Book Review: David Whish-Wilson’s Shore Leave is a well-paced edgy thriller full of local flare

Shore Leave

Shore Leave centres around an American Naval vessel that docks in Fremantle in 1989. The drama that surrounds that vessel and the sailors onboard will be etched in the minds of many locals for years to come. 

Readers are introduced to a range of characters, a criminal with six months left on their prison sentence; an ex-cop with a debilitating illness; and a US Marine armed with an almighty chip on his shoulder. If that weren’t enough, throw in the grisly discovery of two murdered women, the CIB detective branch and some homegrown Australian gang action. 

Luckily the legendary Frank Swann is on the case. 

Swann has seen it all. Shore Leave is the fourth outing for Frank Swann penned by author David Whish-Wilson. Swann, with the help of his friend aboard the ship – Master-at-Arms Steve Webb, the two must side against (and with) detective Mike Cassidy to solve the murder. All whilst navigating the choppy waters of local gangs and obnoxious Navy boys. 

Shore Leave has all the local slang and mate ship you would expect from a local author. Whish-Wilson, has also managed to successfully capture the sense of boisterous masculine camaraderie you’d expect from the crew of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. With an expansive supporting cast of characters, you’ll grow to enjoy the company of many of them; and loathe more than a few too. 

This is not a book I would generally choose for myself; but I found it to be an enjoyable read, with plenty of intertwining stories to keep me occupied. The pacing is wonderful, with smaller chapters, allowing for the storyline to flow with ease, quickly bringing the reader up to speed with the many unfolding situations. 

Shore Leave is, as mentioned, the fourth Frank Swann novel from Whish-Wilson. Inspired in part by his time spent serving drinks and breaking up bar brawls as a barman in Tokyo, where most of his clientele were US sailers, Shore Leave, like its predecessors can be read as a stand-alone novel. 

Bikers, murder, revenge, navy boys and a hot Western Australian summer all make Shore Leave a great read. It is reminiscent of the works of James Patterson, Clive Cussler or Matthew Riley, but at the same time, quintessentially Australian. 

Shore Leave


David Whish-Wilson’s novel Shore Leave is out now, from Fremantle Press. Grab yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.

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