Title: Sunset Shadows
Author: Bronwyn Parry
Published: August 9th 2016
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Australian
Rating: 4 stars
‘Dammit, Tess, he doesn’t seem worth protecting.’
‘I’m not protecting him, sarge,’ she said. She dropped her gaze, biting her lip, and for the first time in his experience she spoke in a small voice. ‘I’m protecting me.’
For police officers Steve Fraser and Tess Ballard, a split-second decision saves the lives of fifty members of a cult - but also puts their careers on the line. Tess’s work is everything to her; she’s forged a new life through sheer determination, so when her past returns to haunt her, Steve must race through wild country if he is to save the people he most cares about.
In SUNSET SHADOWS, the thrilling new novel by multi-award-winning author Bronwyn Parry, you will feel immersed in the dramatic beauty, isolation, wind and the sun of the deep Australian bush – and its sinister shadows . . .
Sunset Shadows, the sixth novel written by Bronwyn Parry and the third book in the Goodbari series. It looks at the sinister undercurrents of the Australian bush – melding together a story of crime, family and romance.
For those new to the work of Bronwyn Parry, Sunset Shadows picks up where Parry’s previous novel, Storm Clouds left off. Set in Northern NSW, it is the story of police officer Steve, who many years ago lost his mother and then his sister in a suspected suicide. While investigating a shady cult operation, Steve’s sister Maddie is found living in this isolated community. However, the cult’s charismatic and dangerous leader Joshua has plans in store for Maddie and his followers – a mass suicide. Steve and his offsider, an officer named Tess Ballard, work together to save the cult community from falling into leader Joshua’s deadly plan. Confronting Joshua at a waterfall leads to a deadly standoff that sees the leader meet foul play. The absence of a body of the cult leader leaves Steve, Tess and many others on tenterhooks, knowing Joshua will come back to finish what he set out to do. As Steve works hard to ensure his sister and her young family’s safety, officer Tess must confront painful memories from the past to save the innocent.
It seems a fair amount of time had passed since I read Storm Clouds by Bronwyn Parry. I had to jig my memory at the opening of Sunset Shadows to recall the plot details and main players from the previous book. Once I had this information at hand, I soon settled into the story of Sunset Shadows.
In terms of plot, Parry has crafted a suspenseful tale, with plenty of twists, moments of danger and terror present in Sunset Shadows. Joshua, the cult leader, was a terrifying character, sending shivers down my spine. Likewise, I also found his son equally creepy. The use of an isolated cult community in the remote location of Northern NSW, was a compelling choice by Parry, I found it fascinating. It also allowed plenty of narrative depth for Parry to explore.
Compared to other novels I have read by Parry, the romance side of Sunset Shadows is much more understated. The two main protagonists share a slow burn style of romance. The book chooses to focus more on the background and personal tragedy both the main characters have faced and overcome. Steve and Tess are resilient characters and I was impressed by their actions in the novel. Steve was a perfectly cast hero and an admirable character, who has to make pretty big life transition as the novel progresses.
The remote backdrop to the story really sets this novel on fire. I could feel the dust, dirt, heat and pure isolation of the location in which Sunset Shadows is set. The setting also gives Parry a chance to explore police procedures and limitations in these isolated regions of Australia. This part of the story definitely carried me away.
Sunset Shadows is another ripper read from Australia’s queen of suspense, Bronwyn Parry. It would make an ideal holiday or weekend read, as it is a novel you can completely surrender yourself in.
*I wish to thank Books With Heart for a copy of this book which I received via an online competition.