All The Books I Can Read

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Review: Deadman’s Track by Sarah Barrie

on August 6, 2020

Deadman’s Track 
Sarah Barrie
Harlequin AUS
2020, 416p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

A tragic accident, a terrible crime, an unknown threat …

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.

Time is running out, and death is stalking them both …

This book is connected to Sarah Barrie’s two previous novels, Bloodtree River and Devil’s Lair but can really be read stand-alone. Tess, the main character in this one is a sister to two of the previous main male characters and has appeared before but this is the first time she really takes full focus. She works guiding guests from the family eco-lodge and other tourists on guided hikes around Federation Peak and surrounding areas. She also works with search and rescue and at the beginning of this book she experiences a tragedy after someone she is guiding doesn’t listen to her instructions and is determined to do something when the conditions are too dangerous. Her experience has a marked effect on her and she is struggling with some of the aspects of her job, particularly the parts that revolve around heights. All of this is a normal experience but it’s giving her boyfriend Aaron a chance to smother her. Suffering a crisis of confidence, Tess isn’t sure whether or not Aaron is right and maybe she should be just letting him dictate her future.

Detective Senior Sergeant Jared Denham started with a string of burglaries that escalated suddenly when two prominent, wealthy people were murdered on a yacht and a large amount of jewellery stolen. He is under enormous pressure to solve this murder and with it, the burglaries as well, especially as the deeper he goes, the more bodies he finds piling up. He’s getting close to Tess for a couple of reasons, the two of them crossing paths, making Tess realise that maybe she has other options and Aaron and his smothering ways might not be for the best.

This book was such a ride!

And I should be used to that by now, because I know how excellent Sarah Barrie is at crafting a book that takes the reader on a journey of suspense that lays careful groundwork, builds slowly but expertly until all of a sudden you realise that your heart is in your mouth and the atmosphere is frantic and dangerous and incredibly compelling as well. She excels at using the wilderness in Tasmania, the remoteness of parts of it as well as a living, breathing character as well that often works both with and against the main characters as they fight to keep themselves out of danger.

There are a couple of stories running parallel through the book for the most part, before they merge towards the end. Tess and her recovery from tragedy is one part of the story as well as her relationship with her boyfriend Aaron and how it’s not going particularly well. She’s been trying to feel things, wanting to feel things but it hasn’t necessarily been working and Aaron has been displaying a red flag or two as well which is concerning some of the people closest to her. Tess is close to both of her sisters-in-law – detective Indy and also Callie as well and they are supportive toward her as she works through the tough situation. Indy working with Jared also means that Tess and he cross paths quite often and they have an interesting rapport.

I enjoyed the story of Jared investigating the burglaries and how that scenario escalated sharply. Barrie constructs a situation where you can see a vulnerable person being taken advantage of, because they’re struggling to make ends meet and they have responsibilities that require money. They’re working what is no doubt a minimum wage job with little in the way of chance for progression but something that pays just enough for them to scrape by and provide the bare bones. It’s easy for many people to spot a weakness there and exploit it and not only that, to craft a situation where suddenly, that roped in person becomes not just an unwilling accomplice, but something much more dangerous. I felt a lot of sympathy for his person even though he was led astray into doing some incredibly terrible things. The situation was really not black and white and I thought this was addressed very well.

The latter part of the novel, which involves Tess leading a group on a hike through southern Tasmania and merges the story of Tess with the story of the burglaries, is amazing. Tess is experienced, although she was kind of roped into taking this job at a time of year when she normally would not have and it doesn’t start the best, with several of the young men not really being prepared to listen to her and thinking they know better. That soon becomes the least of her problems though as strange things start to happen, sinister things and it gets more and more terrifying. I spent most of my time reading this section in a high state of anxiety as things escalated and Tess is cut off from being able to communicate their terror and distress to the outside world. There are two potential perpetrators and the stress was real waiting for Jared to figure out who it was and whether or not they’d be able to orchestrate something in time.

This was brilliant. Absolutely loved it, another incredible romantic suspense from Sarah Barrie.


Book #148 of 2020


One response to “Review: Deadman’s Track by Sarah Barrie

  1. Great review, I agree that Barrie is pretty brilliant

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