Review: Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry

Title: Dead Heat

Author: Bronwyn Parry

Published: Hachette Australia April 2012

Synopsis: 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. Read an Excerpt.

Status: Read from April 06 to 07, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Hachette Australia}

My Thoughts:

Set in Australia’s rural scrub, Dead Heat is an thrilling story of suspense and romance. National Parks ranger Jo Lockwood stumbles across a body at an isolated picnic ground, the young man had been tortured before his death and drugs are found at the scene. Detective Nick Matheson is brought in to investigate and with his past experience as an undercover officer, recognises that Jo is at risk from the assassin, especially as the body count rises and it becomes clear there is a leak in the task force. Threatened by police corruption, bush fire and a ruthless gang of drug crazed killers, Jo and Nick are forced to fight for their lives.

With its somewhat grisly opening, it quickly becomes clear that Dead Heat places the emphasis on the suspense elements of the book. The country is often viewed as an idyllic setting free from the crime that plagues urban centers but Parry demonstrates it is also an ideal setting for illegal activity given its isolation. This is a strongly plotted novel that incorporates organised crime, police corruption, gang activity and murder in a fast paced and exciting story. I reluctantly put it aside only to attend to my family’s pleas for a meal. The threat from a sniper keeps the tension wound tight as does the brutality of the deaths of those connected with the case, the violence is not gratuitous but is fairly explicit. There are some great twists, a conscienceless killer means his moves are unpredictable, and while not all of the elements of the plot are credible, the action keeps the pages turning.
I had expected that Jo would be the key protagonist of Dead Heat but she shares the role with Nick and the third person perspective means we know what they are both thinking and feeling. I liked Jo but her characters reserve prevented me from identifying strongly with her. I didn’t feel I learnt as much about her, apart from her love for the job and her grief at the loss of her fiance, as I would have liked. Nick’s history helps to flesh out his character, his tragic childhood plays a part in the drama of Dead Heat as does his complicated immediate past as an undercover officer.
The romantic relationship between Jo and Nick relies on a physical attraction that is intensified by the tense circumstances they find themselves in. Both are shy of commitment, Jo’s fiance died in a search and rescue incident and Nick has avoided relationships for years due to the dangerous nature of his undercover work. Though accelerated, their connection that doesn’t feel forced and sensibly, Parry doesn’t insist they declare undying love for each other but makes the potential of the relationship clear.

Bronwyn Parry is another author I have discovered thanks to the Australian Women Writers challenge, this is her third book and I have every intention of reading the first two, As Darkness Falls and Dark Country. Dead Heat is an exciting and engaging blend of crime, suspense and romantic fiction, with interesting characters and a fast paced story in an uniquely Australia setting.

Available to Purchase

@Amazon (Kindle) I @Boomerang Books I @Booktopia I @Readings

About the Author

Bronwyn’s eclectic background includes an Honours degree in social history and English, and a range of work experiences – HR in a hospital, youth worker, dance teacher, organisational development manager, educational designer, and now occasional academic. She grew up surrounded by books, with a love of reading and stories. Commercial fiction, literary fiction, children’s literature, history – her bookshelves are forever overflowing. Academically, she is particularly interested in story-telling and readership in popular fiction, and is currently undertaking a part-time PhD, researching online communities of romance readers and writers and their perspectives on the genre. Born in Melbourne, she now lives on 100 acres of beautiful bushland in the New England tablelands, with my husband and two energetic border collies.

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Also by Bronwyn Parry

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. 1girl2manybooks
    Apr 11, 2012 @ 12:09:56

    Am very keen to read this one!

    Like

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  2. The Australian Bookshelf
    Apr 11, 2012 @ 18:02:49

    Great review Shelleyrae! Now you have to pick up As Darkness Falls- i loved this one just as much! I’m hoping to track down Dark Country at my local used books store this weekend 🙂

    Like

    Reply

  3. hersunday
    Apr 12, 2012 @ 00:25:35

    Side question- How do you create those stars that you tagged this with? I am amazed at how quickly you fly through books! Jealous too- you are able to get so much more in than I could ever dream, haha.

    Like

    Reply

  4. MonieG
    Apr 12, 2012 @ 00:51:17

    I love romatic suspense. This one sounds great. Thanks for the review!

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    Reply

  5. Trackback: FRIDAY FEAST with Bronwyn Parry «
  6. Trackback: Crime 2012 releases: What’s being reviewed? | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog
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