Title: The Bluffs
Author: Kyle Perry
Published: July 2nd 2020
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
I won’t walk alone by the mountain trees, or the hungry man will come for me . . .
‘Tense, atmospheric and unsettling, this book will stay with you long after you turn the last page, and long after you turn out the lights.’ – Christian White
At the bottom of the world, there is an island. It is a land of rugged wilderness, of ice and snow and blistering heat, of the oldest trees on earth . . . They say tigers still roam there. They say other things roam, too.
When a school group of teenage girls goes missing in the remote wilderness of Tasmania’s Great Western Tiers, the people of Limestone Creek are immediately on alert. Three decades ago, five young girls disappeared in the area of those dangerous bluffs, and the legend of ‘the Hungry Man’ still haunts locals to this day.
Now, authorities can determine that the teacher, Eliza Ellis, was knocked unconscious, so someone on the mountain was up to foul play. Jordan Murphy, the local dealer and father of missing student Jasmine, instantly becomes the prime suspect. But Detective Con Badenhorst knows that in a town this size – with corrupt cops, small-town politics, and a teenage YouTube sensation – everyone is hiding something, and bluffing is second nature.
When a body is found, mauled, at the bottom of a cliff, suspicion turns to a wild animal – but that can’t explain why she was discovered barefoot, her shoes at the top of the cliff, laces neatly tied.
The wind; the bluffs; the laugh of the kookaburra.
Gunfire in the distance.’
With a wet and icy feel cover, The Bluffs is the perfect cold weather chiller. Set in the highly atmospheric Great Western Tiers region in Tasmania, Kyle Perry’s debut sends shivers down your spine and plenty of thrills.
The Bluffs is the story of a group of teenage girls who vanish in the area of Limestone Creek, a remote location in the Tasmanian wilderness. This is a renowned spot, a site for long standing folklore and a killer’s stomping ground. The area is ripe for danger and peril, which has previously seen the loss of a group of girls, decades before. When a local teacher is found unconscious in the mountains, suspicion is immediately cast. With a suspect soon to blame, in the form of a local drug dealer, relations reach boiling point in Limestone Creek. It is up to Detective Badenhorst to negotiate the maze of corruption, community perception, social media issues and teenage politics in bringing about order to the town and to settle the malevolence that has haunted the region for decades. Unexplained deaths, local legends, secrets, suspicions and unexplained events all culminate in this enthralling tale from debut novelist Kyle Perry.
I make no secret of my fascination for Tasmania, therefore I was immediately drawn to The Bluffs, a Tasmanian set novel penned by a new writer from the state. The Bluffs is Kyle Perry’s debut novel, but years of experience trekking the Tasmanian wilderness has put Perry in an excellent position to compose his first novel and it is an absolute cracker!
There is a strong sense of action and urgency that pervades The Bluffs from the get-go. If this book was a character, I would best describe it as highly strung. There is tension around every corner in The Bluffs. The sense of imminent danger that follows this book never releases. It takes a skilled writer to maintain such a consistent level of biting atmosphere for the entire length of the novel, so I am very impressed by this debut author’s skill in this area.
Perry has the capacity as a writer to easily transport his audience deep into the Tasmanian Wilderness. I could feel the remoteness of the locale, along with the strong sense of isolation. The pristine air seemed to emanate from the pages of The Bluffs, it was cold, crisp and alpine scented. The flora and fauna of the region is relayed with clarity. I really appreciated Perry’s vivid descriptions of the setting, which further increased my connection to this novel.
In terms of the mystery at hand, The Bluffs will keep the reader actively engaged. With an age old mystery haunting this novel, along with a compelling local legend, this sacred folklore had me shaking in my boots a few times. I almost fell under the spell of the ‘Hungry Man’. Tales of murder, suicide, disappearance, drug deals, blackmail, inappropriate relationships, revenge, deception and small town politics pervade every corner of this novel. Adding in teenage dynamics and social media influencers adds further speculative layers to this set piece.
I found the investigations directed by Detective Badenhorst to be authentic, eye opening and detailed. The police groundwork, the forensics and the profiles that are built in this novel piqued my interest level. There were some complex, formidable, but doubtful forces in this novel and it was hard to trust anyone in the book. The structure applied by Kyle Perry in alternating three main character viewpoints shifts the psychology of this novel from pillar to post, luring the reader in to this deceptive tale. What an unsettling but engrossing story!
In The Bluffs Kyle Perry exposes the dark recesses of a remote Tasmanian wilderness region, an area ripe for the picking in terms of intrigue, murder, evil, deception and more. The Bluffs is a solid debut novel and I am definitely keen to explore further writing from this fresh voice in Australian fiction.
The Bluffs by Kyle Perry was published on July 2nd 2020 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Bluffs, Kyle Perry, visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.