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REVIEW: As Darkness Falls by Bronwyn Parry

Update: I said I bought these from WH Smith, but in checking my receipt (at the request of Maude whose email I tried to answer but it did not work – bouncing) it was actually from Waterstones. Sorry!

As Darkness Falls by Bronwyn ParryDear Ms. Parry:

Thank you for sending me your books for review. I had remembered seeing your name around the blogosphere, but given that your books were published in Australia and I would actually have to make an effort to order them, I pushed the books out of my mind. I am a pretty lazy shopper (which is why the one click buy is so important to me). But then you decided to send the books directly to me.

I confess I hadn’t realized that they were even romantic suspense when you profferred them. I really do enjoy a good romantic suspense but it’s rare for a reader to find a good blend of the suspense and the romance. (I think I say this in every RS review, but it is true).

After I had finished reading this book and your other, Dark Country, I asked why these books weren’t published in the US. Someone said its because they are set in Australia, but I never felt like I was reading about something unfamiliar. Indeed, the location could very well have been in the Western United States given the descriptions of the land and the people, well, it just shows how universal human nature really is.

Detective Sergeant Isabelle O'Connell specialized in finding lost children, lost people, and when one of the children of her hometown, Dungirri, was kidnapped, Isabelle gladly joined the law enforcement team assembled to find her. The town and the team focused on one strange man living on the outskirts of town. Isabelle wasn’t convinced he was the culprit. When the body of the child turned up, the town’s anger crescendoed and a mob formed to bring the man to justice. Isabelle attempted to protect the man and in the town’s frenzy, the hurt Isabelle and killed this man.

Isabelle’s loss was multiple: she failed to save the child’s life, an innocent man was stoned to death, and the people she grew up with almost did her in, at the very least killing her belief in herself and others. Isabelle retreated to her home.

This story is about not only the redemption of Isabelle but that of the town as well.

She thrust her hands in her pockets, shoulders hunched. "This town was already in a bad way, well before Jess was abducted last year. It's lost half its population in the past ten years, and with the timber mill closed and most of the graziers shedding staff there's chronic unemployment. What happened last year – Jess's abduction and murder, Chalmers' death – can you imagine what that does to a community like this? The place is so traumatised it's barely functioning.'

Yes, he'd seen that today. Seen it in the people who couldn't look each other in the eye. Wives looking sideways at husbands, friends doubting friends, and no one daring to speak of the unspeakable.

I think a well crafted suspense story makes you think, not of what happens next but why. It shows you that good and evil is a much grayer area. For Isabelle, that the people that she grew up with, the people that she thought she knew, could so easily turn into monsters, was a truth she couldn’t really comprehend.

When another child is taken a year later from Dungurri, this time from a close friend, Isabelle is asked by Detective Chief Inspector Alec Goddard, from State Crime Command in Sydney to assist in finding the child. DCI Goddard is uncertain about Isabelle, thinking that a cracked detective isn’t much good to anyone but she came highly recommended by a superior of his.

Isabelle and Alec make a good team. Alec is secure enough in his own self that he doesn’t mind when Isabelle takes the lead in questioning people nor is he adverse to accepting direction. Isabelle uses her knowledge of the Dungurri people to help rule out and in suspects and each time she questions them, the knowledge of what they had tried to do to her, rumbled in the background.

We were able to see the two of them use deductive reasoning skills in weighing suspects. For instance, at one point, they debate whether the kidnapper could be a woman.

She understood his meaning. "If a woman abducts a child, there's usually an element of caring, of nurturing, involved. New clothes, toys or other gifts. Attempts to establish a relationship. But with Jess and Kasey there was . . . nothing.'

(I don’t know if this is accurate but it sounds good). The romance between Alec and Isabelle takes place over a short time and under intense stressful circumstances. Yet, it is highly believable. Alec comes to admire Isabelle a great deal and Isabelle sees someone in Alec who is not only loyal, but also strong. Further, like Isabelle, Alec had seen the worst in people. They had a shared sense of purpose.

The times in which Alec and Isabelle were intimate in the story seemed a natural progression of both their feelings and the overarching plot. It wasn’t at an odd time, in the middle of the jungle or when they should have been searching for the child. It was during times when they had done all they could during the day, interviewed, searched, investigated.

I think the villain is hinted at pretty early in the book and the suspense was more about whether Alec and Isabelle could unravel the mystery before the villain decided to kill another child. I enjoyed the police procedure aspect, thought the romance believable and well integrated; but I particularly liked the emphasis on how people are shaped by their communities, for both good and ill. B+

Best regards,

Jane

| Book link | Book Depository (currently out of stock) | Amazon Secondary Market

This is a book that was published originally in Australia and has been released in the UK. I was able to buy it from WH Smith in epub format Waterstone’s in epub format with a US credit card. Remember that there is an exchange rate difference between the listed price in pounds.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

14 Comments

  1. Jill Sorenson
    Apr 15, 2010 @ 15:14:12

    Sounds fantastic. Another book for my to-buy list.

  2. Wendy
    Apr 15, 2010 @ 15:32:55

    ::Sigh:: Wasn’t this fantastic? There’s nothing quite like a well-written, well-drawn romantic suspense novel to get my blood moving.

    This particular book won Parry RWA’s Golden Heart for Best Romantic Suspense Manuscript, and I’m *hoping* now that Dark Country has been nominated for a RITA that some US publisher will catch a dang clue already. The fact that she’s not being published in the US is a crime. Period.

    Heh. Crime. Romantic suspense. Get it?

  3. Amy
    Apr 15, 2010 @ 21:58:18

    I don’t usually follow discussions publishing and geographic limitation issues. We see other Australian authors’ books (set in Australia) via Harlequin all the time, so I don’t understand the rationale behind not publishing a book in the US because the book is not set in the US. Could that truly be the reason?

  4. RachelT
    Apr 16, 2010 @ 06:36:21

    Just to say that while Dark Country is the same price at both WHSmith and Waterstones, As Darkness Falls is cheaper at WHS

  5. NH
    Apr 16, 2010 @ 07:40:59

    I adore Bronwyn Parry’s books!!

    There’s another great new Australian romantic suspense author – Helene Young.

    It’s so great to have romantic suspense set in Australia – it’s a rarity!

  6. Randi
    Apr 16, 2010 @ 13:39:51

    Amy, that’s a good question. Keri Arthur is from Australia and her books take place in Australia. Yet, she’s very popular in the US. To me, that excuse that US readers won’t want to read stories that take place in Australia is bunk. There must be something else going on.

  7. Jane
    Apr 16, 2010 @ 14:12:39

    @NH Thanks for the recommendation. I’m off to see if she is available digitally.

  8. Shannon Stacey
    Apr 16, 2010 @ 14:26:24

    If I remember correctly, with the exchange rate, I paid $9-something for this book at Waterstones but, since I always mentally add one letter grade to Jane’s, I anticipate it being worth it.

    I need to bump it up to “next” in the digital TBR pile.

  9. Ros
    Apr 16, 2010 @ 14:28:46

    @Amy: The reason you don’t have to follow those discussions is because you live in the US. For everyone else in the world, not being able to buy ebooks because of geographic limitations is a constant source of frustration and there is no evidence of any rationale behind which books are available where. I can often buy half of an author’s backlist but not the rest. Or some books from a particular publisher but not all of them.

  10. MicheleKS
    Apr 17, 2010 @ 17:47:54

    I buy Ms. Parry’s books through The Book Depository website (www.bookdepository.com) although they are British editions. I think these books would be a smash hit in the US.

  11. Amy
    Apr 17, 2010 @ 21:38:34

    I went to Waterstones for the first time to buy this book in ebook format. Unfortunately, after computing the currency exchange, I think I am going to hold off on trying this author for now. I’m just not ready to pay $9.76 to try a new author. I’ll have to check the bookdepository.com again when the book is in stock to see if the paperback + shipping cost any less.

  12. SarahT
    Apr 18, 2010 @ 03:09:47

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I bought my copies of ‘As Darkness Falls’ and its sequel ‘Dark Country’ from The Book Depository.

    I sincerely hope a US publisher picks up Bronwyn Parry’s books as they deserve to reach a wider audience.

  13. Elizabeth Rolls
    May 17, 2010 @ 06:01:04

    The problem for American readers is not the Australian setting. The problem is with the publishers. Bronwyn Parry’s books are published by an Australian publisher, which means they do not get American distribution. To get North American distribution she will have to sell those rights to a US publisher. Hopefully now she has been nominated for the RITA, Bronwyn’s books will find a US publisher.
    Keri Arthur otoh does have an American publisher, so her books are published in the US.
    Hope that explains the why’s and wherefore’s.

  14. Geographical Restrictions, Take Two | Dear Author
    Nov 07, 2010 @ 10:01:35

    […] US credit card, if you were wondering).  Amazon UK says that they aren’t available to me.  As much as I enjoyed Ms. Parry’s books, I don’t have the energy or initiative to start a letter writing […]

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