Charlotte Pass – Book Review
Author: Lee Christine
Genre: Murder mystery, Australia, romance
My rating: ★★★★☆
Release Date: Expected publication: 4th February, 2020 by Allen & Unwin AU
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
What did I think?
My third novel for this year is another good mystery (after A Murder at Malabar Hill). I was hooked early on by an interesting first chapter ending I didn’t foresee, but Charlotte Pass serves up a slice of romance, too.
Ryder is a cop sent up to work at Charlotte Pass with his partner Flowers. A body is found in the snow – could it be a woman who went missing in the 60s? A woman that Ryder’s retired partner, Lewicki, desperately wanted to find?
Vanessa is a ski patroller living and working in Charlotte Pass. There is an instant connection between her and Ryder but, as if they don’t have enough concerns (Ryder is only there in the short term, for example), things get even more complex when another body turns up. And it’s someone that Vanessa knows.
Ryder’s the serious cop with a (mostly secret) tragic past. When done badly it’s a trope I’m not fond of, but Christine made it work well and before long I’d accepted Ryder. Vanessa too was a great character, strong, independent, but had her soft side too. The romance was nicely done, entwined with the murder mystery—it needs to be mixed with other storylines for me. As you progress through the story, you find out Ryder’s backstory and Vanessa’s plans for the future.
Flowers is the vexing new younger partner of Ryder’s. I won’t tell you exactly how the Ryder-Flowers relationship turned out, but I will say that it turns out the millennial wasn’t too bad. Then, there’s Lewicki, Ryder’s ex-partner. He’s an officer in retirement who has never forgotten the case which Ryder now works on. Handy that. Both were good secondary characters.
Actually, when I think about it one thing I most liked about this book—aside from it being such a well-crafted murder mystery—was the cast of characters. The main ones all grew on me giving me plenty of people to like, but the lesser parts were well done, too. Not always likeable, though. They included the suspects, such as a famous race skier back in Charlotte Pass again, the couple who run the hotel, and some band members – one of whom was husband to the missing woman from 1964. Hmm.
I think Christine must have done a good job at developing the characters because I had very little confusion about who they all were even though there were about a dozen ‘known’ people woven throughout the story.
Charlotte Pass is not a hard-hitting novel, but it doesn’t have to be. There is room for stories that entertain, get you away from things and don’t keep you from sleeping like horror novels or, worse, non-fiction books on the environment. This book did that for me, was a well-written, and had the suspects are laid out to guess—always fun. Plus, I love me a snowy setting.
I read this uncorrected proof thanks to the publisher, Allen and Unwin, and the author. The book was given in return for an honest review.