BOOK CLUB: Fool’s Gold

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Author: Fleur McDonald
ISBN: 978-1-76029-396-3
RRP: $29.99
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Fleur McDonald is a talented West Australian author writing suspenseful stories of life in small towns. She is an author I always quite enjoy but haven’t read nearly enough of. Fool’s Gold is her 11th novel but she has gone back in time to start at the beginning for a character we have come to know in other stories.

I am actually going to start by saying that Fool’s Gold comes with a bonus short story, The Farmer’s Choice; which come to think of it I’m pretty sure I purchased digitally and didn’t get around to. I read it tonight after finishing Fool’s Gold and I just want to say that if you read my review before you read the book…. read the short story first, it goes back even further in the life of Detective Dave Burrows. At the same time, I read it after the novel and still enjoyed it immensely. It’s another short insight into the events that made Detective Dave Burrows a detective.

We have met Detective Dave Burrows in more than one of McDonald’s novels as a passionate and dedicated detective working the cases that come up, always as a secondary character with a bit of background. Fool’s Gold gives him a starring role and takes us back to the beginning. Detective Burrows has just been promoted to husband, and detective. His first posting as a detective is to the rural gold mining town of Barrabine, in 1997, with his wife of two weeks.

Dave and Melinda are a perfect example of opposites attracting; Dave grew up on the family farm and always dreamed of spending his life there and Melinda is a city girl whose family are less than smitten with her choice of husband. The move to Barrabine is one they discussed in depth but it still wasn’t quite what they expected and there were times Dave was left wondering if his marriage would be over before it really began.

Fool’s Gold explores the early days of marriage when the honeymoon period ends way too soon and you are left questioning whether you made the right decision, whether you have given up all that’s important to you for the good of your partner and whether that sacrifice is worth it in the end. We have a front row seat as Melinda questions it all, with her family at the end of the phone encouraging her to give up and move back to them.

McDonald explores Melinda’s grief and loneliness well, and also her slow embrace of her new life. She may have trained as a paediatric nurse but those skills, and all of the reasons she chose to follow that field, can be applied to other roles when you open your mind to other opportunities.

Detective Dave Burrows has his eye on a spot in the stock squad but it’s something he has to work his way up to and the first stop on the journey is a country posting in the gold squad.

Barrabine might be a tiny mining town but where there’s gold there’s gold fever, and that often leads to trouble. There is quite a lot going on for such a little town and I was captivated with the way it all unfolded.

Late night trespassing, mining companies trying to buy up all the leases, a missing person, urban legends and an unidentified body make for interesting reading and some surprising twists. There were elements that left me wondering how that could possibly be, and even at the end of the book I’m not quite sure, but that was quite minor and didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the story.

I am left completely enthralled by Detective Dave Burrows and his story and I can’t wait to find out how he gets from where we leave him at the end of Fool’s Gold in 1997 to where we first met him in the present day.

McDonald has woven a couple of different mysteries into the narrative and the clues were well placed to keep me guessing but still put some of the pieces together to form an interesting and intricate tale of mining town life.

I can not wait to see what McDonald has in store for Detective Burrows in the next book.

Fools’ Gold is book #16 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.

Fleur McDonald loves to hear from her readers and you can find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Fool’s Gold is published by Allen & Unwin and available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading Fool’s Gold so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Fool’s Gold

  1. Fool’s Gold written by Fleur McDonald is an easy and enticing read. I don’t think I have read any of her previous books, so I was not familiar with Dave Burrows, the detective and main character who I now know has been in her previous books.

    So this time he is the lead in the story, which sees him placed in remote town of Barrabine with his new wife Melinda. The story starts with a look in the past, which had me wondering who the person was and how it would be linked to the story. I liked reading about Dave and his new posting and how he was helping solve a mystery death. The characters from the station, to the pub and the brothel were all quite well written. His wife Melinda was a little hard to bear with at frist, but it was understandable when you think of how she gave up everything to come with her husband,

    I would have liked to follow more of Melindas story and the cases she had at the clinic, I felt she was just coming into her own when she was dealing with Janelle and could feel her progressing, Her story seemed to be cut short in that she wanted to make new friends and do other things, but all we read of was her new job and Kathy a couple of times and she then disappeared from the story,

    By the middle of the book you could piece together the story of the past that flashed at the beginning and what happened in the murder mystery. By the end of the book when it was all unfolding it felt a little too quick and washed over. I sort of finished the pages and felt like oh is that it, case solved so quickly and not too much fuss about it. However I found the story enjoyable overall.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Allen&Unwin for giving me the chance to read and review Fool’s Gold by Fkeur McDonald.

  2. This is the second book of Fleur McDonald’s that I have read. I was introduced to both Fleur’s work and the main character in this book, Dave Burrows, in Suddenly One Summer. I was eager to read Fool’s Gold after thoroughly enjoying Suddenly One Summer and I have to say that this novel didn’t disappoint.

    After reading the previous book I was keen to read more about Dave Burrows and his story. This book had me hooked from the start and induced several late nights reading. There was one part that did confuse me however, at the end of a chapter a character heard people yelling and it seemed like it was important but then it wasn’t mentioned again. I also would’ve liked to know more of Dave’s wife Melinda’s story. Fleur has interwoven several stories incorporating both the past and the present and several characters and brings them all together in this very entertaining read.

    Thanks Allen & Unwin and Beauty & Lace Book Club a copy of Fools Gold to read and review.

  3. Fool’s Gold is the first in a new series for ‘Voice of the Outback’ author Fleur McDonald. The star of the series is Detective Dave Burrows’ who first made his appearance in Fleur’s debut novel, Red Dust, and continued to appear in others. In Fool’s Gold, Dave Burrows fans are taken back to the start of his career in 1997, in the outback town of the Barrabine, Western Australia. It’s also the opportunity for fans to meet his new bride, Melinda.

    The newlyweds are like chalk and cheese. Melinda is a city girl from a rich family while farm boy Dave is salt of the earth. Having only read a couple of Fleur’s earlier novels and barely remembering them, I was not sure if Melinda and Dave would be able to make as a married couple in the middle of nowhere.

    Melinda has great difficulty settling in, not wanting to be in Barrabine or to make the effort to socialise. I could really emphasise with her as I would react the same way at being taken away from my family and city life. She also gave up a wonderful career for Dave as a nurse and has to take a step down when she decides what she wants to do with her new life. While I understand that this is Dave’s story, I think Melinda adjusted a little too quickly and easily into her new life. I think it would have taken a lot longer than Fleur portrayed for a city slicker because in my eyes she gave up everything for love.

    Dave, in contrast, relishes country life. Through his job, Dave is introduced to the local people, helping him make solid friendships. The locals are an interesting, eclectic bunch who have their own secrets that have shaped them. I appreciated that Fleur didn’t turn to stereotypical characters because it made Barrabine life all the more interesting. Being a detective also leads Dave to dealing with a variety of issues including late night trespassing, a missing person and a body turning up in a mine shaft that kept the storyline going at a cracking pace. Who said country life was boring?! Through Dave’s job, I came to appreciate and respect gold mining in the late 1990s. I didn’t realise what a difficult and dangerous occupation it could be or that it would be addictive.

    This is a solid introduction to the life of Dave Burrows’ for fans of the detective or for new comers to Fleur McDonald’s writing.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace for a copy to review

    #AWWC number???#

  4. This being my first book by this author the detective is new to me. The author did a wonderful job of delivering this character and giving him his own direction. Whilst this is not my usual genre , I did enjoy the read, Its a solid plot, but would like to have seen a little more of Melinda and her journey, it seems a tad rushed and we didnt see her turmoil in moving forward so quickly.

    We see Daves duty outlined well within the story , and the country life portrayed within the pages.

    I enjoyed the authors writing style and even though this didn’t contain enough romance for me lol I still enjoyed . I felt at times some things were left unexplained and also possible rushed . An ending that could have been expanded and given a little more time.

    Overall 3/5

  5. Fool’s Gold is one of those books that you can say ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’.

    Your first look at the cover will bring thoughts of Romance to mind but this story is far more than that.
    I’d say that romance is there but it’s a small snippet of the big story.

    Dave has only been married to Melinda for two weeks when they make a huge move to Barrabine a mining town 7 hours East from Perth. Where the sun shines hot, rain never happens and the red dirt goes on forever.

    Melinda finds it all a bit hard, moving to a new town so far from her family, no job and no friends. Life is what you make it in Barrabine.

    Dave is eager to start his new position hoping that this could be the jobe he needs to get himself into the elite stock squad. Has he made the right choice for him and his wife. So far from all they’ve left behind.

    Fleur brings characters to life. You feels Melinda’s pain as she moves to a new town and you will also feel Dave’s excitement as his first case comes in.

    There is so much depth to the characters that Fleur brings to life that you feel you know them. Her descriptions of the town and the surrounding lands will almost feel like you’ve been there at some point in your life.

    The story of Dave and Melinda is as important at the case that Dave is working on and the two separate story lines of the book are told with much thought and light. The two stories are just both parts of Dave’s life but they are told cleverly.

    The town and it’s people are full of life and you can’t help smile at each mention of Ernie, what a lovable character he is.

    This is a wonderful book to read and I’m so glad I had the chance to read it

    I’m looking forward to more adventures with Detective Dave Burrows.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Allen and Unwin for giving me this book to read.

  6. Fleur McDonald is one of my absolute favourite writers so I was so excited to read this book! And as usual it didn’t disappoint.

    Unfortunately I had been behind in my reading so I read Suddenly one summer and then moved onto Fools gold.

    What I like most about Fleur’s writing is she always ties everything up. She tells a story and by the end of the book you completely understand what has happened. I was a little confused as to who was who when they were talking of the man who had moved away from the area, but in typical Fleur style, she made that clear by the end.

    I liked all of the characters, and really felt for Janelle and my heart was breaking to hear the old mans story about losing his children and his wife. I could understand and sympathise with him and his desperation.

    I loved all of the characters at the old pub! They were a great break in the story.

    Overall as usual this book didn’t disappoint me and thanks to Beauty and lace for helping me add to my collection.

    I recommend to anyone who is a fan of rural romance or contemporary women’s fiction.

  7. Fleur McDonald has written beautifully. Fool’s Gold is such a lovely rustic, Australian and heartwarmingly honest portrait of what it is like to live in harsh environments, especially when it is following a husband to a new job.
    Dave and Mel become very lovable and enjoyable characters. Mel’s rich upbringing makes it terribly hard for her to bring herself down to the local level and she is left pining for her city life. she blames Dave and refused to connect with Barrabine.
    Dave is in his element and enjoying everything this new posting provides him with.
    I very much enjoyed watching the characters develop throughout the story and the sense of bonding and joy that comes with finding yourself in a tough situation and rising above it to become a better and more open version of yourself. It is so Australian to find yourself in a situation like that and having been there myself related wholeheartedly to the feelings and issues that presented throughout the beginning of the story.
    The rap up of Fool’s Gold was delightful. I thoroughly enjoyed the delight the ending provided and would love to experience what Mel and Dave have in their future.
    Thanks for the opportunity to read such a lovely, honest, Australian story. 🙂

  8. I’ve read a few other novels by Fleur McDonald & really enjoyed reading this one too.

    Not so much a rural romance but there was a hint of romance as Dave & Melinda were recently married. It focused more on the crime at hand, but also tied in nicely how Melinda was struggling with the move. & being in an area so foreign to her, but where Dave felt most at home. Once she began to adjust to the move she actually found a job & began to settle in. Would have liked to see more of how this progressed for her, perhaps a future novel written about Melinda.

    Kept you in interested in the novel as it all began to fall together & how each character from the past & present fitted in together.

    enjoyed this novel, thank u

  9. I’ve read quite a few Fleur books and this is also a very enjoyable read – easy and not too hard to read. I would recommend it for like reading

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