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Book Review: Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry

“National Parks Ranger Jo Lockwood is often alone in the wilderness, and she likes it that way – until she discovers the body of a man, brutally murdered.

Detective Nick Matheson’s new posting to the north-west of New South Wales is supposed to be an uneventful return to normal duties and a normal life.  He knows organised crime from the inside out and suspects that the victim in the camping ground is not an isolated murder.
Jo is committed to helping the investigation but she has seen the killer’s face and now she’s at risk.  Nick’s determined to protect her but as the body count starts mounting, his past and present collide, threatening the people he cares about most.
Trapped in rugged country in scorching summer heat, pursued by hunters who can’t afford to fall, Nick and Jo will need to trust each other completely, and use all their skills and knowledge if they want to survive.”
The Australian Outback – what an awesome and refreshingly different setting for romantic suspense.
Our heroine is Jo Lockwood who is employed as a National Parks Ranger in the New South Wales outback.  A newcomer to Goodabri, and after having suffered a tragic loss of her own five years before, she hasn’t yet had a chance to make many friends besides her work colleagues.  By no means a recluse or an introvert, she loves her job and prefers the tranquillity of the scrub.
That tranquil world is turned upside down when, on a routine inspection of one of the park camping grounds, she discovers that it has been well and truly trashed.  She alerts her boss to this fact and, promising that she’ll photograph and document the destruction while she waits for either him or the police to arrive, and along with the help of a lone dingo, she discovers the gruesome remains of a murdered man.
Nick Matheson, our hero, a man with great inner strength and discipline, arrives on the scene.  Called in to investigate this gruesome discovery, it is his first case since taking up “normal duties” in the little town of Goodabri.  Haunted by his own dark past and emotionally stretched by past events, for 10 years he has lived immersed in undercover roles and it appears that little else remains of the man he once knew.  A boy who grew into a man with the “docks” of Sydney as his playground, his past is about to dangerously collide with his present as Jo threatens to unravel his defences.
With the body count continuing to rise, we are drawn into a tale where danger lurks at every corner and there are some close encounters that will leave you breathless with anticipation as the killer and his brazen cohorts close in on Jo, making attempts on her life, but with Nick, who is determined to keep her safe, close behind.
As with all books in this genre, but without all the mushy, too-soon “I love you’s” that we so frequently see, there is bound to be a love scene.
Not detracting at all from the main storyline, where corruption, bush fires, violence, drugs and murder merge to form the basis for extreme suspense and intrigue, Bronwyn Parry has tastefully and tenderly written the bringing together of these two emotionally wounded characters.  Being a sucker for a good love scene where my characters’ emotions are laid bare for all to see, and after Ms Parry skilfully drew me in to these characters lives and deeply personal thoughts, this scene brought tears to my eyes.
With all her Australian colloquialisms, vivid descriptions of the outback – which I have not yet had the honour of visiting – and a smattering of symbolism which I thought was warranted, Bronwyn Parry has created a fast-paced, truly “‘stralian” novel with strong, resilient protagonists alive with character and a story with lots of intrigue and plenty of twists to keep the pages turning well into the night.

This is the first book by Bronwyn Parry that I have had the pleasure of reading, and I did so as part of a group reading challenge on Goodreads.  Boy am I glad I did, as I have just discovered another brilliant Aussie writer who has earned herself a place on my bookshelves.

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