Brisbane 1999. It's hot. Stormy. Dangerous. The waters of the Brisbane River are rising.
The rains won't stop. People's nerves are on edge. And then...
A body is found.
And then another.
A string of seemingly ritualized but gruesome murders. All the victims are men. Affluent. Guys with nice houses, wives and kids at private schools. All have had their throats cut.
Tabloid headlines shout, THE VAMPIRE KILLER STRIKES AGAIN!
Detective Sergeant Lara Ocean knows the look. The 'my-life-will-never-be-the-same-again look'. She's seen it too many times on too many faces. Telling a wife her husband won't be coming home. Ever again. Telling her the brutal way he was murdered. That's a look you never get used to.
Telling a mother you need her daughter to come to the station for questioning. That's another look she doesn't want to see again.
And looking into the eyes of a killer, yet doubting you've got it right. That's the worst look of all - the one you see in the mirror. Get it right, you're a hero and the city is a safer place. Get it wrong and you destroy a life. And a killer remains free. Twenty years down the track, Lara Ocean will know the truth.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
It’s Brisbane in 1999: the city is in disarray following the grisly, disturbing murders of a number of affluent men. Tony Cavanaugh’s Blood River is a tense, shocking crime novel that offers the rotating perspectives of two police detectives, the accused teenager and the real killer, in sharp bursts. Cavanaugh’s ability to create a sense of place is remarkable, too: the city’s never-ending rain and sweltering heat almost becomes its own character in the novel, and adds to the story’s sinister, gritty atmosphere.
In 1999 Brisbane, Australia, Det. Constable Lara Ocean and Det. Insp. Billy Waterson, the leads of this uninspired serial-killer thriller from Cavanaugh (the Darian Richards series), seek the Slayer, who nearly severs the heads of his (or her) victims, all of them male. The opening section's title, "Wrong Girl," telegraphs that 17-year-old Jen White, a private school girl the two homicide cops bring in for questioning, is innocent. Flash back three weeks to the discovery of the Slayer's first victim. More murders follow in quick succession. Lara wonders whether a symbol connected to Taranis, the Celtic god of thunder, tattooed on one corpse points to an ex-boyfriend of hers. Early on, Cavanaugh indicates that the mystery of the Slayer's identity won't be resolved until 2019, lessening interest in those sections set in 1999. That Lara and Billy remain psychologically undeveloped throughout further undermines reader engagement. Fans of this subgenre will be better off elsewhere.