BOOK CLUB: Deception Creek

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“Deception Creek” is the latest in Fleur McDonald’s long-running series featuring Dave Burrows, and it’s one of the best of the series.

Police detective Dave Burrows is a continuing character in McDonald’s work, sometimes taking centre stage, and sometimes as a more minor character. In all of these novels, other characters recur in roles of varying importance.
However, each novel also contains an independent, complete, story. If you read all the novels you’ll gradually build up a stronger picture of certain characters, and although that adds depth and enjoyment, it’s not essential to appreciate any individual novel.

Here Dave is only one of a broad cast of characters; indeed, McDonald is so even-handed in her treatment of them that it doesn’t really feel as though any one character is central. This benefitted the multiple, entwined stories, and made it feel all the more realistic.

Joel Hammond, newly released from jail, has returned to small-town Barker. He’d left town years ago, all but run out of town in the wake of the accidental death of his girlfriend. An unrelated jail term years later destroyed his life, and he’s back to try to rebuild it. Unfortunately, small towns have long memories, and many residents don’t want him back.

Trying to keep the peace, Dave Burrows and his offsider Jack Higgins find themselves re-examining the investigation into Maggie Douglas’ death. This leads them to take a closer look at Joel’s later conviction too. And because life isn’t simple, there’s an internet fraudster affecting people in town and the daily realities of policing a small town too.

Meanwhile, another resident, Emma, is celebrating her divorce – or is she? She doesn’t regret the divorce, but she’s not thrilled about the shape of her life either. Being a farmer is hard work and sometimes isolating. Emma is considering what changes she might want to make.

One of the things I appreciate about McDonald’s work is that it doesn’t fit tidily into one genre; like life, it sprawls across several. There are elements of romance, but it’s not always the main storyline. There are elements of crime, but it’s a gentler approach than many crime readers might expect. Domestic and relationship drama plays a part too. And although it’s not prominent, McDonald frequently touches on contemporary social issues.

Consequently, this novel should appeal to readers who favor all sorts of genres. It’s well written and strongly characterised (whether you’ve read any other of McDonald’s novels or not).

I particularly appreciated the plotting. Multiple stories overlap and intersect. This feels credible in a small town, where almost everyone has some acquaintance and lives get linked whether you want them to or not. All of the plot elements were interesting and kept me reading.

I have read a number of the earlier novels, and enjoyed revisiting characters I’d met before and seeing what they were up to now. Although not the main purpose of “Deception Creek”, it gave it an interesting layer that added depth.

The reason I think it’s one of the best McDonald has written to date lies in the plotting. I’ve already noted the way the plots link and intersect. It means that no single plot has a lot of depth to it, but it feels very real in the way you have to deal with more than one thing at once. I also appreciated the resolution of the novel. It’s not as upbeat as some might want, but I found it satisfying and believable.

Fans of McDonald won’t need a lot of prompting to pick this up, but new readers should also give it a try. It’s not a difficult read, but it has something to offer readers across a number of genres. I enjoyed it a great deal.

Author: Fleur McDonald
ISBN: 978-1-76087-882-5
Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin (2021)

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Deception Creek by Fleur McDonald. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Deception Creek

  1. OMGEE. I started this at 10pm, thinking I’d read a few chapters, but come 4am, I had finished it. I literally could not put it dowm
    I love a story set in Australia, and especially on farming properties.
    There are quite a few characters in this book, but it is so beautifully written, that there is no confusion as to who is who.
    I love the way the opening chapter set the scenen for a twisted tale, which would unfold as the story progressed.
    A divorce, deception, heartache, a bit of romance, family secrets make for a remarkable story. Throw into the mix the two local Police, ( our favourite Detective Dave Burrows and his offsider) and you have a rivetting page turner.
    I have loved all of Fleur McDonalds books, but I will say, this has been my favourite.. in fact, I will honestly say, it would have to be my favourite read of the year.
    Thank you so much Beauty & Lace, and Allen & Unwin, for the opportunity to read this fabulous book, and especially to Fleur for bringing to life in word, life in our very own country.
    I look forward to reading your next releases.

  2. All I can say about this book is wow! I’ve only just become interested in novels that are set in Australia and about/set on farming properties and I’m absolutely hooked.
    I’ve read a few of Fleur McDonalds books now and am now a huge fan.
    Characters Detective Dave Burrows and his off sider Jack Higgins make their return and are on high alert keeping the community of Barker safe once more. The story brings us a returned criminal, a family who has deep dark secrets and a cybercrime rolled into one making for an explosive read. The end leaves us with devastating outcomes – outcomes I certainly didn’t see coming and left me definately wanting more.

    1. As always Fleur McDonald did a great job of writing a great book to honour Dave burrows and I have all of her books as I’m a huge fan of her books and I wou;d like to thank her for the opportunity to read her books please keep them coming

  3. I’ve not read any books by Fleur McDonald before, but I’m a huge fan of Australian set stories, especially those with a touch of romance thrown in. This definitely did not disappoint.

    I really liked the setting and characters, and the story flowed really well, so much so that it was really difficult to put down.

    The story centres around a returning local which kick starts the unravelling of many a secret in the town. The addition of a little romance made the story even better.

    While the story includes characters from previous books in the series, it works just as well as a stand alone book. Saying that, I enjoyed the story so much, I’ll definitely read the rest of the series to learn more about the characters.

    I really enjoyed this one and will be seeking out more by the same author.

  4. It’s been a while since I read a Fleur McDonald novel and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy them. This was a great read which had me staying up too late to finish. I really enjoy Detective Dave Burrows’ character and his offsider Senior Sergeant Jack Higgins, they are straight-up likeable characters who really care about their community and the people in it.

    With a cast of characters, some who are holding grudges and more who are keeping secrets, there was plenty of tension to be had as the truth was uncovered about several different crimes. I did think there was one twist that could have been left out as for me it was a distraction, but overall I found this a really good read and look forward to more Dave Burrows rural crime novels.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

  5. This is not the first book I have read by Fleur McDonald and how wonderful and exciting to start reading and find that Detective Dave Burrows and his offsider Senior Sergeant Jack Higgins are in this novel doing what they do best.

    This is definitely a stand alone book for others to read but it is just lovely to have Dave Burrows in this book again.

    I have always liked the style of writing that Fleur does……she has you hanging on all the pages and we are given rural properties, crime and romance so everything to keep you interested.

    The character I most gelled with in this book is Joel Hammond who is finally returning to a place called Barker after being released from jail. Joel had grown up and lived in Barker for years and left after his girlfriend Megan was killed in an accident.

    On his return back to Barker, not many other people give him a welcome back and want him run out of town. They accuse him of having something to do with Megan’s death.
    I found myself endearing myself to Joel. His character really tore the strings to my heart and I just had to read to see how this would all end.

    There is also a character called Emma – she is going through a divorce and she runs the farming property. Following her story is also very engaging.

    There are many more characters in the book but you don’t get lost with their stories and who they are while you read the novel. I could not put this book down but with Christmas and things happening, I had to.

    The storyline of this novel has so many twists and turns and sometimes I thought I was on the right track then something else would throw me off that track.

    Honestly, this book is worth the read as you will be truely captured with the storyline that has been beautifully written.

    Thank you to Beauty & Lace for another fantastic book to read and to Allen & Unwin for sending the book to read and of course to Fleur McDonald. Love, love your story writing and will look forward to more from you in the future

    1. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read and review Fleur McDonald’s Deception Creek.

      Fleur McDonald is one of my favourite authors. Every book is one that I read start to finish in one sitting, no matter what the time is!

      Dave Burrows is definitely one of my all time favourite characters. He reminds me of a modern day Constable Croydon!

      I would love to see these books turned into a TV series. I would binge watch them for sure!

  6. Fluer McDonald has captured my attention once again in this captivating story. So many character to like and a few to really dislike right from the start. Joel Hammond captured me right from the start as did Senior Seargant Jack Higgins, his wife along with her friend.
    Too many character to name but the whole essence of the story was one which had to be read and was so believable situation around small town situations. I read this book in a matter of hours as I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know where each character fitted in and the events to the end.
    A truly good read!

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