WA crime ficiton author Robert Schofield.

As a consultant structural engineer for a service company, Robert Schofield is more familiar than most city dwellers with tensions in the North West.

It's this understanding he brings to a fine portrayal of the uneasy truce between fly-in, fly-out workers, local people and Chinese conglomerate grunt-men.

Schofield's Marble Bar is the second book in the Gareth Ford series and chases his debut last year, Heist.

Ford is now a single parent who has moved on from the Goldfields to WA's other big mining area, the Pilbara.

Ford is penny-pinching after his wife Diane's betrayal in the Gwardar Gold Heist, and is working at a mine near Newman while staying close to back-up in town as he cares for daughter Grace.

But the shadow of his ex-partner's machinations soon becomes evident when his ute-loving housemate is murdered in their company house.

State police gold squad ally Rose Kavanagh comes to Ford's rescue after he is detained at the local police station for questioning.

It's a reunion to reward readers who hoped the lean but loyal investigator would be the one Ford wouldn't let get away.

Schofield says his publisher pushed for a resolution to the tension between the pair.

While Marble Bar picks up where Heist left off last year, the book works well as a stand-alone read.

Marble Bar, the hottest town in Australia, is the scene for a showdown, with the distinctive Ironclad Hotel a party to the action.

The author has painted a vivid cast of characters, exploring racial tensions in mining while providing action between the sheets.

Schofield says the series he started writing in a donga was inspired by a collection of stories he had picked up over the years, mostly from chats at the pub.

"Everyone has got great stories," he says.

Schofield is planning a return to the north and will be among the headline acts at the Corrugated Lines literary festival in Broome this Friday to Sunday.

For details, see www.facebook.com/CorrugatedLines.

The West Australian

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