Renovations are hell. And that’s before you find the body beneath the floorboards. An intriguing mystery from a stylish new voice in crime fiction, for readers of Kerry Greenwood and Holly Throsby.
When your builder finds bones under the floor of your heritage home, what do you do? For TV researcher Poppy McGowan, the first step is to find out if the bones are human (which means calling in the cops and delaying her renovations) or animal (which doesn’t).
Unfortunately, ‘help’ comes in the form of Dr Julieanne Weaver, archaeologist, political hopeful, and Poppy’s old enemy. She declares the bones evidence of a rare breed of fat-tailed sheep, and slaps a heritage order on the site. The resultant archaeological dig introduces Poppy to Tol Lang, the best-looking archaeologist she’s ever met – and also Julieanne’s boyfriend.
When Julieanne is found murdered in Poppy’s house, both she and the increasingly attractive Tol are considered suspects – and so Poppy uses her media contacts and news savvy to investigate other suspects. Did Julieanne have enemies in the right-wing Australian Family party, for which she was seeking preselection, or in the affiliated Radiant Joy Church? Or at the Museum of New South Wales, among her rivals and ex-boyfriends? And who was her secret lover?
Can Poppy save herself, and Tol … and finally get her house back?
***Thanks to NetGalley and HQ Fiction for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.
not my cup of tea:
I have real mixed feelings about Digging Up Dirt. It felt like nothing was happening most of the time, and I forgot what the story was supposed to be about. I think there may have been too many working pieces for me to get a handle on the point of the story.
Combining a cozy mystery with attacks on religion and right-wing politics may have been asking for too much. Pamela Hart seemed to be working hard on the angle that religion was okay, but only if it’s traditional Catholicism. I understand that she was trying to draw a line between right-wing politics aligned with hypocritical religious leaders, but it still tainted the story for me. I got more of a ‘my religion is better than your religion‘ vibe than a ‘racism/sexism/homophobia masquerading as religion is bad‘ vibe, when I think (or at least hope) she was aiming for the latter.
Putting all of that aside, the solving of the case was more of a secondary motive to everything else going on – no one seemed to care much about the murder victim. I don’t care how unlikable someone is; their murder should not be less important than the sexual chemistry you have with their boyfriend or getting on with your home renovations.
Finally, anyone who has spent any time in Sydney will find it hard to believe a lot of the timelines here. Poppy zips around the city like it’s no problem when in fact it should’ve taken so much more time to get around – Sydney traffic is no joke. Plus, her ability to purchase a house pretty much in the city (no matter how run down) despite constantly complaining about how little money she has/earns is just totally unbelievable.