August 1879. Christchurch is in the grip of election fever and the excitement generated by the visiting Lowry Opera Company. Then a body is discovered in the Heathcote River.
Enveloped in the intrigue and horror caused by this grisly find is a complex cast of characters, each driven by spectres from the past, sexual desires or private delusions. Through their midst stalks the austere, enigmatic police detective Sergeant O'Rorke, ex-Pinkerton man and outsider, who is driven by his own inflexible moral imperatives. And in the background are the unruly mobs of the polling day riots and the politely cultured leaders of 'Society'. The Opawa Affair is a story of obsessions, illusions and hypocrisy. It is both a Victorian murder-mystery melodrama and a comedy of nineteenth century colonial manners, complex in construction and ironical in tone.
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