Award and the WA Civil Justice Award from the Australian Lawyers Alliance, and the WA Lawyer of the Year Award for 2013. He used to be State President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance and then became the National Director. Percy is a columnist with The Sunday Times and has a regular morning radio segment. He is also a prominent musician and songwriter, performing regularly around Perth. He is an active supporter of football, horse and greyhound racing, and cricket, a board member of the WACA and East Perth Football Club, and the Patron of the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Race Club. He's also a long-suffering member of the Fremantle Football Club.


Legend has it that an ambitious young curate was once asked to have breakfast with the Bishop. The Bishop noticed that the Curate was having difficulty eating his boiled egg (which was in fact rotten) and inquired of the Curate as whether anything was wrong with it. The Curate responded by saying that there wasn’t, and that it was in fact "quite good in parts".

In the heady climate of the year 2000 Perth, Western Australia is on the cusp of a remarkable resources boom. Times are good, and things move quickly.

Unassuming 34 year old accountant turned mining analyst Declan McKenna has a thriving one-man business and is sought out by numerous mining companies looking to float on the Stock Exchange.

McKenna has always considered himself both a reputable and moral person, albeit without any pretensions to sainthood.

His girlfriend (former teacher turned interior designer) Andrea Baxter is a quiet and withdrawn girl. Prior to taking up with McKenna she had a chequered past and was the victim of a number of personal disasters none of which were her fault.

After meeting some years previously in the WA county town of Albany where they were both then working, they are drawn apart, after spending two tumultuous nights together, they do not see or hear from each other (it being her wish) for some years.

They are, however, suddenly and unexpectedly re-united a few years later and immediately become a committed couple living in inner suburban Perth. For a short time all seems well before events generally take a turn for the worse, in numerous respects.

One weekend on a working trip to Sydney promoting a new mining float Onan Resources, however, McKenna’s life changes forever. The float is sponsored by a client/friend of McKenna’s, Domenic Montagne, an ebullient Perth accountant, bon vivant and would be entrepreneur.

An unexpected and uncharacteristic tryst with the fiery and demanding mining journalist Catherine deVaux, (also working in Sydney that week) turns into a situation from which McKenna finds it difficult, despite his best endeavours, to extricate himself.

Alluring, intelligent, streetwise and focused, deVaux is also a solid drinker, smoker and a gambler. Her ability to cover the Onan story in whatever light she chooses give her a power over McKenna that make him very uneasy and more vulnerable to her advances.

A similar chance meeting (that same weekend) with an Indonesian investor Yousseff who is keen to make a killing on the upcoming Onan Float and who sees McKenna as his fall guy if anything goes wrong in that regard, has unforeseen but far reaching consequences.

McKenna returns to Perth quickly as a result of Andrea having been involved in a serious car accident. He is wracked with remorse and guilt in relation to his indiscretion with deVaux which is accentuated by the dreadful injuries she has suffered in the accident.

As Andrea makes her recovery McKenna struggles with the persistent overtures from deVaux, who uses issues concerning the Onan float as a lever to coerce McKenna to see her. Liaisons occur in a seedy suburban Irish bar and inevitably leave McKenna even more consumed with guilt and remorse.

There is a serious problem with the Onan float. On the day it lists, it goes ballistic, and unprecedented demand sees the share price reach levels not known of since the days of the Poseidon boom of the late 1960’s. Obviously something is wrong and the authorities suspend trading. The company has disclosed nothing sensational in its prospectus, and it appears someone must know something about its prospects that are not yet in the public arena.

With internal corruption being the obvious cause, or so it is thought,

McKenna and Montagne are eventually arrested; wrongly charged over an allegation of insider trading. It seems the architect of the case is Yousseff, who has accepted an indemnity from the prosecution to give evidence against the promoters.

The circumstances of the arrest, initial incarceration before bail is granted, and the first Court appearance, have a salutary effect on McKenna, who is, in addition to being consumed by the problems confronting him, increasingly and deeply questioning his worth and whether his own former assessment of himself as a good person has generally been mistaken.

The other impetus behind the prosecution seems to be Detective Sergeant Des Farrell, who had been responsible for Andrea’s problems in Albany in her previous existence as a teacher. As both the head of the Catholic School Board and the local CIB, Farrell had blackmailed her into a position as his unwilling mistress until she was finally able to summon the courage to leave the town and return to her parent’s farm in NSW.

Farrell’s past involvement in some disturbing activities during his earlier years in the Police Force start to emerge as deVaux begins to unravel the circumstances of her father’s death.

Her late father was a well-known been bookmaker, Dave deVaux, who died at Ascot racecourse at the height of the Perth Cup meeting some years previously in questionable circumstances. Fortuitously McKenna had been present at the track and witnessed his death.

Unsatisfied with his initial advice from one of Perth’s top silks in relation to the Court case, McKenna curiously opts to take advice from Wellington, a crusty old criminal lawyer from Albany whom McKenna knew from his time down there; renown for having an uncanny knack of finding an unconventional angle to any prosecution.

Montagne treats the Wellington idea as a joke until he (at McKenna’s insistence and against his will) meets him in Albany and is thereafter keen to retain him on the case as their lawyer.

On Wellington’s suggestion, a private investigator and ex-policeman, Coombes, is retained to investigate the genesis of the unaccountable demand for the Onan stock, and the trail leads back to an obscure assay laboratory in Kalgoorlie, and some clues start to emerge, and paths cross.

The Curate’s Egg traces the juggernaut course of McKenna’s struggle with his conscience, deVaux, Andrea, and the Court case, through to a frantic and bewildering final climax in Bali in 2001.

Whilst the story is complete at the end of the Bali episode, obviously there is more to come.

The parallel with the parable of the Curate’s Egg is complete by the conclusion of the novel, but its ramifications far from completely resolved.

ISBN: 9781925043655
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 8 December 2021
Country of Publication: AU