I have to admit, when I saw the quote on the cover from the Australian Women’s Weekly, talking about how Bronwyn Parry’s books are ‘thriller romance vividly set in the NSW outback’, I rolled my eyes. (Picnic at Hanging Rock anyone?) So my expectations were to have colonial tunes and square dance sequences frequenting the pages, because that is the limit of my knowledge of the NSW outback.
I’m also not afraid to admit when I’ve been stupidly selling someone short.
Jo, the new park ranger in an outback community, finds the gruesome remains of and unknown man whilst cleaning up a trashed a camp site. Nick is the new detective, and when the case turns into something bigger than the small town can handle, all hell breaks loose. Can Nick crack the case before anyone else turns up dead, and who is the mystery man on the motorcycle?
Bronwyn writes an intelligent mystery, with high levels of intrigue to keep you towing the line until there is no more line to follow and you’re left looking for the next chapter. Her research (in my layman mind) has been thorough, and she has done her sources proud in the way she uses their information to enhance and build suspense, rather than writing a dry tasteless research paper with a pretty cover.
Her characters are genuine gold. You can see Jo in the eyes of every woman who knows the land, and you’d want Nick to help save your life any day of the week. They feel real; practically sprinting out of the pages at you as you read.
The New South Wales outback is somewhere I have never been, so the description helped bring to life the beauty and the danger involved with such a harsh unforgiving environment. Knowing the land can save your life, and living in remote communities is really unlike living anywhere else. Being self-reliant is key. Only the strongest and the smartest survive.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go look for Bronwyn’s other books, As Darkness Falls and Dark Country, so I can devour them as thoroughly as I did Dead Heat.
Oh, and here’s links to the Queensland and New South Wales Rural Fire Service. They can always use some support.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Hachette Australia