In the seclusion of pre-independent and post-independent Papua New Guinea, we find a group of expatriates, from an eclectic yet progressive Dutch priest to the money grabbing John Pietro. Among them is James Ward, an Australian Malaria Control Officer in the East Sepik District where this story begins. James Ward, in confronting his own values and those of the New Guineans, is on a humorous path of life, at once real and imagined. Tortured by religious scruples and sexual desires, James's life becomes a trajectory of impulses and aspirations without lasting resolutions. In this novel, the many personalities are scrutinised, as it were, in a fishbowl, exposing the traits and attributes that distinguish them in their frontier society. Some cope and endure, while others simply enjoy life. They are at times like the haughty and elusive cassowary or muruk of the jungle; at other times, they are attractive and tender like the Sepik Blue orchid or Sepik Blu. In the colonial Sepik District, many expatriates had an adventurous lifestyle in their personal relationships, and in implementing administration policies of justice, political education, health and commerce.
The expatriate legacy, for better or worse, is part of the history of Papua New Guinea. The characters of Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk are portraits of people formed by the time and place they lived in. There are no easy answers to the complex question of the morality of colonial rule in the lives of many of the expatriates. For James Ward, he embarks on a quixotic adventure in early independent Papua New Guinea that spells out his kismet.