All The Books I Can Read

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Review: Bloodtree River by Sarah Barrie

on April 27, 2018

Bloodtree River
Sarah Barrie
Harlequin AUS
2018, 352p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

From the author of the bestselling Hunters Ridge series comes this stand-alone twisty rural suspense, this time set against the dark backdrop of Tasmanian mountains. Indiana O’Meara is no stranger to the forces of evil.

Her own past is full of violence. Now a policewoman, Indy is always fighting to redeem herself and defeat the dark. So when girls begin to go missing at a remote cattle station in Tasmania, she is quick to agree to go undercover to investigate chief suspect, the owner of Calico Mountain Lodge, Logan Atherton, even though last time she went undercover it came to a bloody end. But her early encounter with Logan Atherton reveals a man full of contradictions. His deep empathy for horses and those he cares for is obvious but he is also taciturn to the point of rudeness, and there is a strange atmosphere at the lodge. It doesn’t add up. As Indy begins to dig deeper into the secrets at the Lodge, she finds herself embroiled in a murderous web more complex and terrifying than she could ever have imagined…

I’m a huge fan of Sarah Barrie’s romantic suspense novels. Her Hunter’s Ridge trilogy are probably three of my favourites in the genre. Although readers of that book will pick this one up and find a couple of familiar faces, it’s not strictly necessary to have read those before beginning this. It helps a bit for some basic background and it’s good to see Indy get her story but if you haven’t read any of the others (which I suggest you do!) you won’t be left behind.

Detective Indy O’Meara is gathering information to bring down a drug kingpin in Sydney when an undercover opportunity in Tasmania comes her way. Girls keep going missing, all seemingly having worked at the same cattle property although only one body has been found. Grave fears are held for the wellbeing of several others and Indy is to go in looking for a job, hoping to gather information and perhaps even tempt the suspect. Most eyes seem to be on Logan Atherton but despite extensive questioning and searches, nothing concrete has been found.

It’s decided that as a part of Indy’s cover she should appear meek, submissive, give off the impression of being alone. But Indy is anything but meek and submissive and she immediately draws attention to herself the moment she arrives looking for a job. Some of that attention comes from Logan Atherton himself and Indy is immediately conflicted. She definitely needs to be wary of him – in most cases he’s the last person to see these women alive and he’s the chief suspect. But even though he can be decidedly difficult, there’s something about him. He’s hiding things and he can be bluntly rude but she’s not convinced he’s some kind of violent murderer. She knows that she can uncover what is going on but if Indy’s wrong….the price could be her life.

This was such a rollercoaster of a ride! I absolutely loved the setting – good to see Indy heading out of the city of Sydney and to Tasmania. I don’t read a lot of books set in Tassie and the landscape is just perfect for this type of story. Thick bushland, remote properties, it lends itself well to the sort of undercover type of work that Indy was doing. Armed with a good resume, she gets herself a job where she needs to and sets about observing the goings on and trying to figure out whether or not someone really is either kidnapping these women and keeping them somewhere, possibly torturing them, or murdering them. In such terrain, bodies could go unfound for decades.

Indy has seen and experienced a lot in her life and she brings that with her, in some ways. She’s supposed to be a bit pliable, perhaps easily charmed or persuaded but instead she finds herself unable check her nature, engaging in arguments, standing up for herself and not exactly blending in. The place is so desperate for help though (unsurprising, considering most of them keep vanishing) and although they are also suspicious about newcomers, especially with the rumours swirling around since the discovery of a woman’s body, Indy is capable enough that she is able to slot in quite easily, working in the stables with Logan.

Ah, Logan. Look, I’m going to be honest, I spent an awful lot of this book not really liking Logan. He seems deliberately antagonistic just for the sheer pleasure of it, he’s a bit too much of a smart-arse who seems unconcerned about the women that have disappeared and the fact that he’s in the gun for it. And also he manhandles Indy in a scene that really annoyed me. It’s not a particularly great picture to paint and although it was meant in kind of tongue in cheek play or comeuppance for Indy, I didn’t really feel as though she warranted it. Actually, no one really warrants that. Indy is for all intents and purposes, an employee and should be treated respectfully. Not tossed around like a child’s toy.

Logan did grow on me, the further into the book I got but the strength was the suspense portion of this book and the way in which Sarah Barrie wove that together. The more Indy uncovered, the more complicated everything became and the more intrigued I got. There were so many things that I didn’t suspect – and people that I didn’t suspect of being involved. When things were revealed though, I could see how there had been a throwaway line here or there or something that made sense in hindsight. I had no idea things were going to escalate to such a degree and it was so clever. I really enjoyed that aspect of the story and how Indy managed to put things together. She was figuring things out on the fly, including some pretty insane plans once things hit the fan and there was just so much she managed to cover. Her and Ben are a great team and even though he’s managing from Sydney, you get to see them as a cohesive unit who back each other. An awesome example of a platonic partnership.

This is a really well paced, clever story that had me unable to put it down. Already I cannot wait for Sarah Barrie’s next book.


Book #78 of 2018

2 responses to “Review: Bloodtree River by Sarah Barrie

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