Author: Fleur McDonald
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Publication Date: 29 March 2022
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Rising Dust is the latest instalment in the early life of Detective Dave Burrows, a gripping story that adds to the series as well as standing solidly on it’s own for those who aren’t familiar with the rest of the books.

I have followed the career and character of Dave since the beginning, not having missed many of the stories he has been in. I want to say that I have read all he has featured in but I believe I may have missed a couple of the later ones.

In Rising Dust we see Dave and his partner Bob Holden heading out to investigate a case of missing sheep on a station north of Carnarvon, a case that needs to be put on hold when they discover a much bigger mystery before they even get to sink their teeth into information gathering on the stock loss.

In a case of worst timing ever Dave and Bob arrive at Corbett Station Stay to gather information for the case of stock missing from neighbouring property DoubleM Station, just as backpackers Hannah and Kelsey make a grisly find on the beach.

Being that Rising Dust is a tale filled with mystery and suspense I find that it’s really difficult to review because I don’t want to ruin any of the twists or give anything away.

Outside of the stock squad Detective Dave is still facing some uphill battles in his personal life. His marriage is irreconcilably over, something that everyone could see coming; including Dave. It also means that his relationship with his daughters is impacted because Mel and her father Mark don’t want him to see them, believing him to be a risk to their safety.

Rising Dust sees Dave start to look forward, entertain the thought of moving on with his life and putting his marriage to Mel in the past but the first steps are rocky, and lead to a rather large serving of guilt.

There is only one main mystery and storyline in Rising Dust which is a little different from McDonald’s recent stories, I’m used to there being a few different threads to weave together. This time round that isn’t really the case. Dave and Bob head out to chase up the case of missing sheep, which gets railroaded by a bigger mystery, and then we don’t really get back to the sheep; not in any real depth. I think that side of the storyline got a little lost and it was wrapped up in a few short pages at the end, it actually felt a little rushed and not well fleshed. We get a brief answer of what happened but not really the why or the how.

The situation they stumbled into though, now that was well documented and unraveled slowly; in a way that kept me intrigued and involved, unable to put the book down.

McDonald explores many rural themes with insight and her extensive experience lends authenticity to her work. Corbett Station Stay was once just a station, but after some pretty horrific accidents the family are left needing to make some changes to keep the station from going under.

Brody Corbett is the only son of Mal and Jane Corbett and it is up to him to come home and take over the running of the station after the tragic accident that killed his father, a few short years later his mother is involved in a farm accident leaving her a paraplegic.

Jane is an inspiring and positive character, who hasn’t let her new limitations keep her down. She can’t do as much as she used to but she is determined to still pull her weight and do what she can. But she is limited now, and her care costs money so the family had to think outside of the box to stay afloat. That’s where the Station Stay comes in, and it’s certainly something I would be interested in.

Corbett Station is huge, it still runs sheep and it borders onto Crown land; but it also boasts private beaches and river access so harnessing some tourist dollars seems like a great idea. The station is still quite rustic and off the grid; no internet, patchy phone reception and simple accommodations. Corbett Station Stay offers camping sites, a camp kitchen with bar and meals, shower facilities and a small number of basic cabins.

I did adore McDonald’s descriptions of some of the travellers through the Station Stay in their state of the art caravans will all the modern conveniences, the class of tourists that take everything with them when they go to get away from it all.

The weather is another element of McDonald’s storytelling that captured me in this one, I know that the weather all over the country is a little crazy lately but the storm in Rising Dust was amazing. It came out of nowhere and a couple of hours of rain was enough to raise rivers, wash out roads and trap everyone on the station for days. I sit here thinking about it and a part of me would have loved to be able to watch and listen to that rain – from a warm and dry corner keeping me safe.

Rising Dust is a compelling story with unexpected twists and some very insightful looks at family and expectation while still exploring Dave’s life outside of the stock squad. I can’t wait to keep following the adventures of Detective Dave Burrows, I look forward to being along for the ride as he learns to move forward.

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

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

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