Author: Fleur McDonald
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Publication Date: 30 March 2021
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

It has been a long time since I actually sat down to write a review, and I think it’s pretty amusing that the last review to go live on the blog was Fleur McDonald’s last release. That’s not to say that I haven’t been reading, because I have. There is a huge stack of books on my desk waiting to be reviewed and I think it just got way too daunting so it was easier to just keep putting it off. I love reading great Australian books and I love sharing them by writing a review, so this is my pledge to get back into it. I will probably never get around to reviewing all the fantastic books I have read and not reviewed but from here on out…. I’m back in business. At least I plan to be.

Something To Hide is the latest in the early Detective Dave series and it picks up from where Red Dirt Country left off. I think if you are new to Fleur McDonald or Detective Dave you will enjoy this book just as much as long term fans of her work.

I have always found Fleur McDonald to write insightfully, utilising her intimate knowledge of farming and rural life to lend authenticity to her characters. I love her ability to write such complex and layered characters, especially her police officers. Detective Dave Burrows has had quite the colourful career, and journey to his position on the Stock Squad, he has worked across the country in many positions and always seems to find himself in a sticky situation.

Detective Dave Burrows is a passionate detective with a hot temper and some wise veteran mentors. Something To Hide takes Dave and his Stock Squad partner Bob back to Barrabine, where he was first posted with his wife a number of years ago.

As is often the way with McDonald there are a number of threads that seem unrelated but leave you wondering if there might be connections yet to be uncovered.

For those who have been following the series, and career of Detective Burrows, you will remember that at the end of Red Dirt Country Dave’s wife was approached in the supermarket by a man with a message to pass on to her husband. And that’s where it ended, I couldn’t believe the cliffhanger and hotly anticipated this new installment.

Something To Hide opens with Mel relaying the meeting to Dave, and him knowing immediately that the dangerous stock thief and murderer he failed to bring in has found his family – and they are all in danger.

Alongside the police investigation Detective Dave is officially involved in he also wants to help ensure the safety of his family, and help the Major Crime Squad bring the murderous brothers to justice. Unfortunately for Dave Major Crime don’t value his insight or knowledge of the POIs (persons of interest) and don’t take long to tell him to back off.

Police work is Dave’s passion and has been since he came to terms with not having a place on his family farm, hence the longheld desire to find a place in the Stock Squad which he has finally achieved. He loves the fact that not only is he helping people but he is back in the familiar world of farming. Dave’s dilemma is that he also has a deep love for his family, his wife and two young daughters.

The relationship with Mel has been strained throughout the series because, as McDonald explores in every book, the life of a policeman’s wife is not an easy one. It’s not just the hours, the always chasing the next lead and never quite being off duty; it’s very much the danger. It’s the never knowing if your partner is coming home from that shift and the constant fear of what could happen. Mel also discovers that it’s the powerlessness of finding yourself in danger as a result of your relationship with the police. Dave has never met the approval of Mel’s doting father either and she has found herself forever caught in the middle.

Recent events have left Mel less and less content in her role as a police officer’s wife and she has put her foot down, telling Dave he has to choose because he can’t have both.

Investigating the loss of cattle from a station out Barrabine way, dealing with Mel’s ultimatum and not knowing where she is after her father whisks the family away to keep them safe and reconnecting with old friend and partner Spencer Brown keeps Dave busy, but never out of trouble.

McDonald keeps Dave well and truly on his toes, flexing his investigative skills and seeing connections where there is nothing concrete; skating on the fine line between being a damn good detective and a hothead who lives on the edge of the rules. We are watching her shape his character into the well respected veteran detective that we know from his later career.

Something To Hide reeled me in and held me tight from the very start. I spent way more hours reading than I should have, and than I have recently, and I can’t wait to see what McDonald has in store for him next.

Fleur McDonald loves to hear from her readers and you can find her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Something To Hide is published by Allen & Unwin and is available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold. 

Something To Hide is book #5 read for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2021, and book #1 reviewed.