In November 1916, just a few years after Federation and while Australia was at war in Europe, Hazel Hood, the beautiful 18-year-old daughter of a Riverina grazier, went to a local dance and never came home. Her mysterious disappearance caused a sensation in the district around the pioneer settlement of Wakool Crossing, near the Victoria–New South Wales border.
The mystery further intensified when, a week later, Hazel’s body — still clothed in her white party dress — was recovered from the Wakool river with a mark of violence upon her head, and her silk scarf tied tightly around her neck. Her disappearance was reported in major daily newspapers as far afield as Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, but the mystery of what happened to her was never fully explained.
As a child in the Mallee in the 1950s, Mike Richards was told the story of Hazel Hood’s tragic disappearance by his grandmother, Hazel’s elder sister, who firmly believed she had been murdered. Now, almost 100 years after her death, the author takes us with him as he seeks to unravel the mystery and reveal the truth about what happened to Hazel Hood — an unassuming, fun-loving, and caring girl, and a favourite in the district.