Title: Without a Doubt
Author: Fleur McDonald
Published: April 1st 2019
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Fiction, Crime, Mystery
Rating: 4 stars
Detective Dave Burrows finds himself on the wrong side of the law as he searches for the link between a murdered man and illegal stock trading in this suspenseful rural crime novel.
In Barrabine, as Dave’s workload skyrockets, Melinda, Dave’s wife, is unhappy about being left alone so much to raise their eighteen-month-old daughter, Bec. It’s not how Dave wants it either, but complaints, leads and crimes all have to be investigated – it’s what he joined the force for.
Melinda’s interfering father isn’t helping. He’s never thought that Dave was right for his daughter and he’s not shy about telling Dave what he’s doing wrong. When things come to a head at home, Dave’s policing mate, Spencer, comes up with a plan.
In the most dangerous mission of his life, Dave knows what he’s risking. If he’s found out, he’ll never see Melinda or Bec again. Of that he’s sure.
Australia’s very own, ‘voice of the outback’ returns with a smashing new tale, featuring her popular and enduring character, Detective Dave Burrows. It is time to travel back into the past, as we receive a gritty insight into the detective’s burgeoning career. Without a Doubt is a full bodied rural fiction title, underscored by a heavy dose of crime, while at the same timing exposing the challenges of outback living.
Without a Doubt shines a light on strains of family life when based in an outback location by local community members and enforcement. Detective Dave Burrows is stationed in the remote township of Barrabine, where every day new cases consume his life. Picking up the pieces at home is Dave’s wife Melinda, who is caring for their young daughter Bec. Dave is torn between his professional obligations and the needs of his family. Eventually, after a constant tussle between police work and family life, Dave chooses his career over his family (or so it seems). Faced with the biggest professional challenge of his life, Dave gives this new branch of his policing career his all. It is case fraught by danger at every corner and soon Dave begins to question his decision. With his family never far from his mind, Dave has to honour a commitment and see it through, but the question remains, will he be reunited with his family again?
Without a Doubt, penned by Australian rural fiction aficionado Fleur McDonald is the thirteenth novel from this talented outback storyteller. It is a great standalone novel, but it does have loose ties to Fools Gold and a number of other books that feature this passionate detective. To be honest, I am really enjoying this back track into Dave of the past and I’m kicking myself for not having read Fools Gold yet! Anyhow, Without a Doubt provides readers old and new of Fleur McDonald’s work a chance to get to know this hardened rural crime sleuth a little more, while at the same time, the reader gets to delve into more than one outback crime case. I consumed Without a Doubt over a night, which is always a sign of a great novel.
Rural crime is at the very front and centre of Without a Doubt. Bringing back Detective Dave Burrows and pitting him up against one of the most significant challenges and turning points in his life, was a wise move by Fleur McDonald. There are so many challenges of outback based crime, it takes a special kind of officer of the law to crack these complicated cases. Dave Burrows is not a stock standard detective. Each day and each case takes Dave above and beyond the call of duty, he puts his life on the line, with an impressive success rate. But, as we learn over the progression of Without a Doubt, this commitment to reducing the crime rate in the rural area he serves has come at a cost. Dave’s personal life is in tatters. I really did feel for the man, along with his wife, as well as his beloved daughter. It is tough work, but someone’s got to do it.
Outback crime is clearly Fleur McDonald’s strength. Using her firsthand research and networking with plausible sources, McDonald has worked hard to produce a novel that offers a deep insight into typical crimes that are happening in our remote based locales. Cattle issues or poaching, the influence of the organised mobs of highwaymen who are robbing honest farmers of their livelihood is covered superbly by McDonald. Likewise, McDonald draws our attention to the pressures of balancing back breaking and relentless rural living with the challenges of family life. Engaging, complex, enlightening and authentic, McDonald’s exploration of the crimes that impact the very heart of our rural dwellers is compelling. It is these set of crimes that take Dave Burrows to where he has never been before, working undercover. This allotment of the novel offered plenty of entertainment value, as well as knowledgeable insight. Dave Burrows doesn’t disappoint and we see what he is made of!
In terms of setting, Fleur McDonald impresses her readership yet again. The sense of place, despite split between separate outback locales, plus a mention of a familiar local spot (Bunbury, WA) infiltrates every page of this new novel from McDonald. The vast distances, the pure isolation, the desperation, disconnection, the strains and of course the elements that feed into all facets of life are exposed. Fleur McDonald has herself endured years of working in these tough conditions and this shines through her new novel.
Without a Doubt proved to be a more than substantial rural crime based read. Fleur McDonald’s latest novel is action packed, steadfast, realistic and utterly consuming. With a side focus on matters of the heart faced by the families and partners of our dedicated rural crime based officers of the law, the latest chapter in the Dave Burrows series is one I recommend, without hesitation.
Without a Doubt by Fleur McDonald was published on 1st April 2019 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Without a Doubt, Fleur McDonald, visit here.
*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Without a Doubt is book #64 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge