Monasteries and gaols: David Foster reflects that during the course of his life the monasteries have emptied while the gaols are doing nicely. Set in Goulburn and its surrounds, where Foster resides, The Contemptuary is a lament for a dying faith, a commentary on prison life and, perhaps unexpectedly from Foster in this, his sixteenth novel, an unputdownable whodunnit. 'Attempt to characterise Foster's writing and eventually one will run out of adjectives. There is simply no one remotely like him in contemporary Australian fiction. He is so far ahead of everyone else that it's not funny.'