Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Cold cases, murder, lies, and an unimaginable truth.
Sydney detective August Shaw has spent the last decade of work solving cold cases. Since the death of his boyfriend eight years ago, August works alone, lives alone, is alone — and that’s exactly how he likes it. His work is his entire life, and he’s convinced a string of unsolved cold-case suicides are linked to what could be Australia’s worst ever serial killer. Problem is, no one believes him.
Senior Constable Jacob Porter loves his life in the small town of Tallowwood in the middle of the rainforests in northern New South Wales. He runs summer camps for the local Indigenous kids, plays rugby with his mates, has a close family, and he’s the local LGBTQIA+ Liaison and the Indigenous Liaison Officer.
When human remains are found in the camping grounds at Tallowwood Reserve, Jake’s new case turns out to be linked to August’s cold cases, and Jake agrees they’re not suicides at all. With Jacob now firmly in August’s corner, they face one hurdle after another, even when more remains are found, they still can’t seem to gain ground.
But when the body of a fellow police officer turns up under the same MO, it can’t be ignored anymore. August and Jake must trace the untraceable before the killer takes his next victim or before he stops one of them, permanently.
I am a huge fan of NR Walker’s, finding her through her contemporary romances like her Red Dirt Heart series (still my all time go to fav), Imago series, and Spencer Cohen (new fav) to name just a few. But here she comes with a murder mystery and I have to say, I was just as enthralled with the characters and plot as I was with her other tropes. I really shouldn’t be surprised.
Her gift of characterization doesn’t stop at story trope or have specific plot requirements they need to fit into. Walker writes people that have situations happen to them. Sometimes good, sometimes great, and sometimes, as in Tallowwood, horrifically, tragic things occur that forever change someone’s life.
Here it’s Detective August Shaw whose life has been derailed by tragedy. Maybe derailed momentarily and then shifted onto another track. That of solving cold cases and becoming a closed off person, dedicated to his job and the victims of the crimes he’s investigating. Initially, August Shaw is something of an enigma himself, but as the case he is working on enlarges, he meets young Constable Jacob Porter, and starts to emersh himself into the smalltown life of Tallowwood, the reader watches the man change and start to live again. Reluctantly, ever so slowly, August Shaw returns to life. And, oh my, it’s so wonderful. Because you are with him every emotional step of the way.
A huge part of that is the joyful, intelligent, highly engaging character of Jacob “Jake” Porter and his town or village of Tallowwood. How I wish it was real. I would be heading there myself to get a feel for the warmth and smalltown dynamics that Walker pulls you into and makes the reader a daily part of. It’s magnetic and you easily understand it’s pull on Shaw.
You also understand his attraction to Jake and their relationship, based as it is on chemistry, intelligence, and the feeling of equals. I love them!
The murder plot. What can I say? No spoilers here. But it has so many nice twists and turns and a hell of a suspense race to the finish that’s a white knuckle, stomach churner to leave everyone happy. Especially about the outcome. Such a evil air about it all, the reader’s skin will be prickling trying to guess who exactly is the killer here!
I would actually love to see a Tallowwood series with both August Shaw and Jake Porter investigating more murders or other crimes in the area. I would find that fascinating. Plus all the wonderful aboriginal culture insights and elements the author added were amazing. More please, much , much more.
Cover art is eye catching but that’s not my idea of either mc.
Sales Links: Amazon
Buy for $3.99 or try Kindle Unlimited to read over a million titles
Kindle Edition, 375 pages
Published September 23rd 2019 by Amazon Digital Services LLC
Original Title Tallowwood
Edition Language English