I read and reviewed Australian author Sarah Barrie’s last book The Devil’s Lair, in which we meet some of the characters here and I enjoy series (such as those by Fleur McDonald and Karen Rose) that centre around a group of characters, focusing on different ones each book while introducing new players… so they’re loosely related. It doesn’t matter if you’ve not read the predecessors but you’re offered a bit of context if you have.
Here we’re focussed on Tess, a hiking guide and Jared, a police detective. When we meet her Tess has suffered a tragic accident and grappling with a controlling wannabe boyfriend. She’s a little fragile so we can see she’s gonna make some bad decisions – namely taking hikers on a trek that she doesn’t think is a good idea.
I really liked Tess and Jared and appreciated that Barrie doesn’t spend significant amounts of time on the will they / won’t they game. I felt the boyfriend (Aaron) situation was perhaps a little underdone / underdeveloped, so not entirely believable and would have preferred that storyline be ditched completely. Particularly in the latter stages.
In parallel we meet Jai, a young man in love with university student Riley who’s planning a hike for her 21st birthday. He works for Riley’s pawnbroker dad and takes care of his grandfather who suffers from dementia. He’s struggling to make ends meet when a dodgy work colleague offers him the chance to make a bit of extra money and he’s soon in over his head.
Again Barrie creates an atmospheric sense of ‘place’ as the group hikes the southern coastline of Tasmania. I’m not a climber, abseiler or hiker and don’t know Tasmania at all but Barrie convincingly transports us there and offers heart-in-mouth moments.
This is well paced and it’s easily to become invested in our characters’ fates – though I felt we rushed a little to the climax. I couldn’t understand why there were still so many pages to go with everything seemingly resolved, but Barrie throws in a twist. I think I would have preferred more on the main storyline and for it to be eked out a little as I had to re-read bits to check on peoples’ fate! (Yes, possessive plural, Barrie doesn’t hold back so don’t expect rainbows and kittens.)Deadman's Track
by Sarah Barrie
Published by Harlequin Enterprises (Australia) Pty Ltd
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Scarred by a recent tragedy on Federation Peak, Tess Atherton is reluctant to guide a group of young hikers in the wild Tasmanian winter, but it seems safer than remaining amid the violence that threatens them in Hobart. Little does she know that she has brought the danger with her ...
Detective Senior Sergeant Jared Denham is closing in on a serial killer, but someone doesn't want him getting to the truth and the case is becoming personal. He already owes Tess his life, and wants to return the favour - but when it comes to enemies, Jared may be looking in the wrong direction.
Deadman’s Track by Sarah Barrie was published in Australia by HQ Fiction (Harper Collins) and is now available.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.