Another exciting thriller that keeps the stakes high and the mystery deep.
Australian author B Michael Radburn is onto a good thing with this third crime thriller equalling the success of his first two Taylor Bridges murder mysteries, The Crossing and The Falls respectively.
Bridges is a park ranger, now with a national reputation for solving crimes in the harsh wilderness of Australia’s landscape. When a photojournalist uncovers three decomposing bodies, Bridges is called to fictional Devlins Reach along the Hawkesbury River of NSW to assist the local police. A serial killer is targeting the area and a large, oncoming storm threatens to wash away evidence and put the town at further risk.
With the stakes so high and the setting so isolated, it would be easy for this unlikely tale to fall into the realms of farce, but Radburn is a master storyteller who peels back the layers of the town with deliberate patience. The tension is high and the flawed characters, including Bridges himself, add to the unpredictability.
Like all good mysteries, there’s more than meets the eye. Dark secrets and tragic histories are surfaced during the investigation, alongside broken promises and false identities. The Reach drips with the blood of the past and the victims of the present.
Radburn resides in the Southern Highlands of NSW, so his intimate knowledge of the Australian bush makes the landscape an additional character. His writing always pops with vivid descriptions of both the beauty and cruelty of the terrain.
The Reach keeps one guessing almost until the end, with the big reveal coming to the reader shortly before the characters make the connection, adding additional tension to the satisfying climax. Unlike the first two stand-alone novels however, this one concludes in a way that could open it up for a sequel if Radburn choses to begin serialising the Taylor Bridges adventures more. The stand-alone format works to introduce new readers at any time, but the deeper fans get to know the central character, the more demand there is for an ongoing storyline. Whichever path Radburn choses in the future, his success to date with this series gives one faith in his decision.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Distributed by: Pantera Press
Released: February 2021
RRP: $8.54 eBook, $25.82 audiobook