#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · new release

New Release Book Review: Digging Up Dirt by Pamela Hart

Title: Digging Up Dirt

Author: Pamela Hart

Published: June 2nd 2021

Publisher: HQ Fiction – AU

Pages: 352

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 4 stars

Renovations are hell. And that’s before you find the body beneath the floorboards. An intriguing mystery from a stylish new voice in crime fiction, for readers of Kerry Greenwood and Holly Throsby.

When your builder finds bones under the floor of your heritage home, what do you do? For TV researcher Poppy McGowan, the first step is to find out if the bones are human (which means calling in the cops and delaying her renovations) or animal (which doesn’t).

Unfortunately, ‘help’ comes in the form of Dr Julieanne Weaver, archaeologist, political hopeful, and Poppy’s old enemy. She declares the bones evidence of a rare breed of fat-tailed sheep, and slaps a heritage order on the site. The resultant archaeological dig introduces Poppy to Tol Lang, the best-looking archaeologist she’s ever met – and also Julieanne’s boyfriend.

When Julieanne is found murdered in Poppy’s house, both she and the increasingly attractive Tol are considered suspects – and so Poppy uses her media contacts and news savvy to investigate other suspects. Did Julieanne have enemies in the right-wing Australian Family Party, for which she was seeking preselection, or in the affiliated Radiant Joy Church? Or at the Museum of New South Wales, among her rivals and ex-boyfriends? And who was her secret lover?

Can Poppy save herself, and Tol … and finally get her house back?


‘How interesting!’ Mum said enthusiastically. ‘A real archeological dig in your own backyard.’

Digging Up Dirt comes from an emerging voice in the cosy mystery genre. Pamela Hart graces her readers with a brand new tale that fuses humour with dark intrigue. Topical, perplexing and thought provoking, Digging Up Dirt is an interesting Australian based mystery style from Pamela Hart.

Meet Poppy McGowan. Poppy is a television researcher, who becomes embroiled in a complex murder mystery when her builder unearths a set of bones under her heritage home. While first trying determine who the bones belong to, Poppy realises that this discovery may lead to a complex series of problems for her to solve. But help soon arrives thanks to Jacqueline Weaver, an archeologist. As the investigation into the bones advances, it is revealed that the bones are not human, but animal. However, the skeletal remains belong to a rare breed of sheep, so Poppy’s home is subjected to a heritage order. The archaeological dig that ensues sees Poppy cross paths with another archeologist, but this handsome man is also Julianne’s other half.  Things take a deadly turn when Julianne’s murdered body is discovered on Poppy’s property. With Poppy and Julianne’s boyfriend Tol cast immediately as suspects, Poppy must call on all her resources to prove their innocence. As the murder investigation progresses some interesting facts emerge. It appears as though Julianne’s work, political interests and religious affiliations may have a part to play in her untimely death. With so many questions and doubts surrounding Julianne’s murder, Poppy hopes that she can get her freedom and home back.

It is always great to see an author who is well established in one genre branch further afield and bravely take on a new genre. Pamela Hart, the author of Digging Up Dirt, is a respected writer in the historical fiction field. Digging Up Dirt represents Hart’s first venture into the cosy mystery genre. Digging Up Dirt was a very entertaining read.

Poppy McGowan leads the charge in this intriguing murder mystery case. I really enjoyed getting to know Poppy, she was a fun character to be acquainted with. I appreciated Poppy’s outlook on life and I found I was really interested in her career pursuits. I liked how Hart allowed Poppy to morph into a fabulous amateur sleuth as this story progressed. I was really rooting for Poppy to save herself from this shocking crime and gain her property back. The ensuing mystery surrounding Julianne’s death and Poppy’s possible involvement allows for some interesting dialogue interludes to take place. I appreciated this aspect of Digging Up Dirt.

Romance has a part to play in this cosy mystery. The tension that arises between Poppy and her potential love interest was covered really well by Hart. There is no doubt that Hart can spin a fabulous side romance yarn, not matter the genre. Hart displays her prowess in this field via her engaging and tension filled love storyline. I’m sure the hesitant will they/won’t they style romance present in Digging Up Dirt will appeal to readers.

Within this narrative we have a great contrast of darkness with comedy. Hart’s storyline framework also incorporates a number of topical issues. We are presented with a whole host of themes in Digging Up Dirt concerning politics, religion, personal rights, societal trends, archeology, heritage rules, home renovations and media reporting. This is just a touch of what Hart serves up in Digging Up Dirt. With plenty of plot curls, sudden developments and red herrings strategically placed in this novel, the reader is able to play a very active role in this clever whodunnit.

A diverting murder mystery tale awaits readers in Pamela Hart’s Digging Up Dirt.  A story that promises a touch of fun, humour, romance and a titillating mystery to solve, look out for this one in bookstores.

Digging Up Dirt by Pamela Hart was published on 2nd June 2021 by HQ Fiction – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Digging Up Dirt, Pamela Hart, visit here.

*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Digging Up Dirt is book #61 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

3 thoughts on “New Release Book Review: Digging Up Dirt by Pamela Hart

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