Western Australian-based author Fleur McDonald includes a note at the start of this novel, commenting on how this series – featuring a young Detective Dave Burrows ultimately connects to her other (contemporary) series – featuring an older Dave. It’s meant all along those who’ve read both series know about the demise of Dave’s first marriage but McDonald expertly eked that storyline out… until now.
The events of the previous book in this series, Something to Hide, were fairly catastrophic and something from which there’s no going back. McDonald’s latest, features Dave in the aftermath of that, grappling with his future and potentially the loss of his family. Amidst some good old outback crime of course.
by Fleur McDonald
Series: Detective Dave Burrows #5
Published by Allen & Unwin
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
Dave Burrows is fighting to see his children and suffering from the guilt and trauma of his mother-in-law being shot by his nemesis, Bulldust. He's being told by Mel's lawyer that his job puts his children at risk and therefore he shouldn't see them.
After a phone call suggesting to his partner, Bob Holden, there could have been some sheep stolen north of Carnarvon, they head north and Dave tries to put his children out of his mind. Especially when Shannon, a forensic pathologist, turns up to investigate the first body on the beach. Shannon and Dave have always had a close friendship and, on the beautiful beaches of the north, that friendship grows into something more.
A ferocious storm comes, uncovering another body, buried deep in the sand, and a truckload of drugs is discovered nearby as they recover the second body. It's then that the sheep investigation takes a back seat.
A simple – though suspicious – case of livestock theft turns into something more macabre here. McDonald actually opens with a young girl, taken from the streets of Indonesia and ‘used’ by a group of men sailing to – what we assume is – Australia.
She then introduces the sheep-stealing case – as always – showing her impressive knowledge of all-things-outback as Bob and Dave make their way north from Perth. I’ve actually just returned from a work trip to West Australia and travelled up to the West Kimberley so found McDonald’s descriptions more detailed and vivid than usual.
Again she touches on topical issues – farmers supplementing money by hosting travellers and offering farmstays for example.
Dave and Bob’s missing livestock investigation is upended by the discovery of a body… seemingly washed up on a nearby beach. I particularly loved the way in which McDonald describes its presence as a blight against the serene setting.
It’s the change in weather that screws things up for those involved, heavy rain and storms unearthing things they assumed were safely buried. Literally and figuratively.
McDonald offers a few twists in here and I certainly didn’t pick one of them.
But casting a shadow over the investigation(s) for Dave – not to mention potentially moving ahead with a new romance – is the happenings in her personal life and the fact he’s being kept from his kids. Again he’s forced to ponder whether he’s prepared to give up the work he loves and gives him meaning to offer a safer life for his children.
This is another great read with several satisfying conclusions by McDonald. And I continue to appreciate that I always come away with some newfound knowledge. Her effortless references to details about stock numbers or sheep shearing practices aside, it feels as if I (myself) have ventured a little into rural Australia. (But lived to tell the tale.)
Rising Dust by Fleur McDonald was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.