Crackenback by Lee Christine is the second in the crime series featuring Detective Sergeant Pierce Ryder of the Sydney Homicide Squad. I have not read the first in the series, but you certainly don’t need to in order to enjoy this novel (although I will be adding the first in the series, Charlotte Pass, to my reading stack.)
Ryder has been on the hunt for Gavin Hutton for many months. Hutton is the prime suspect in a couple of very violent murders, neither of which seem to have a motive or be connected. A couple of new leads come in which lead Ryder to the Snowy Mountains and he’s clearly hoping this will be the breakthrough he needs and not another dead end.
In the meantime, we meet Eva Bell who manages a remote lodge at Thredbo. Suddenly her lodge is invaded by her ex-lover, Jack Walker, who is clearly injured and desperate. At first, Eva thinks he is there for her daughter Poppy but soon the real reason for his presence becomes clearer and is more frightening.
The story follows Ryder as he discovers more about Hutton and his motivation and starts to work out the links between the murders. Will he be there in time to stop another one?
This is a novel which quickly draws the reader in, it’s full of dread and mystery. We know Hutton is out there and his path will cross with the main characters at some point but where and when? The author builds the suspense so well, at times outwardly Eva has to behave normally and interact with her neighbours but all the time she’s looking out, terrified Hutton is watching and about to strike.
The remoteness and beauty of the Snowy Mountains and surrounding national park are well described, it’s a stunningly lovely place but clearly, an ideal environment for a fugitive to hide out in.
The characters are well-drawn and we learn a little of the backgrounds of some of the minor characters, perhaps in future novels in this series, the reader will discover more about some of these characters including Ryder’s colleagues, Flowers (known as Daisy) and Sterling.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Crackenback, it’s great to read an Australian crime novel which is full of suspense with characters that are appealing and believable, obviously, the appealing part doesn’t refer to Hutton!
Many thanks to Allen and Unwin and Beauty and Lace Book Club for the chance to read this novel. I will look out for further novels in the Detective Sergeant Ryder series.
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Crackenback by Lee Christine. You can read their comments below or add your own review.
ISBN: 978-1-76087-890-0 / Publisher: Allen and Unwin
I was brought up on the classics in the UK but now I’m a Pozzie (British by Birth, Australian by choice) I’m enjoying discovering Australian works, we have some terrific storytellers. I’ve been a member of a local book club for a decade or so and that has also widened my choice of reading. I agree wholeheartedly with Stephen King: “Books are a uniquely portable magic”