dark-horse-brownHoney Brown’s latest novel DARK HORSE galloped (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) to the top of the most reviewed crime novel list for Challenge participants over the past month, with 5 of the 19 reviews in this category. It’s wonderful to see a new release attracting such attention, with the reviews sharing a positive vibe and a genuine appreciation of the novel’s twist. It’s certainly enough to make me put the novel on my own wishlist, hopefully you’ll be tempted too.

DARK HORSE is the story of Sarah Barnard who becomes trapped on a mountain after a flash flood. She takes shelter in a hut undergoing restoration but is soon joined by a mysterious bushwalker who may represent danger…but even if he does the two are both trapped in the inhospitable Victorian high country until the weather improves.

AWW Challenge creator Elizabeth Lhuede said of the book

 I would have read it in one sitting, if I hadn’t had to sleep. I curled up in front of a glowing slow combustion stove and, while the weather went crazy outside, was swept into the drama. Brown has a style that I love: it’s immediate, the descriptions are fresh, the action is urgent. I could almost feel the Victorian alpine hills crowding in, felt every bump and jerk of the heroine’s ride up the mountain on her endurance-trained horse, held my breath at the enormity of what she faced going up, when she reached the summit and going down again. It’s that kind of book: suspenseful, urgent, adrenaline-pumping.

Over at the Newton Review of Books Karen Chisolm said

This is a particularly powerful thriller. From the first, the reader is wrong-footed, although it’s hard to know that’s what is actually going on. Bad things continue to happen, and even when something positive does occur, you know that the lull in the tension is just there to make you feel better about the fact that more bad things are just over that next ridge.

While Shelleyrae at Book’d Out was taken by the characters

Sarah’s reason for being on the mountain is seemingly clear while Heath is the enigma. He appears untruthful, giving vague answers to even the simplest of questions and as Sarah’s suspicion of him grows, so does ours. The tension builds as Sarah battles her intense attraction to Heath, who is young, fit and handsome, even though she suspects him to be dangerous. Brown skillfully develops a relationship between Sarah and Heath that is, if not entirely understandable, feasible, despite the obvious contradictions.

Bree at 1girl2many books was captivated by Brown’s setting

The atmosphere in this novel is amazing. Despite it being Christmas Day, it’s raining, the fog is heavy, it’s windy and it’s miserable. Sarah and Heath are almost always soaked to the skin, shivering and trying to warm up using the meager supplies that they have. The weather lends an ominous vibe to this book, it’s definitely the sort of weather where you expect bad things to happen.

and Brenda summed up everyone’s sentiments

Aussie author Honey Brown is a relatively new author to me, but I will definitely be reading everything of hers I can lay my hands on!

a-trifle-deadSome highlights of the other crime novels we’ve been reading over the past month include

a great, thematic review of Livia Day’s A TRIFLE DEAD from Marg at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader. Marg matches each aspect of the book to an element of great trifle, making readers hungry for both the novel and some dessert, finishing with this observation “Of course, the final element in any trifle is the beautiful glass bowl that enables you to see the various layers once they are all assembled together, without distracting the eye. In this case, I think that the cover is very effective and eye catching.”

Dead Heat by Bronwyn ParryI learned that romantic suspense doesn’t have to be mushy and in the process thoroughly enjoyed Bronwyn Parry’s DEAD HEAT where “The authentic and quite enveloping setting provides an excellent backdrop for the cracking yarn which belied my ‘life’s slower in the country’ belief by not letting me stop for breath even once. There’s a rogue cop, international drug cartel links and a quite alarming number of dead bodies for something partially labelled romance but it all hangs together very nicely“.

in-her-blood-hauxwellKerrie Smith at Mysteries in Paradise included a review of Annie Hauxwell’s debut novel IN HER BLOOD which features a heroine addicted financial investigator as its protagonist. Kerrie enjoyed all the book’s unorthodox aspects “Set in contemporary London it took me into a world I hadn’t visited before and set up some connections I hadn’t thought about before: an agency that investigates financial irregularities and outsources information to London police; a fraud investigator with a drug addiction; a very nasty loan shark with connections to regular finance; a doctor who dispenses heroin under legitimate licence; an anti-drugs campaigner who provides addiction counselling.”

sweet-damage-jamesRochelle Sharpe thought Rebecca James’ SWEET DAMAGE was a rollercoaster of a story with “… plenty of tantalizing twist and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat, but it is the characters in this book that really hooked me and reeled me in. Once you meet the anxiety filled, timid, agoraphobic Anna, you will be reading in a desperate rush to find out what her story is, what was so terrible in her past that she turned into the mess she is“. Interestingly Rochelle thinks the book fits more into the NA (New Adult) category than the YA audience it’s being marketed to.

If you’re after some ideas of more crime/mystery/thriller or true crime books to read then head over to the genre’s reviews page for this year’s challenge to see what else is being discussed.

Previous roundups for this category

About Me
I’m Bernadette Bean. I’ve been reading avidly for as long as I can remember, blogging about reading since late 2008 at Reactions to Reading and co-hosting Fair Dinkum Crime, a site devoted to promoting and discussing Australian crime fiction, for the past couple of years. I read and reviewed 18 books as part of my own participation in the 2012 challenge. Some of them weren’t even crime novels!