Earthwork – Carol Dawber

River Press ISBN:  0-9598041-1-1-0

Doug Fisher is holding the fort in Nelson, while Liz Gresham is simply having a holiday there.  But the city seems overcrowded with people playing panflutes, designing strange garments and selling possum-fur hats.  Then there’s a murder, and the police find themselves searching through housetrucks and artists’ studios to try and sort things out.  Why are there white feathers on Bo Deveraux’s workbench?  Who are the mysterious Israelis?  Should we be selling our native trees for woodchip?  What is detective Jan Rycroft’s dark secret?  And why are all those people running around with leaves in their hair?

It promised to be a real whodunit, until I started reading it.  One of the reason’s I chose it was because it was based on my hometown of Nelson.  But reading the story, I didn’t recognise any of the landmarks, or the places that the people lived.

The mystery part of it didn’t really unravel the way I thought it would, and in the end I had to find out who did it along with the other principles in the story because there just weren’t enough clues.  In fact I had no idea who it could have been.

The story centres on the tree people and the chipping of native wood.  It was a bit of a stretch for the police to keep going back there when they really didn’t appear to have the evidence that they needed, and then the ending was so abrupt that I shook my head wondering what had happened, and yes, it was the end of the book.

Overall the tale was readable, but I really struggled with it, and felt I was told the story rather the being drawn into the story.


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