Mystery Road, Episode 1, ‘Gone’

2019 - Shortlisted


Judges' comments 

When two young Jackaroos disappear on a remote cattle station, local Sergeant Emma James enlists Indigenous detective Jay Swan to investigate. Adapted from two Ivan Sen features, ‘Gone’ is the opening episode of the Mystery Road television drama series. O’Brien’s script captures a close-knit outback community riddled with rivalries, shady allegiances and dark secrets which Jay must uncover. As evidence of foul play starts to mount up, Jay and Emma battle their mutual suspicion to hunt for answers.

Muscular, cinematic and acutely observed, O’Brien’s script plunges the reader inside the multi-racial, tension-ridden landscape of contemporary rural Australia; skilfully embedding a compelling crime mystery within a broader narrative around colonialism and dispossession. Populating a suspenseful plot with complex characters and sparse but evocative dialogue, O’Brien has constructed a powerful and unique take on the TV crime genre, delivering a historically resonant and utterly riveting read.