Blood Sisters

Written by Cate Quinn

Review written by Adrian Magson

Adrian Magson is the author of 27 crime and spy thrillers. 'Death at the Old Asylum', the 8th title in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series set in 1960s France, currently in ebook, comes out in paperback on the 14th March via Canelo Books. More information:

Blood Sisters
Orion Publishing
RRP: £16.99
Released: July 21 2022

Beth and Lauren are two American girls on a post-college trip to Australia, trying to escape a traumatic event in their college sorority initiation ceremony, when a girl died.

They arrive in the outback in search of jobs and anonymity, fetching up at the Gold Rush pub in Dead Tree Creek, a remote gold mining town where the miners have only two expectations – lots of beer and the favours of the female bartenders, of which the latest in a long line are… Beth and Lauren.

Another new arrival to Dead Tree Creek is Probationary Constable, Tara Harrison. She’s really a returnee, having spent time as an orphan in the area before moving away to join the police, and has been posted back to the fly speck force of Dead Tree Creek’s police station.

The three women turn out to have an unfortunate connection: the discovery of a dead body in town, showing signs of having been savagely tortured to death. For Tara Harrison it’s a dramatic start to her new job - and her first murder case.

The two Americans, now viewed as the only suspects, skip town, and the chase for them begins.

Jumping from one point of view to another covering the main cast of characters, the timeline of events and the various characters’ involvement gradually unfold, leaving many questions and few answers. Are the Americans – Beth the quiet one, Lauren the wild party girl - really the killers? Does their disappearance make them guilty? Why not one of the many heavy drinkers in town, some of whom did not get on with the dead man – a fellow miner and charismatic bully? Or could there be a simpler explanation: could this death be the culmination of the long-running dispute between the local Indigenous community and the mining company over the latter’s desecration of their historic land in the search for gold?

Even though her childhood locally having been a white girl among the Aboriginal children, Tara knows she can’t expect any help from them, by habit suspicious of all police. Nor can she seek help from the miners or even much from her colleagues until she has proved herself.

When she discovers another body (highlighted by spotting ants grouping where ants shouldn’t), which turns out to be an Aboriginal girl, the big city cops from Perth promptly move in and put their stamp of authority on the scene.

Tara’s given little hope of getting beyond the ‘expert’ view of their lead detective, Connolly, and his ingrained misogyny, who decides to wrap up the investigations and mark it solved. Convinced it is not, and that there is more to the murders than anyone is allowing, she presses on with the quiet approval of her immediate boss.

This is an unusual story layout, with several regular, brief and interspersing viewpoints; from Tara the cop, through the two Americans to the miners themselves. But it works extremely well. We don’t get to truly know the two Americans and their dark history until later in the book, but it’s clear there is massive baggage there. Not that they are the only ones with baggage, as is revealed in a savage twist at the end.

An enjoyable read, a genial and interesting lead in Tara Harrison and one or two supporting characters, with a well-researched community background setting by the author, a subject which for most Europeans, is complex, full of undercurrents and far from easily understood.

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