BOOK CLUB: Dead Heat

Author: Bronwyn Parry
ISBN: 978-0-7336-2549-7
RRP: $32.99

Dead Heat is my introduction to Australian romantic suspense writer Bronwyn Parry and one that is long overdue if this book is anything to go by.

I got the blurb for this a couple of weeks ago and have been hanging out to get my eyes on it. It arrived when I was in the middle of another book, as usual, and had quite a to-do list to get through. Having it sit next to me on my desk certainly spurred me to get through everything quickly so I could make a start.

Once I made the start that was the end of me and now here I am, an hour after I got prepared to call it a night with quite a chunk to read in the morning and I got handcuffed to the book, I swear I did, with my eyes propped open so I couldn’t look away. It doesn’t really matter why I’m still up, but the book is finished and it’s time to share my thoughts.

dead heat

The scenery is a shining star in this novel, vividly detailing the bushland National Parks in NSW. The perspective is 3rd person but the majority of the story is focused on Jo Lockwood who is a park ranger so we still see through her eyes and she is a very observant woman who pays extreme attention to detail. As a park ranger it is to be expected that the outback holds significant fascination for her, as does the native wildlife and we are treated to that fascination with the descriptions and observations of the landscapes and animals that she comes across in her work.

Jo’s attention to detail and keen powers of observation come in handy time and time again throughout the book and go a long way to saving her life, the problem is that it is those same powers of observation that put her in danger in the first place.

Detective Nick Matheson has recently been posted to the area in a major change of pace from the undercover roles he has been playing over the past decade. Career credentials like that would make you think his powers of observation are also extremely well honed and you would be correct.

A lot of the suspense throughout this book is related to issues that I wouldn’t necessarily pair with the outback, the arguments for it are logical and plausible but they are still things that I would expect in cities rather than national parks out the back of beyond which goes a long way to making Dead Heat even harder to put down, if only for a much needed sleep.

The characters, well to be honest the main characters broke my heart. Both Jo and Nick  have survived events that leave them emotionally damaged and closed off from personal attachments. They both have routines set in place to make sure their control never slips, to move past the possibility of emotional reactions and ‘get on with it’. While this can be an admirable trait in moderation and in the right circumstances it is not always good for long term mental health.

Dead Heat brings Nick and Jo together in the investigation of her grisly find, an investigation that gets deeper at every turn. Just how much are they set to learn about themselves before the dying pages? That’s something I am not going to risk revealing to you, you’ll have to read it for yourselves.

Bronwyn Parry’s writing style is fluid and engaging with suspense that builds progressively and some fabulous twists that then leave you looking back to see if you could spot the clues.

Considering I have been away from my deeply rooted love of all things horror for quite some time I have lost some of my de-sensitisation and a couple of the grislier passages made me physically shudder.

The only one issue I had with the reading of this book is a very minor one but it did stick with me and even now it just doesn’t seem to fit for me. There is a scene about halfway through where Nick walks into a room and there’s a crisp packet on the table, and it really jumped out at me. This book is very Australian and everything struck me as Australian except for that one tiny mention of a crisp packet, which I didn’t think was an Australian term.

Now I’m extremely happy with this book, I loved it! So in the long run one crisp packet is inconsequential – which begs the question why did I bring it up. To tell the truth I don’t rightly know but it did strike me as odd so I thought I would mention it in case I’m not the only one.

A great read that I am thrilled to have finally read, and I will definitely be on the lookout for more of her work.

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