Series: Goodabri Series

Storm Clouds by Bronwyn Parry

Storm Clouds by Bronwyn ParryStorm Clouds by Bronwyn Parry
Series: Goodabri Series, #2
Published by Hachette Australia on January 13th 2015
Pages: 356
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National Parks ranger Erin Taylor loves her job, is falling for her colleague, Simon, and is finally leaving her past behind . . .
Until a woman is murdered. But the victim is not just any woman – she’s Simon’s wife, Hayley. The wife he’s never mentioned. The wife he’s not seen in fourteen years. On the edge of the national park the alternative lifestyle ‘Community of Bliss’ denies knowledge of Hayley, but Simon and Erin suspect otherwise. Erin will have to draw on all her old skills – deception, lying, cheating – to gain the trust of its members and discover their secrets.
As Simon uncovers shocking details about the reclusive group, Erin is drawn further into their midst and finds a web of lies, decades old – and comes face-to-face with the charismatic, manipulative, dangerous leader who will let nothing and no-one stand in his way. On the wrong side of a river in flood that has become a lethal torrent, Erin and Simon must race to expose the truth and prevent a tragedy . . .

When Simon Kennedy returns after 2 months away from his duties, finding his dead wife in his house sets a series of events in motion that’s beyond his control, and jeopardises his growing affection for his colleague and friend, Erin Taylor. But because he has played his cards so close to his chest, the revelations about Simon’s past career and marriage can only come as a shock and a betrayal to Erin. Thrown deep into an investigation involving sinister cultish practices, Erin and Simon find themselves battling demons of a past they’d rather keep buried.

Storm Clouds is a chilling but wonderful metaphor for the building tension, and although it takes a rather predictable narrative route, Brownyn Parry weaves a tight and drawn-out thriller in the Australian bush. The romance takes a back seat as always – even though Erin’s and Simon’s needs are more drawn out than all the other characters in Ms. Parry’s novels – where the RST is almost a disappointing afterthought meant to mollify female readers after the heaps of sexual tension that runs through the pages. Ms Parry’s characters however, are memorable in their own right: steady, mature…and so very committed to whatever cause that they’ve given themselves to.

I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the ending given the cascade of events after the climax (it’d be unrealistic after all, to expect all loose strings to be tied up), but I suppose the promise of ‘we’ll deal with it as it comes’ is as good as it gets with a Brownwyn Parry novel.


Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry

Dead Heat by Bronwyn ParryDead Heat by Bronwyn Parry
Series: Goodabri Series #1
Published by Hachette Australia on March 27th 2012
Pages: 352
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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 fail, Nick and Jo will need to trust each other completely, and use all their skills and knowledge in order to survive.

Dead Heat is Bronwyn Parry’s latest undertaking apart from her Dungirri series and a very engaging read despite the narrative and structural similarities – murder, police corruption, organised crime’s shady activities – that drive the plots of her other books. While Parry’s obvious love of the unique Australian rural landscape shines through very clearly in every book that she writes, the biggest draw for me are her characters, who are principled, somewhat tortured but rational enough to put the foibles of the stereotypical romance types to shame.

In Dead Heat, we’ve Detective Nick Matheson and National Park ranger Jo Lockwood whose paths cross after a grisly find in the bush. The slow burn between them was skilfully and realistically handled but I came away feeling like I didn’t know Jo as well as Nick, apart from a defining accident that has largely shaped her wary stance towards commitment and relationships. Nevertheless, I greatly appreciate that Nick and Jo don’t exhibit any of the stereotypical behaviour that I’ve come to associate with romances – sudden, overwhelming, jealousy, over-protective and possessive behaviour, senseless and brainless females.