Mosquito Creek by Robert Engwerda

Set in 1855 Mosquito Creek is the recounting of several (fictional) tales whose threads the author has draped throughout the book, pulling them slowly together until the denouement is complete.

The goldfields are vivid on the page; the sodden clay is left clinging to your feet up to your ankles as you turn each page, the constant dampening drizzle is easily felt down the back of a collar trickling it's despondency downwards towards the never dry boots, dragging spirits with it.
The tiny sliver of hope that gold fever wrought is no longer found in this group of miners who are grateful for the distraction and employment of their talents when the Commissioner decides to build a boat to rescue the diggers trapped on a new island with the sudden rising of the river; but this boat has another purpose close to the Commissioner's heart, unknown to the diggers and even the police.

Desperation over-lays many of the tales; the escaped convicts, the policeman with a reinvented life, the brutal farmer determined not to be parted from his property, even the frightened Commissioner trying to cover his tracks while looking back to his former life - the telling of the tales draws the reader in until the deed is done.
Hope there is a sequel.