The Man in the Water by David Burton
Genre: Mystery #LoveOzYa
Publication: October 1st 2019
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Source: #AusYaBloggers Tour
– Thank You AusYaBloggers & UQP
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On the first day of year 10, Shaun sees a dead body.
When 16-year-old Shaun discovers a dead body 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.
Now his mum and the authorities question whether he saw a body at all.
Determined to show the town the truth, Shaun and his best friend, Will, open their own investigation. But what they discover is far more sinister than a mining mishap or a murder, and reveals a darkness below the surface of their small mining town.
The story kicks into action immediately with POV character Shaun finding a dead body floating in the lake. He runs (literally) to the cop shop for help, but by the time a Copper comes back with him to the lake the body is gone, and Shaun looks like a liar.
Only Shaun’s best mate Will believes him and together they mount their own investigation. The fast who-done-it pace pushes you through the story, rapidly flipping to the pages to find out the who”s, whats, whens, and hows.
After some sleuthing, interfering and putting themselves in danger the boys do ultimately catch the “bad guys”, but it doesn’t exactly go down how you think it will.
On the surface this is a fun, captivating, page-turning who-done-it mystery. But it really does highlight the darker human casually side of the mining industry, of small mining towns, of the working conditions /quality of live /mental health dangers of such a money hungry industry.
The town the year ten students Shaun and Will call home grew into existence because of and revolves around coal mining. Will’s dad was a coal miner who’s declining physical health thanks to his job’s poor conditions lead to the decline of his mental health, and later suicide. And then there is the man in the water and all the people involved in that – which for spoiler reasons I obviously won’t go into.
So while this is a fantastic who-done-it romp, with a relativity happy ending for the two boys we grow to care for, that I absolutely enjoyed reading – it does tell some hard truths – but it’s done in a way I think kids will absorb without releasing it.
This story is a must read for any and all #LoveOZYA aficionados and who-done-it mystery aficionados.