(reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer APR 04, 2004)
"If her mother had been there, they would never have flown. She would have taken the death of the great bird as an omen, a sinister and fateful promise. The cassowary is, after all, flightless."
When Georgia Parrish hit the large bird with her car, she felt guilt, but nothing else...she was, after all, in a huge hurry to get to the local aerodrome, where an friend might have a seat on his plane if no one else showed up. It might seem like a pretty iffy proposition, to race through a rainstorm on the off chance that the four-seat airplane might have space for her, but she's willing to risk it to get out of remote nothern Australian town of Nulgarra, where she grew up, where she has come for her grandfather's funeral. She knows if she has to stay with Mrs. Scutchings one more night, she'd go mad. Hanging out at the local pub and watching geckos climb the walls, will have the same result.
Looking back, she might have wished that she had spent the extra day. She manages to cross a rain-swollen creek, but ends up giving a lift to people in a car who were not so lucky. Ironically, these people happen to be heading for the same plane, and her only hope is that the final passenger decides not to come...he doesn't, and so she joins Lee, a grouchy if rather good looking man, and the lovely, sweet, Suzie. When the plane crashes, Suzie is injured very badly, and begs Georgia to take her fanny pack to her brother. At first glance, there's nothing in it but the usual stuff women carry.
Lee disappears at the hospital, Bri is in serious condition from the burns he sustained, and Suzie is dead...leaving Georgia as the only one who can give the police answers. They're especially interested in Lee, whom her former-high-school-crush-turned-cop is very interested in apprehending. The police are not the only ones who demand things from her...soon a gang captures her, wanting to know where Suzie's brother is...information that Georgia has no idea how to get, and no choice but to.
In this well done, exciting story, there are many things going on. The police want to stop illegal immigrants from being smuggled into the country, as well as revenge for the death of one of their own. This might be the reason why Daniel, Georgia's old crush, is so interested in her, and Georgia can't decide whether she still has feelings for him or not. This worry takes a back seat when the gang holds her mother hostage, and she's forced to go into the rainforest, a dangerous, if beautiful place, to see if she can find the secret behind the disk that Suzie had hidden in her fanny pack. There's a little romance... she also feels attracted to Lee, who saved her life and therefore she feels compelled not to tell on when he shows up again, and there's what she feels for Daniel. There's a lot of action as Georgia finds herself in one close call after another. Even she feels compelled to say to the reader that it must seem like she has nine lives... try nine thousand. I didn't find myself rolling my eyes at this; instead, I just enjoyed the ride.
As in Blood Junction , the wonderful Australian landscape plays a huge part in the book. It adds a fantastic atmosphere, written so vividly that I felt the hot and sultry air even though it's still winter. India Kane (Blood Junction) makes a welcome appearance... the tenacious journalist of the last book is still quite likable.Filled with good twists and surprises, Dead Heat seduces the reader with its beautiful setting, and keeps them trapped with a fast paced adventure.
- Amazon readers rating: from 5 review
Read a chapter excerpt from Dead Heat at MostlyFiction.com(back to top)
(reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer OCT 13, 2002)
"This woman," Stan said with satisfaction, "is under arrest for Tiger's murder."
The crowd, which had swelled and now contained a number of women, gave a muted cheer.
India drew herself up to her full height and stared at them slowly, one by one. Many of them looked away, but some returned her look with hostility, others curiosity. When she spoke, her voice was clear and firm. "I haven't murdered anyone. I'm innocent."
India Kane has returned to her homeland of Australia to go on an outback vacation with her best friend Lauren. Her car breaks down outside of Cooinda, where she is supposed to meet her friend. She's eventually picked up by a young man named Tiger, who drives her into Cooinda, better known by the locals as Blood Junction. Her friend isn't there, and the man she befriends upon coming to Blood Junction leaves for a wilderness trek. Bored, and a little worried for Lauren, she decides to explore the town, only to be nearly lynched by a mob that is convinced that she has committed a horrible crime. Tiger, a local policeman, has been found murdered, and India is the last person seen with him. The police chief tries to force a confession, but despite the cruel things he does to her, she refuses to relent. A second body, that of her friend Lauren, is found near where Tiger's was, and the authorities feel that they have an even better case against her. When she manages to get out of jail with the help of Detective Whitelaw, she realizes that the only way out for her is to investigate matters herself.
From the first page, when you read the sad account of how Blood Junction got its name, you begin to get a real feel for the setting. The names, the slang, the incredible width of the Outback sky all carry you to Australia. It also gives you insight into the hardness of the people of Cooinda ...a necessary hardness, because the life they lead is not gentle. This doesn't mean that the sun has baked the compassion out of the hearts of the townspeople; it means that they have very little patience for outsiders, and are not willing to put up with someone harming one of their own. In many ways, this setting is the main character of the story. Perhaps it's only because I've long loved Australia, although I've never been there, but the texture she added with the dialects, the fact that I could feel the dust in my throat during some passages really worked for me.
India also is an impressive character in her own right. The way that she talks to Lauren in her head is charming, and their conversations are very revealing. It's a clever way of approaching the problem of telling the reader about the character's past. Since India's past becomes more and more important to the story, Carver doesn't rely solely on this device, but still I thought it effective. India is a strong character, refusing to give up even when faced with a huge conspiracy that threatens to harm the Aboriginal population. Her attitude is admirable, and her ways of tracking down the clues are often ingenious.
I like the way the setting and the characters work together to create this involving mystery.
- Amazon readers rating: from 4 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from Blood Junction at MostlyFiction.com
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Blood Junction (2001; October 2002 in US)
- Dead Heat (2003; March 2004 in US)
- Black Tide (2004: October 2005 in US)
- Beneath the Snow (2005; April 2007 in US)
- Gone Without Trace (July 2007)
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- The official website for Caroline Carver
- Wikipedia page on Caroline Carver
- Bestsellersworld review of Blood Junction
- BooksnByte review of Blood Junction
- Caroline Carver on Dead Heat
- BookLoons review of Dead Heat
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About the Author:
Caroline Carver participated in the 1992 London-to-Saigon Motoring Challenge as part of the only all-female team on a 63-day, 12,500-mile journey. In 1993, she took on the London-to-Cape Town 4 x 4 Adventure Drive. Her mother holds the female land-speed record-holder in Australia and her father was a jet fighter pilot.