Preview Reviews: Shore Leave by David Whish-Wilson

Preview Reviews: Shore Leave by David Whish-Wilson

It is Fremantle in 1989 and Frank Swann is at home, suffering from an undiagnosed and debilitating illness. When Frank is called in to investigate an incident at a local brothel, it soon appears there is a link between the death of two women and the arrival of the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in the port city. Shore Leave is the fourth book in the Frank Swann series and also features Lee Southern, the main character from True West.

Read our Preview reviewer thoughts here:

Kind of feels like a 1970/80s Aussie book Matthew Reilly/Clive Cussler/Chris Hammer would write. Steve and Frank are an awesome pairing! I’d never heard of David Whish-Wilson but am now buying the previous three books in the Frank Swann series. Set aside a few days, you won’t want to be disturbed! This has it all, another unputdownable read, thank you Better Reading, your choices are varied and absolutely amazing. – Penny, NSW, 5 Stars

My first Frank Swann novel – but it won’t be the last! This is a fast-paced, gritty cop story that hooks you in from the first page. I could picture Fremantle and its seedy nightlife of the late 1980s through the terrific writing of David Whish-Wilson. The bikies, the Navy, cops, ladies of the night and everything in between. This novel is for anyone who enjoys a good whodunnit. Grab a coffee and settle in for a fantastic ride! – Nicole, QLD, 5 Stars

Thank you, thank you! I really enjoyed reading Shore Leave by David Whish-Wilson. Well written and easy to read with Fremantle as a backdrop, Shore Leave has unusual but interesting twists and turns woven in with gun-running and gang wars. I could even feel the summer heat. The main character, Frank Swann, is perfect. His interaction with the other characters and situations he encounters worked a treat for me. David hasn’t used expletive language, gratuitous sex or gruesome scenes to build his story. He has managed to blend at least six individual story plots into one great old fashioned ‘whodunit’. It kept me guessing till the end. More like this plz. Great work Paul! – Sharon, ACT, 5 Stars

Shore leave by David Whish-Wilson Wow what a great read. A captivating story which built with each chapter. Loved the depth of characters and how Whish-Wilson built and held your interest as the story progressed. A real page-turner with twists and turns. Loved this book and didn’t want it to finish. – Christine, QLD, 5 Stars

What a great read, it had me enthralled from the very beginning. Three subplots that all came together at the very end, with a twist or two that the reader didn’t see coming. The main character, Frank Swann, is such an unlikely hero, who has a way of getting to the truth of things, although perhaps not quite on the straight and narrow. His relationships with a number of questionable characters as well as his love for his family make for enjoyable reading and give an insight into the man behind this ex-cop. David Whish-Wilson has managed to evoke 1980s Fremantle in such a way that the reader is transported back in time, and given a timely reminder of what life was like before our manic reliance on mobile phones and wifi. As there are more books in the Swann series, I look forward to reacquainting myself with Frank again very soon. I thoroughly recommend Shore Leave to anybody who enjoys a good yarn. – Deanne, VIC, 5 Stars

This is the first novel I have read by David Whish-Wilson and I thoroughly enjoyed reading Shore Leave. A crime story with twists and turns that kept me motivated and trying to guess the outcome. There are a number of relatable characters in the book, but Shore Leave is based around the main character Frank Swann. It is 1989 and the USS Carl Vinson is in Fremantle with a crew of American sailors waiting to take their leave. Shore Leave is a story that will weave and mesh a plot of murder, revenge, corruption and relationships. This is a quality crime story, well written and one that I have immensely enjoyed. – Laurelle, QLD, 5 Stars

I loved this book from the first to last page. Set in a beautiful part of Western Australia. Murder and mayhem, the sex trade, horny sailors and mystery and intrigue. Everything I want in a good book. – Bridget, VIC, 5 Stars

Shore Leave by David Whish-Wilson is the fourth book in the Frank Swann series. This is the first book in the series that I’ve read, so I’m excited to go back and read how Swann got to where he is. If this book is anything to go by the previous three books are going to be a great ride into the past of Australia. This one has it all. Brothels, US seamen, bikies, gold miners, the list just goes on and on. The story never loses pace and keeps the reader hooked from beginning to end. It’s a great ride of Australia in the late 80s, and Australian books and authors are on the rise. – Terry, NSW, 5 Stars

Shore Leave is set in Fremantle, Western Australia in 1989. The state is booming following Fremantle Yacht Club’s Americas Cup win and the city is crawling with American mariners – the US Carl Vinson is in port and the 5000 sailors who sail on her have shore leave. The bars and brothels are packed, two women have been murdered, some M16s are missing and a couple of the sailors have gone AWOL. Frank Swann is an ex-detective now working as a private investigator, mainly for the mining companies and the US shore patrol. He’s taken on to assist in the investigation into the death of a local sex worker who had a relationship with a US sailor, but his investigations reveal that there is a lot more going on and the local outlaw bikie gangs seem to be linked to it all. Told from various viewpoints, Whish-Wilson writes a riveting and entertaining story of corruption, greed and violence. But underneath it, there is a tender rendition of friendships and family and what brings people to do the things they do. I thoroughly enjoyed this gritty tale, and can’t wait to read more of his work. – Monique, QLD, 5 Stars

Shore Leave is the first David Whish-Wilson book I have read. It is the 4th in the Frank Swann series, but I didn’t feel like I have not missed anything by not having read the preceding three books. The chapters are short and intense, causing you turn the pages even faster to keep up with the pace of the story, which was kept interesting with several plots interwoven throughout, and a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming. It was great to hark back to Australia as it was in 1989 when mobile phones were first used and were referred to as ‘bricks’. I love reading books by Australian authors, set in Australia, as I have either visited the places in the book or have heard of them and can picture the settings. It also means that I can ‘hear’ the characters speak with Aussie accents and understand the slang used. I will certainly be looking out of more of David’s books in future. Thank you to Better Reading for the ARC. – Maree, QLD, 4 Stars

If you love a hard-nosed, gritty crime thriller, then David Whish-Wilson’s fourth addition to the Frank Swann detective series, Shore Leave, will have you charging to your local bookstore heady with anticipation. This plot-driven novel is meticulously crafted, intricately woven and expertly written. The frenetic pace keeps you nose-down as you snatch at clues in a desperate attempt to reveal a murderer and decipher who’s double-crossing who throughout this laser-focused crime spree. Racists, Nazi sympathisers, biker gangs, dirty cops, AWOL crew and missing M16s from a recently docked US Navy ship, the Carl Vinson intertwine with a record gold strike by a clueless mine speculator, and an escaped prisoner from the local Fremantle prison to dramatically complicate Frank’s investigations. Unfortunately, this leaves the plot so densely packed that there’s no room left to explore the characters in much detail. This left me feeling slightly disconnected to them, and therefore the overall outcome of this otherwise highly entertaining thriller. Regardless, Whish-Wilson delivers a tense, suspenseful novel peppered with vivid descriptions of the 1989 Perth landscape, setting a visually authentic scene for this clever crime spree to unfold in a spray of hot, bullet-fuelled mayhem. – Linda, QLD, 4 Stars

I hadn’t read any books by David Whish-Wilson and with Shore Leave being the fourth books in the Frank Swann series, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to follow the story. I didn’t have anything to worry about, Shore Leave kept me engaged with the twists and turns in the storyline. This is a well written Australian crime story and well worth reading. – Heather, NSW, 4 Stars

Set in Western Australia, this hard-hitting crime novel is full of believable characters who you might just recognise as living down the road from you. The 4th novel in the Frank Swan crime series focuses on the arrival of a US Navy ship in town and a series of seemingly unrelated crimes. Whish-Wilson serves up twists in the plot and an action-packed read which will keep you reading to the end. – Karina, QLD, 4 Stars

Shore Leave is an exciting tale set in Fremantle in 1989. Frank Swann is a likeable character who deals with ex-cons and other undesirables. I enjoyed the way the story unfolded and the twist at the end. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the previous three novels. My husband will enjoy this book too. – Julie, NSW, 4 Stars

First experience of reading a David Whish-Wilson novel and first introduction to the Frank Swann series. I found this novel easy to follow even though it is the fourth in the series. The introduction of a fresh case made it easy to follow. The short chapters and different plots made it a fast-paced, interesting read. The way the character intertwined at the end made for a nice clean ending, leaving no questions unanswered. Thoroughly enjoyed the twist at the end of the novel, definitely unexpected. I will be going back to read previous novels in the Frank Swann series. Thank you to Better Reading for my ARC in exchange for an honest review. – Jacinda, NSW, 4 Stars

Although this is not a genre that I would normally choose to read I did enjoy the road the book took me on. The author weaves a colourful mix of characters in the book and although at first, it is not obvious how they will come together, the further the reader gets into the novel, their relationships develop and the storyline unfolds. Set in Fremantle, Western Australia, the story revolves around an American Naval Ship in the Port and several crimes committed at the same time. Initially, the plot seems straightforward, but we are then led on a journey. It is a good mix of the way the characters come together initially to solve a murder, but the story also reveals the workings of theft, two bikie gangs and racism, not only in Australia but also through the American characters, involving a US Navy Officer and a retired policeman. The other characters in the book all have a plausible role in the story. A story of intrigue that has you reading the next chapter to discover more. Definitely worth a read. – Lisa, 4 Stars

Shore Leave by David Whish-Wilson paints a gritty and evocative picture of late 80s Fremantle and its underbelly of shadowy characters. The book focuses on Frank Swann, a tough, smart and widely connected ex-cop, reluctantly involved in multiple storylines that don’t appear immediately correlated. What keeps the book engaging is the neat drawing together of these narratives to a satisfying conclusion. As someone who hadn’t read the previous books in this series, the book works well as a standalone novel. So overall, if you’re a fan of authors like Peter Temple or Chris Hammer, this is well worth a read. – Jane, VIC, 4 Stars

This was my first time reading a David Whish-Wilson novel and my first introduction to the protagonist Frank Swann. I was worried my enjoyment of the book may suffer from not having read the previous books but my concern was heedless as it read very well as a stand-alone and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. This was an entertaining, fast-paced and action-packed read, and just when I thought I had everything figured out, there was a twist at the end that I definitely did not see coming. I enjoyed the many characters, the web of plot lines and the way they all eventually intersected. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good detective/crime book. I will certainly be going back to read the previous Frank Swann books now too! – Virginia, NSW, 4 Stars

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and even though it’s part of a series it can be read as a standalone. This is a well-crafted crime story with plenty to keep the reader engaged and wanting to figure out the outcome. It has a great mix of revenge, corruption, desperation and murder. I particularly liked the main character, Frank Swann, who is someone you’d want in your corner. The “villains” were multi-dimensional, which pulls you in as nothing’s ever black and white. I really enjoyed the setting of Fremantle in the late ’80s. Even though it’s not that long ago, the author painted a vivid picture of a very different time. I also liked the fact that it involved the American navy which is not something you find in your run of the mill thriller. It was obvious that the author had done his research as it felt authentic and grounded in reality. I’d recommend this to readers who are looking for a thriller that has plenty of colourful characters and set in a time and place that few of us would be familiar with. – Kecia, NSW, 4 Stars

An interesting crime story should be enjoyed by the lovers of this genre. It is easy to read and flows quickly. For me, the star was the setting and the local history. I have lived my whole life in Western Australia including 20 years near Fremantle around 1989. I enjoyed reminiscing about US warships visiting, with the crowds of sailors making the area one that young families avoided. The streets and landmarks were all familiar to me (except the interior of the brothels!) I especially enjoyed reading about the early brick cell phones, and the reference to DNA technology not being widely available. – Sue, WA, 4 Stars

Not having read the other Frank Swan books, I wasn’t sure if it would affect my understanding of Shore Leave. I needn’t have worried! The book easily stands alone and whilst there are some recurring characters (I only know that after reading about his other books!) you are told everything you need to know. A crime story set in Fremantle with some bad things happening once the US Navy comes to town. Murder, revenge, love, family – there’s a bit of everything in this one. I must admit, I lost track of the different storylines a couple of times but they slowly started to intertwine with a couple of unexpected twists. It still kept me captivated, desperate to know the end game. – Katrina, VIC, 4 Stars

This is the only book I’ve read in this series, but it didn’t seem to matter. The characters were well developed and easy to become familiar and acquainted with. Good crime fiction, fast-paced and nice masculine characters. Plenty of people to like and hate. Although this is not my usual genre, I really enjoyed it and may read more of this author. – Ros, ACT, 4 Stars

Shore Leave follows retired detective Frank Swann as he investigates the disappearance of a US sailor. Swann’s good-guy image makes you want him to succeed. There are a few different strands and plot twists that ensure that the reader is captivated until the final page. Fans of crime fiction will love this. – Anne, VIC, 3 Stars

Shore Leave was not the type of book that I would generally pick up at the library or book store. I felt it was targeted for a male audience (but I will still say I enjoyed it). A crime thriller with heavy military and police themes – it did feel as though I was experiencing the Western Australian biker scene in an earlier time. I would give the book 3/5 for its strong protagonist and array of side characters. It wasn’t an un-putdownable read, but I did enjoy how the narratives all came together in conclusion. Great Christmas gift for the dad/stepdad or grandfather in your life! – Michelle, SA, 3 Stars

I have just finished previewing Shore Leave by David Whish-Wilson and although I am not a great fan of crime novels, I found that once I familiarised myself with the characters I was drawn into the story and enjoyed the content. It is a well-written book with great attention to detail, allowing images of the written word to form in your mind taking you to the scene of the action. It is a page-turner, leading you to the unpredictable ending. This book did broaden my outlook on life, I must admit, leading me to believe that (I hate to say it) a male reader would appreciate this ‘whodunit’ more than I. It was an enjoyable novel, and I am pleased that I was given the opportunity to read the book. – Laurel, NSW, 3 Stars

An intriguing Aussie cop drama set in the 80s. Fast-paced and action-packed, at times a little hard to follow due to the lingo. I loved the character of Frank Swann! – Rachel, QLD, 3 Stars

Great book. Continual events to keep you guessing until the end. –Brodie, VIC, 3 Stars

Shore Leave is a hearty mix of mystery and intrigue driven by speculative crime fiction, amid a backdrop of a local brothel, and an international US Navy ship. The story is told from three male protagonists with complex pasts, set in a Port City of Fremantle in 1989. This is the fourth novel in the Frank Swann series, however, without reading the first three novels, I felt like I have known Swann forever. The very masculine characters are captivating and their development is strong within the first ten chapters, the author gives the reader a real understanding of what motivates these characters and the common elements between the women who work in the brothel, the bikies, the sailors, the cons and ex-cons, The US Navy and the local law enforcement. The complexities and cleverly plotted criminal components ensure the reader can never get too complacent with the story. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, Shore Leave lead me down an uncertain and dangerous staircase. The chapters are short and sharp so you won’t be able to put it down once you start! If this book was a character I would describe it as tall, dark and brooding. – Emily, VIC, 3 Stars

This is the fourth book in a series staring Frank Swann. Because of this, it was hard to get to know the characters until a quarter into the book. Although it was only 244 pages the small print and spacing made it seem much longer. The chapters are quite short and each jumps to different characters and settings. Set in 1989 when a US Navy Aircraft carrier is in the dock in Fremantle, Swann is asked to investigate the murder of two women by a senior naval officer. Are the murders linked to the US Navy? The story involves greed, family, corruption and revenge. Racist bikie gangs are involved and the language is quite confronting. – Vivien, ACT, 2 Stars


Your Preview Verdict: Shore Leave by David Whish-Wilson

Review | Preview

4 November 2020

Your Preview Verdict: Shore Leave by David Whish-Wilson

    Better Reading Preview: Shore Leave by David Whish-Wilson

    Review | Preview

    22 September 2020

    Better Reading Preview: Shore Leave by David Whish-Wilson

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          It is Fremantle in 1989 and Frank is at home, suffering from an undiagnosed nd debilitating illness. When Frank is called in to investigate an incident at a local brothel, it soon appears there is a link between the death of two women and the arrival of the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in the port city. Shore Leave is the fourth book in the Frank Swann series. It also features Lee Southern, the main character from True West.
          David Whish-Wilson
          About the author

          David Whish-Wilson

          David Whish-Wilson is an acclaimed crime-writer and academic who grew up between NSW, Singapore, Victoria and WA. He left Australia aged eighteen to live for a decade in Europe, Africa and Asia, where he worked as a barman, actor, street-seller, petty criminal, labourer, exterminator, factory worker, gardener, clerk, travel agent, teacher and drug-trial guinea pig. He now lives in Fremantle and coordinates the creative writing program at Curtin University.

          Books by David Whish-Wilson


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