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.
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Publication Date: October 1st 2019
RRP: $19.95 AUD
Personal Rating: 4/5
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.
From the first sentence, the reader is thrown into the murder mystery as it slowly consumes Shaun’s every thought. Shaun’s character is fleshed out and felt very real. He truly was a teenager dealing with personal problems, school, wanting the girl he fancied to notice him while trying to prove his small town in the Aussie outback that he wasn’t lying. It reminded me of the days when I was a teen and adults refused to believe me just because I was a kid who didn’t know any better. Shaun was human, desperately seeking approval, attention and making mistakes. But unlike other YA protagonist, Shaun understands his mistakes and tries very hard to make amends rather than brushing them off. We need YA protagonists like this!
The plot overall was enjoyable. David Burton kept me second-guessing on who the “murderer” was and I was pleased that it is revealed in the end. The story also gave us a look into the life of coal workers in the outback which is a point of view I have never encountered since most stories happen in big cities or towns. It touched on topics on how the industry and mining companies affect a community and its families.
The Man in the Water was overall a pleasant read and would recommend to anyone wanting to read a quick YA thriller with an uncommon setting.