Book Bingo 2019 is a collaboration challenge I am completing with my favourite bloggers, Theresa Smith Writes and The Book Muse. Each Saturday, on a fortnightly basis, beginning on Saturday 5th January 2019, Ashleigh, Theresa and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The Book Bingo 2019 card contains a total of 30 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year, with the aim to complete the whole card by the end of December. Two of the Book Bingo entries this year will be flexible, so that means it is completely down us as to when we post these entries, to ensure all 30 are ticked off by the end of the year. Do keep an eye out on our respective blog sites for our bonus round entries! To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us, there is no crossover – that is planned anyway! However, as Ashleigh, Theresa and I enjoy similar books, especially books by Australian women writers, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we end up with more than one book double up, as was the case in 2018! We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post, tagging us on social media, or by visiting The Book Muse and Theresa Smith Writes.
The new outback mystery from Australia’s authentic and beloved voice of the bush.
When aspiring actress Charlie Carver learns that her cousin Annabelle has died, she immediately leaves Melbourne to fly home to the remote family roadhouse east of Alice Springs. It has been years since her last visit and her relationship with her mother, Molly, is strained but Charlie is determined to patch up their differences.
The reunion, however, is interrupted when Molly suffers a heart attack. With her mother airlifted out for life-saving surgery, Charlie is left to take the reins of the struggling family business, alongside friends old and new, including the captivating local stockman Mike.
The authorities declare Annabelle to have taken her own life, but when a woman’s body turns up at an abandoned mine site, Charlie begins to wonder what else is being covered up, and why.
Beginning a search for the truth, a perilous bush chase unfolds that threatens her own life, causing Charlie to wonder whether she ever knew Annabelle at all…
From the bestselling author of The Heartwood Hotel comes the suspenseful new outback mystery from Australia’s authentic rural writer and beloved voice of the bush.
Kerry McGinnis is the bestselling author of a number of Australian romantic suspense novels and she returns with her latest release, The Roadhouse. A story of family, secrets, relationships, The Roadhouse is an engrossing outback story that ties in an unsolved crime to this contemporary drama. It is a book that kept me up way past my bedtime, as I was determined to get to the bottom of the puzzling crime that defines the direction of The Roadhouse.
The lead of this tale, Charlie, is an actress, carving out various low level roles for herself in the big smoke. When Charlie receives the shocking news that her cousin Annabelle has passed way in suspicious circumstances, she trades life in Melbourne for her family home, east of Alice Springs. Charlie has avoided returning home for years, so this homecoming is hard on a number of fronts. In particular, the tenuous relationship between Charlie and her mother Molly plays on her mind. A trip back home may be what mother and daughter need at this emotional time. No sooner has Charlie arrived at the roadhouse when her mother has a heart attack. With no appropriate medical facilities nearby, Molly is transported by air to the nearest hospital. Charlie is left with the responsibility of running the roadhouse. With a support network rallying around her including Mike, a possible love interest, Charlie takes it all in her stride. However, Charlie’s cousin Annabelle’s mysterious death is still playing on her mind. When the police surmise that Annabelle most likely took her own life, Charlie is dubious. Then a dead body surfaces and there are more questions than answers to the events surrounding Annabelle’s death.
Kerry McGinnis is an author I have turned to in the past when I am need of a good quality Australian outback mystery novel. McGinnis doesn’t disappoint with this latest offering. The Roadhouse is a strong outback based family drama, with elements of crime and romance rounding this novel off nicely. It proved to be the perfect choice for one of the final categories I need to cover for Book Bingo 2019, ‘a book set in the Australian Outback.’
Setting and atmosphere is a strong point in The Roadhouse. The physical presence of the outback and landscape is so potent that it is almost impossible not to consider the land as a solitary character. Kerry McGinnis is an accomplished author of ten books, all of which are rural Australian based stories. McGinnis employs her expertise to her most recent novel to help situate the reader in her compelling Australian outback setting. As soon as Charlie arrives back home, we are consumed by the overwhelming atmosphere of this particular outback location. Set just outside of Alice Springs, almost on the road to nowhere, we feel the intense heat, the sheer expanse of the land, the sense of isolation, but at the same time, the community spirit evident in this area is a joy to read.
I really enjoyed getting to know Charlie Carver, the lead of this tale. Not only did Charlie come across as genuine and friendly, I appreciated that she had her misgivings. Charlie isn’t perfect and she does come with some baggage, namely her family background. This provides McGinnis with ample room to delve into the complicated mother-daughter and family relationship issues between the main players of this novel. As the book progressed, long held secrets and shocking revelations come to the surface. The truth is catalyst for change, as we view the characters, especially Molly, with a different set of eyes. Personally, it gave me a greater sense of understanding and I definitely had a lot more sympathy for the characters of the novel following these disclosures.
The supporting cast are well placed in The Roadhouse. I liked fellow roadhouse workers Ute and Bob. Both were quirky but endearing and I liked the way in which they interacted with Charlie. McGinnis sets this off with plenty of authentic dialogue, that I found quite humorous in places. In addition, there is a side serving of romance that adds just a dash of love and hope, which is in contrast to the unfurling drama.
The crime and mystery aspect of The Roadhouse is what urged me to continue reading late into the night when I selected this book to read. Coupled with the fascinating and realistic experiences of running an isolated outback roadhouse, I was quite taken with the murder mystery surrounding Annabelle. McGinnis issues her readers with a number of possible final outcomes in relation to Annabelle’s death, which I enjoyed weighing up. The end result was not hugely shocking, but it made me feel that the investment I placed in this story was definitely worthwhile.
Based on my reading and enjoyment of The Roadhouse, I can see why Kerry McGinnis has been awarded the title of ‘beloved voice of the bush’. The Roadhouse is classic Australian outback mystery fare, balanced with a touch of romance and a generous serving of family drama. An engaging read from page one to page 329, The Roadhouse comes with a seal of approval from this reader.
**** 4 stars
The Roadhouse by Kerry McGinnis was published on 2nd July 2019 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Roadhouse is book #143 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge