The Man In The Water, David Burton

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy from the publisher, University of Queensland Press. This does not affect my views in any way and all opinions expressed are my own.

Set in a small Australian outback town, this murder mystery follows Shaun and his best friend, Will, as they try to uncover the mystery. In their adventure, they discover several of their friends and neighbours struggle with various problems while their entire town labours under the decline of the local mine, the only real source of income for the isolated town.

One day, Shaun discovers a dead body floating in the water but when he brings the police there, the body has inexplicably disappeared. Now no one believes him, even his own mother. Determined to prove the truth and become a local hero, Shaun investigates every clue and lead, no matter how small. I loved following two average boys as they investigate a legitimate crime, I’ve read a few mysteries where the teenager investigating is highly intelligent, and this was a nice, realistic display.

Shaun has had some struggles in the past, but he is still a regular teenage boy. He struggles with school, hangs out with his best friend, has an overly concerned mother and is crushing on a beautiful girl he is too scared to talk to. His scenes with his crush are rightfully awkward and almost made me cringe, they were really well written. I loved that he is an average boy and isn’t especially gifted in any way.

As with any good mystery, the clues lead from one unexpected suspect to another. Added to this, the boys had to figure out who the murder victim was. In a small town, everyone knows everyone, meaning there are numerous rumours and everyone could have a motive. Still the boys do a good job sorting through the mess to find valid leads (thanks in part to watching crime investigation shows like NCIS).

As always, I enjoyed reading an Australian based book and this one was particularly interesting since it was based in a small outback mining town. The author did a great job of showing the main problems such a town faces, from a lack of jobs to everyone knowing your personal business. The author even shows what it’s like for people who have spent the entire lives in a quiet country town to visit a big city. It really added to the enjoyment of the read.

This was a well written and interesting mystery, full of entertaining characters that felt very down to earth. I give it 5/5 and am thankful to have been given the chance to read it. I also hope the author continues to write great books set in Australia or beyond!


More Information:


On the first day of year 10, Shaun sees a dead body. 

When Shaun finds a body floating in the lake of a quiet mining town in outback Queensland, he immediately reports it to the police. But when he returns to the site with the constable, the body is gone. Determined to reveal the truth, Shaun and his best friend, Will, open their own investigation. But what they discover is far more sinister than they expected, and reveals a darkness below the surface of their small town.

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About The Author

David Burton is a writer from Brisbane, Queensland. By the age of 30, he’d written over two dozen professionally produced plays, published a book, and been a core part of some of the most innovative theatrical projects in Australia. He’s now 32, a Dad, and has a new YA fiction book coming out in October, 2019 from the University of Queensland Press titled The Man In The Water.

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