Thursday 17 October 2019

The Man in the Water

The Man in the Water by David Burton (UQP) PB RRP $19.95 ISBN 9780702262524

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

When sixteen-year-old 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. This is the beginning of this novel for readers aged ten years and older which is a gripping mystery from popular #LoveOzYA author David Burton.

While the adults brush off the death, Shaun and his mate Will are forced to open their own investigation. Their adventures take them all around town in their race to find justice for the Man on the Lake.

The protagonist, Shaun, is just an average kid who dreams big: he wants to solve the crime (as well as wanting others to believe he found the body that’s gone missing), make his mum proud and capture the attentions of Megan who’s stolen his heart. Most of all, Shaun dreams about being a hero despite self-doubt which is reminiscent of the uncertainty of youth. When he finally gets some answers, Shaun discovers that life is not always so black and white.

The novel deals with the themes of friendship, isolation and the struggle of living in a small mining town. There are also themes of suicide, grief & depression, but these are handled delicately and, in an age-appropriate way.

This novel, with numerous amusing scenes and spot-on dialogue, is likely to be appreciated by YA readers who like crime solving.

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