The Night Dragon by Matthew Condon

The Night Dragon tells of how Maryborough girl Barbara McCulkin and her two young daughters were murdered by Vincent O’Dempsey and how he was sentenced to life in prison for the crime in 2017. Condon paints the story from the start “Barbara, who had grown up in the country town of Maryborough, Queensland, was not only coming to terms with motherhood in a strange town, but had started wondering about the man she’d married…Since living with Billy, she had learned in no uncertain terms that he liked a drink, could be violent, and that he mixed in unsavoury company.” Little Barbara May drove her brothers mad with her tap dancing and was the only daughter of James Gardiner and May Alice Ogden. She and her brothers Neville, Barry and Graham lived in an old Queenslander in Pallas Street. Barbara’s mother was often hospitalised after contracting tuberculosis. Despite this difficulty, Barbara worked at King’s Café and had a wicked sense of humour. Condon weaves the tale of how she fell for Billy, got mixed up in a very shady crowd which resulted in her and her daughters’ murders. On 16 January 1974 Barbara (34) and her daughters 13-year-old Vicki and 11-year-old Leanne disappeared. Condon meticulously details the reason for the crime, the process used to get justice and an outcome. This book is difficult to put down.

The Night Dragon
Published: 2019

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