#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · crime · mystery · new release

New Release Book Review: Crackenback by Lee Christine

Title: Crackenback

Author: Lee Christine

Published: February 2nd 2021

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 272

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Mystery

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 4 stars

A thrilling tale of snow-bound crime and suspense from the bestselling author of Charlotte Pass Detective Sergeant Pierce Ryder of the Sydney Homicide Squad is on the hunt for notorious fugitive Gavin Hutton.

After months of dead-ends, the breakthrough Ryder has been hoping for leads him back to the New South Wales Snowy Mountains on the trail of the suspected killer.

Meanwhile, when an injured man bursts into the remote Thredbo lodge managed by Eva Bell, her first instinct is to protect her daughter, Poppy. The terrifying arrival of Jack Walker turns Eva’s world upside down as the consequences of Jack’s presence become clear.

With a killer on the loose, Jack Walker and Ryder are tangled in the same treacherous web – spun across the perilously beautiful Crackenback Range.


A gripping police investigation and ice-cold drama unfolds in Crackenback, the latest contemporary suspense title from Australian author Lee Christine. A story of endurance, determination, belief, conviction, chance encounters, parenting and relationships, Crackenback is an excellent novel that offers the perfect book based escape.

Crackenback welcomes back some familiar faces from Lee Christine’s previous alpine themed novel, Charlotte Pass. Detective Sergeant Pierce Ryder leads to charge in a relentless hunt for a fugitive, who is determined to stay under the radar. Ryder’s latest lead on the suspect in question, Gavin Hutton, takes him away from the city and deep into the ravines of the Snowy Mountains. When an innocent ski lodge manger and her young daughter are inexplicably involved in this manhunt, the investigation steps up a notch. The appearance of Jack Walker, a man from ski manager Eva’s past, sends this protective mother in a spin. With her prime instinct to protect her little girl Poppy at all costs, Eva hopes that Detective Ryder and Jack can fend of this deranged psychopath.

Lee Christine has produced another contemporary suspense novel that sends plenty of thrills and spills in the hands of her reader. For those who are familiar with Christine’s previous release Charlotte Pass, there is some familiarity to this new novel, with a repeat of the same location and the reappearance of a couple of the characters from the previous book. However, I do need to make it very clear that there is no need to have read the first book to appreciate all Crackenback has to offer. Lee Christine’s new release easily stands on its own two feet and it can be read independent of the previous book.

One of the most gratifying aspects of Crackenback was the refreshing alpine based setting. As I live on the coast of Western Australia, the snowy mountains region of Thredbo is so far removed from my own backyard that I appreciated the rich presentation of this unique location. I would dearly love to travel to the setting base of Crackenback one day, but until things settle down in the travel department, I was happy to take a page-based experience to Thredbo. Christine has the ability to transport her audience to this stunning part of our country with ease and the descriptions of the snowy areas surrounding the story are incredibly immersive. The cool, icy and remote landscape works to heighten the mood of this already very tense novel. I really felt the pure sense of space and isolation surrounding Crackenback. It also allows the villain of the story to get away with his nasty deeds!

Christine’s characterisation is fantastic and each protagonist plays a critical role in the story. With new faces and returning figures intermingled within the storyline, there is plenty for the reader to contend with. An even balance of good and bad characters allows Christine to formulate a wholly engaging contemporary suspense narration. The action is set to a steady pace and there are moments of high tension spaced with lower-level sequences that zone in on character relations.  So just when I felt I couldn’t take the pressure of the fugitive investigation and the threats placed on Eva’s life any more, Christine would insert a much-needed relationship interlude sequence. A rest break from the relentless tension so to speak! Plenty of satisfaction derives from this clear and well formatted drama.

I am sure I am not the only one fascinated by the real-life case of Malcolm Naden, a notorious killer and a very dangerous Australian fugitive who managed to evade authorities for some time. I was reminded of this true crime case while reading Crackenback. The police procedural aspects of Crackenback felt as though they were directly inspired by this famous Australian crime case. With the emphasis being placed on the action derived from securing the whereabouts of fugitive Gavin Hutton, the reader feels a vast sense of relief when this exhilarating manhunt comes to a close.

Lee Christine has produced a novel of great merit. Crackenback builds on the success of Charlotte Pass and in its place we have another absolutely thrilling read. I am eagerly anticipating the next issue in this cracking series.

Crackenback by Lee Christine was published on 2nd February 2021 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Crackenback, Lee Christine, visit here.

*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Crackenback is book #31 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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