Sunday, January 1, 2023

Review: East of Alice

Title: East of Alice
Author: Annie Seaton

Publisher: 3rd November 2022 by Harlequin Australia, HQ & MIRA

Pages: 340 pages

Genre: romance, contemporary, mystery, suspense

My Rating: 5 cups


A gem-fossicking discovery echoes through time and leads to a dangerous journey through the red dust outback. A gripping mystery from Australian author Annie Seaton.

Gemma Hayden has returned to her hometown of Alice Springs for a new job as a primary school teacher. It's been six years since her family broke apart following the disappearance of her twin brother. And the scars still run deep.

Hard on the heels of her homecoming, Saul Pearce, the man she once loved, is reposted from Parks and Wildlife in Darwin back to Alice. When an old car wreck is uncovered, washed down the river to Ruby Gap, Saul investigates only to find that the wreck belonged to Ethan, Gemma's twin - and there's a coded note for her in the glovebox.

Joining forces, they trek through the rugged outback, piecing together clues that not only bring them to the attention of a criminal organisation, but lead them to uncover an even older puzzle ... One now lost to the history books.

With targets on their backs, will they unearth the truth in time?

My Thoughts

Having read Annie’s previous books I came in with high expectations as she is renowned for writing a great mystery. East of Alice makes it ‘three for three’ for me and I am now a fully fledged Annie Seaton fan. Having a dual timeline - turn of the century (1900s) and contemporary - the story unfolds from two main perspectives of the same family. I enjoyed this book so much as both stories are well told with a list of engaging aspects - mystery, action, adventure, danger, romance - all set in one of the most isolated locations in Australia. 

‘It’s not all for nothing,’ he murmured quietly as she clung to him, his khaki shirt bunched in her fists. ‘We’ve come this far, Gem. And we won’t give up until we search every bit of this ground. If that tin’s here, we’ll find it.’

Annie has once again completed faultless research in her endeavor to transport her readers. Ruby Gap and its history had me running off to Google and tied in with a sensational thriller/mystery made this a highly compelling read. There was so much to learn from not only the history of settlement in the area but also, as in Annie’s previous books, the contemporary storyline. The story itself is a good one! It is a slow build up but once it gets going the escalating tension will easily see you flying through the pages to a satisfying end. The two main characters, Gemma and Saul, are on their own journeys and I was really glad of the way Annie laid out their romantic relationship. Romance is not the sole focus here and the way the storylines plays out is most realistic. I also appreciated the minor step back in time with another mystery from last century which unfolded alongside the present day one. It added a nice touch with a fitting conclusion for closure. 

‘Gemma closed her eyes and tipped her head back. Total and absolute quiet. The encompassing silence of the outback cocooned her; she was home in the place she loved.’

East of Alice is certainly a book worth looking into on a number of levels. Annie takes the reader in directions they certainly would not be expecting. This is an another great read with its gripping tale, detailed descriptions of the Australian outback and relatable characters. If you haven’t read a book by Annie I highly recommend you do so - you won’t be disappointed. 

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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