Wednesday 27 March 2013

Book Review: As Darkness Falls by Bronwyn Parry

'An abducted child. A ruthless killer. A race against time.

Haunted by her failures, police detective Isabelle O'Connell is recalled to duty by detective Alec Goddard to investigate the abduction of yet another child from her old home town. With the killer playing a game of cat and mouse they have only days in which to find the girl alive, but they have very few clues, a whole town of suspects and a vast wilderness to search.

For Isabelle, this case is already personal; for Alec his best intentions to keep it purely professional soon dissolve. He starts to think of the missing child as if she were his own, and his anguish over Bella's safety moves beyond just his concern for a colleague. Their mutual attraction leaves them both vulnerable to their private nightmares - nightmares that the killer ruthlessly exploits.' 

I read Australian author Bronwyn Parry's debut novel As Darkness Falls because it conveniently fit into two of my 2013 reading challenges - the Australian Women Writers Challenge and Book'd Out's Eclectic Reader Challenge which called for a 'romantic suspense' novel. I had heard about Parry's books through last year's AWW Challenge and was intrigued to see how a romance and a crime story would fit together in one novel.

Parry did well to write for two specific, and very different, genres and to combine them into one fast-paced story. She gave both elements of the story equal time on the page so I never felt the plot leant more one way or the other. Parry successfully grabbed my attention from the beginning because I was interested to see how a love story could possibly develop amidst a criminal investigation. 

The love story between Isabelle and Alec was definitely nice to read, but I did feel it moved way too quickly. They seemed to go from attraction to full-blown love within the space of a couple of days. I realise Parry needed the romance to fit into the time frame of the kidnapping investigation (which needed to be dealt with swiftly for the child's sake), but the speed in which their love grew was unrealistic for me. Not having read other romantic suspense novels, I can only assume that this is typical of the genre simply because there are two very important elements that need to fit into the book. In my opinion both elements suffer because of this.

The crime aspect of the novel was dealt with just as quickly and I admit I was quite surprised when the kidnapper was revealed. I don't think Parry left any clues along the way and when the time came for the detectives to work it out, it all happened a bit too easily. I wasn't entirely convinced that they could work it out the way they did.

Having said all this, the story was engaging and I did enjoy reading it. Where Parry excelled were her descriptions of the rural Australian setting. The small fictional town of Dungirri is richly depicted and I was really able to get a sense of the place. I grew up in a small country town in NSW so I could easily relate to the small town mentality!

All in all, an interesting first encounter with the romantic suspense genre. It was a good story, but I don't think I'll be returning to this genre any time soon. I prefer to read a well-developed, realistic romance or a gritty crime drama, not both combined.

1 comment:

  1. At least you gave it a shot :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts Erin!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out