Review: Deadman’s Track by Sarah Barrie

Title: Deadman’s Track

Author: Sarah Barrie

Published: July 8th 2020, HQ Fiction

Status: Read July 2020 courtesy Harlequin Australia

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My Thoughts:

Evoking both the beauty and danger of Tasmania’s mountains and rugged coastline, with the capricious winter weather often mirroring the tension of the storyline, Deadman’s Track is a riveting romantic thriller from Sarah Barrie.

The story opens with a breathtaking scene as wilderness guide Tess Atherton clings to the side of Tasmania’s Federation Peak attempting to save the life of a careless client, and it’s not the last time in Deadman’s Track that she will find herself trapped in a precarious position. The nail biting plot offers plenty of fast paced, tense action that sees Tess caught in the middle of a violent robbery, stalked by an ex-boyfriend, and targeted by a psychotic killer as she leads five teenagers through the Tasmanian bush.

The youngest of the Atherton siblings who own and run Calico Lodge, (with her brothers, Logan and Connor, featured in Bloodtree River and Devil’s Lair respectively), I thought Tess was an appealing character, who In the face of both physical and emotional challenges, proved to be courageous and resilient. She is confronted with two notable antagonists in Deadman’s Track, Aaron, who doesn’t it take it well when Tess tries to end their relationship, and ex-con Paxton. The behaviour of both men serves to push her closer to Jared, a local police detective with whom Tess has some history. A likeable character, thoughtful and straightforward both personally and professionally, Jared is a good match for Tess, and I enjoyed the development of their relationship, despite the somewhat awkward timing.

It may be considered ambitious of Barrie to include intrigue, action, romance and some thoughtful social commentary in Deadman’s Track, but she does so effortlessly, creating a credible and compelling story. Exciting, atmospheric and gripping, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

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Available from Harlequin/HarperCollins Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Also by Sarah Barrie reviewed at Book’d Out

 

Review: Devil’s Lair by Sarah Barrie

 

Title: Devil’s Lair

Author: Sarah Barrie

Published: June 17th 2019, HQ Fiction

Status: Read June 2019, courtesy Harlequin Australia

+++++

My Thoughts:

Two years after Callie’s life is devastated by a shocking incident she flees relentless scrutiny to find sanctuary in a rural cottage in the Central Highlands of Tasmania. Changing her name, and her look, Callie hopes to make a fresh start, and when she is unexpectedly offered a job at nearby tourist retreat, Calico Lodge, she decides it’s an opportunity too good to pass up. Made to feel welcome by the owners, particularly Connor Atherton, and slowly winning over her gruff landlord at Waldron House, Callie begins to believe she can escape her past…until a psychotic killer revives a long held grudge.

Blurring gothic sensibilities with psychological suspense, The Devil’s Lair by Sarah Barrie is a gripping thriller that kept me compulsively turning the pages until the early hours of the morning. I experienced an almost visceral reaction to the sense of unease that builds as the story unfolds, finding myself startling at every unexpected noise outside my darkened window.

Barrie establishes the disquieting presence of Waldron House with descriptions of ‘shabby green walls and scarred wooden floors’, dim rooms crowded with boxes and dusty antique furniture, and the overgrown, wild gardens. Strange symbols are carved or drawn on door frames, the cellar door sports a large padlock, and chunks of black tormaline are placed on window sills. Add to that the odd noises and other strange occurrences that begin to plague Callie, as well as the disturbing rumours that persist regarding the property’s history, and the grandeur of Waldron House begins to lose its charm.

Callie is a sympathetic character, the tragedy that caused her to flee the Hunter Valley is horrifying to contemplate, and then, just as she begins to find her feet in Tasmania, members of the community are targeted by unspeakable violence, and Callie experiences a cascade of unsettling events that causes her to question not only her safety, but her sanity.

Contrivances were easy to dismiss as I got caught up in the story, and as the truth about the past and present unravels, Barrie stuns with plot twists that reveal shameful secrets, dangerous obsessions, and horrifying acts of revenge.

A compelling and darkly atmospheric tale, Devil’s Lair is a riveting thriller. I enjoyed it so much I’ve ordered Blood Tree River, also by Sarah Barrie, which shares the novel’s location and some of the characters though it is not directly related.

Read an Excerpt

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Available from Harlequin/HarperCollins AU

Or purchase from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository