Review: Red Dirt Road by S.R. White


Title: Red Dirt Road {Detective Dana Russo #3}

Author: S.R. White

Published: 10th January 2023, Hachette Australia

Status: Read January 2023 courtesy Hachette Australia


My Thoughts:

Red Dirt Road is the third police procedural to feature Detective Dana Russo from former police officer S.R. White.

In the wake of the internal political manoeuvring in Prisoner, Dana has been sent to Unamurra, a tiny outback community with a population of 82 people and given just two days to solve the murders of two locals. Discovered a month apart, the bodies of Larry Muir and Tim Ogden were found shot in the heart and strung up on mobile art installations representing angels. Dana has concerns about the original investigation which yielded no witnesses, suspects or motive, and knows she needs to try something different if she is going to get results, and save her career.

It seems to me that the author has drawn some inspiration from the true crime mystery centred on the Australian town of Larrimah for Red Dirt Town. There are definitely some similar elements, though White tells his own story.

In what is essentially a ‘locked room’ mystery, in that the murderer must be one of Unamurra’s residents, Dana has limited resources to work with. Her usual team isn’t with her, she’s wary of the assistance offered by the town’s police officer, Abel Barillo, and the community doesn’t seem invested in finding the truth.

There’s not a lot of action in Red Dirt Road, and despite the time pressure Dana is under I felt Red Dirt Road lacked a sense of urgency, though the mystery, and the motive is intriguing.

The information Dana needs to solve the case comes slowly as she takes an oblique approach to the case. With plenty of possible suspects, White develops several red herrings, but it’s deciphering the unusual dynamics of the town that will prove crucial to Russo solving the murders.

Not my favourite of the series so far, but Red Dirt Road is still an interesting read.


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