Review: Blood River by Tony Cavanaugh


Title: Blood River

Author: Tony Cavanaugh

Published: April 23rd 2019, Hachette

Status: Read April 2019 – courtesy Hachette/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

Blood River is a discomforting yet compelling crime novel which unfolds over two decades from multiple perspectives.

It’s 1999 In Brisbane when “Lara, the youngest detective in the Squad, ever, a twentysomething Asian woman with dyed blonde hair and Billy, the oldest detective in the Squad, with the fiercest reputation in the state of Queensland, ever, an old school copper who would smash a suspect over the head, dangle him from a balcony or just forge a confession from him.” are called to the scene of a horrific murder.

Over a three week period, two more bodies are discovered with signature injuries, including the symbol of Taranus, the Celtic God of Thunder, carved into their flesh. Lara and Billy come up with three suspects, one of them Lara’s violent ex boyfriend, but under pressure from the media and officials, 17 year old Jennifer White is accused and eventually convicted of the three murders, despite the flimsiest of evidence.

Meanwhile, the real killer goes free.

“Fear is His word for man. Aoife is His word for woman. I am going to do it again. Another fear kill. I am going to do it again. Soon.”

Nineteen years later, Lara is the police commissioner, Billy has retired, and Jennifer, despite the objection of the state’s Attorney General, is finally paroled.

“There was also something else, something that had bothered me as I prepared to be paroled. I kept this to myself, my own private fear. That the real killer would take advantage of my release and kill again. I am no longer him. I am now his perfect alibi.”

Cavanaugh’s complex characters are fully realised portraits that add depth and interest to the story. Lara in particular is a fascinating personality with a rich backstory. What I also found of interest were the insights Cavanaugh offers into some of the characters who could be said to be only tangentially related to the main thrust of the plot, but nevertheless less impact it, or the main characters, in significant ways.

The shifts in narrative perspective are stimulating, moving between an omniscient viewpoint and individual characters. It can be difficult, on occasion, to immediately identify each ‘voice’, though I think that may have been in large part because of the poor formatting of my advance reader copy.

Blood River is quite different from Cavanaugh’s series featuring Darian Richards, which I loved, though they do share some similar themes, such as police corruption, women in policing, and the failings of the justice system.

With a final reveal I didn’t see coming at all (a rare event I must note), Blood River is a clever, gritty and engrossing story. This is another impressive crime novel from Australian author, Tony Cavanaugh.

Read an Excerpt


Available to Purchase via

Hachette I Booko I Booktopia I Amazon AU

Book Depository I Amazon US


Also by Tony Cavanaugh on Book’d Out

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