Monday 9 November 2020

Book Review: The Shearer's Wife by Fleur McDonald

The Shearer's Wife
Fleur McDonald


Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 3rd November 2020
Genre: Rural Fiction / Crime
Series: Detective Dave Burrows
Pages: 384
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
1980: Rose and Ian Kelly arrive in Barker for supplies before they begin shearing at Jacksonville Station, a couple of hundred kilometres out of town. Rose, heavily pregnant with their first babies, worries that despite Ian's impending fatherhood he remains a drifter who dreams of the open road.
2020: When the Australian Federal Police swoop unheralded into Barker and make a shocking arrest for possession of narcotics, Detective Dave Burrows is certain there is more to the story than meets the eye. 
2020: After many months of grief over her brother's illness and death, journalist Zara Ellison is finally ready to begin a new chapter of her life and make a commitment to her boyfriend, Senior Constable Jack Higgins. But when she's assigned to investigating the Barker arrest, Jack begins to believe that Zara is working against him.

It takes a series of unconnected incidents in Zara's digging to reveal an almost forgotten thread of mystery as to how these two events, forty years apart, could be connected
My review
The Shearer's Wife is a dual time line narration. The first is in 1980 when a heavily pregnant Rose Kelly arrives in Barker with her husband, Ian. They lead a nomadic life moving from one shearing job to the next.
In 2020 the AFP arrive in Barker and arrest a local. Dave is warned off the case but when it's one of his own town's people he knows he must help.
Through this story Fleur McDonald brings country South Australia straight into my home. I loved how welcoming, helpful and accepting the country people are, willing to help out perfect strangers. This is a feel good story.   
Rose and Ian are happy together living the nomadic life of a shearer but we learn how difficult this life would be with a family. McDonald also includes topical subjects of the time, such as the wide-comb dispute that had shearers  up in arms.
Through Dave and Kim Burrows we see the problems faced by country police and the fine line between policing an area and being friends with the locals. This also puts a strain on a marriage.   
McDonald includes the trauma of PTSD and how it's a difficult diagnosis, usually picked up by friends rather than the person suffering. PTSD can affect the sufferers relationships and everyday life if not treated. 

Both stories were interesting and I was equally invested, wondering how the two stories would tie in.
As the story evolved the tension ramped up. The plot was realistic with heart-stopping suspense and just when you think it's all over the tension mounts again.

The Shearer's Wife is a rivetting rural crime story, easy to read yet full of heart, mystery and suspense. Although part of a series it reads as a stand-alone!

Fleur McDonald writes two series featuring Det Dave Burrows. One is set in 1999-2000 with a younger Dave Burrows and the other is present day.
5/5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Photo: Goodreads
Fleur McDonald has lived and worked on farms for much of her life. After growing up in the small town of Orroroo in South Australia, she went jillarooing, eventually co-owning an 8000-acre property in regional Western Australia.
Fleur likes to write about strong women overcoming adversity, drawing inspiration from her own experiences in rural Australia. She has two children, an energetic kelpie and a Jack Russell terrier.


Want to know more about Dave? This 32 page eBook available on Amazon is a great little introduction to this character!

The Farmer's Choice by Fleur McDonald
This short story features some background on a young Dave Burrows fresh out of Ag college and explains the situation behind him leaving his family and the farming life he loved so much.
We get to know Dave’s personality and what motivates him.
Challenges entered: Aussie author challenge  #AussieAuthor20
                                 Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2020


  1. I have a few Fleur McDonald movies to catch up on, I need to learn which books follow which timeline.

    1. I have a few more to read too. I really enjoy these books. They can easily be read out of order although this one had a few very small spoilers for the old Dave Burrows books.

    2. That's good to know. I'm the kind of person who likes to go in order if I can, I get upset if I don't get a background reference or read a older one after and something is ruined lol.