Bloodtree River

She wants him, but can she trust him?​​​

Indiana O’Meara is no stranger to the forces of evil. Her own past is full of violence. Now a policewoman, Indy is always fighting to redeem herself and defeat the dark.

So when girls begin to go missing at a remote cattle station in Tasmania, she is quick to agree to go undercover to investigate chief suspect, the owner of Calico Mountain Lodge, Logan Atherton, even though last time she went undercover it came to a bloody end. But her early encounter with Logan Atherton reveals a man full of contradictions. His deep empathy for horses and those he cares for is obvious but he is also taciturn to the point of rudeness, and there is a strange atmosphere at the lodge. It doesn’t add up.


As Indy begins to dig deeper into the secrets at the Lodge, she finds herself embroiled in a murderous web more complex and terrifying than she could ever have imagined…

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Extract

​Crack! The explosion of pain radiated from her closed fist to her shoulder, reverberated down her spine. ‘Damn it!’ she hissed from between clenched teeth. Shooting the tattooed teen with the bad attitude would have been overkill, but it would have hurt a lot less than the punch.
    ‘Mummy!’
    Detective Indiana O’Meara swung around, pulling her gun out and settling it into its correct grip as she assessed the scene. Squeezed between a tattered lounge chair and a television cabinet at the far end of the lounge room, Matthew Davies huddled on the floor, tiny arms wrapped around knobbly knees as another perp dragged the boy’s mother towards the shattered, floor-to-ceiling second-storey window.
    Strung out on whatever it was that had him scratching and sweating, the guy holding onto Matthew’s mother was in no rational state of mind. Desperation was pouring from him; his Metallica T-shirt was soaked with sweat. He pulled the near-hysterical young woman more tightly against him, the four-inch-long blade of his pocket knife against her throat.
Indy flicked a glance to the door. Where the hell was her backup? She’d walked in on the scene accidentally—had stopped by to talk to Sasha Davies, a nineteen-year-old junkie with a murdered boyfriend, and had heard the commotion from the street. She’d called it in before entering the flat to find the two perps messing the place up and terrorising Sasha and her young son.
    Dealers, she’d quickly surmised. Sasha must owe them money.
    ‘Let her go,’ Indy ordered, her gaze steady, ‘and we’ll sort this out.’
    ‘You’ll shoot me!’ He dragged Sasha back another step until there was no space for more, and took a nervous glance down. ‘I’ll take her out with me!’
    ‘No! Please!’ Sasha’s voice broke. Tears trickled down her face as she almost collapsed with fear. Indy uselessly willed her to be calm.
    ‘I’m not going to shoot you. I’m putting my gun away. See?’ She made a show of replacing it in the holster. ‘I just want to talk.’
    ‘About what? How you’re gonna lock me up?’
    ‘I’m not interested in you. Not yet. That changes if you make any bad decisions in the next few seconds. Understand?’
    ‘What do you want?’ He swiped at a trickle of perspiration on his face with his shoulder, pressing the knife against Sasha’s throat. Sasha flinched. Indy noted the thin trickle of blood that ran from the blade and her heart rate kicked up another notch.
    ‘I want us all to walk out of here in one piece. I want to know who you’re working for. You let her go, you tell me that, you walk away.’
    His crazed eyes were darting around as though the walls might tell him what to do. ‘I just came to get the money like I was told to.’
    She moved around the room, stepping carefully over the mess the two had made of Sasha’s things, trying to get closer without appearing to.
    ‘Where are you going?’ He demanded, lifting his elbow outwards to make his knife appear more threatening.
    ‘I’m getting out of the way of the door, because you can still leave. I promise you.’
    ‘You swear?’
    ‘I swear.’
    ‘Okay … okay. There’s a guy.’
    ‘What guy?’
    He was shaking, pallid. If he slipped, she was still too far away to help Sasha. ‘Dunno.’
    ‘Where?’
    ‘Down near the docks—under the Botany Road overpass.’
    She knew that part of Sydney, committed the information to memory. ‘I need a name.’
    ‘I dunno! We pick up the stuff from this guy, pay him cash. Cause we were friends with Chad, he sent us after Sash for what she and Chad owed.’
    The name immediately registered. ‘You’re talking about Chad Garvin, correct? The one found dead in a garbage bag at the dump last week?’
    ‘Yeah—yeah. He said if we mucked him around he’d send Bull after us, too.’
    She inched closer, closer. ‘Who’s Bull?’
    ‘The one that took out Chad.’
    A little closer again. She pushed her luck, took another step. Glass crunched underfoot. ‘When are you supposed to meet the one you deal with?’
    A siren sounded, closed in. His eyes rounded on hers. ‘You lied!’
    ‘I didn’t. I—wait!’
    Panicked, he stepped back into nothing.

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Bamboozling Mystery: Bloodtree River by Sarah Barrie

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Strange things have been happening at Calico Mountain Lodge in Tasmania where it appears that a serial killer is on the loose, even though some of the townspeople would rather deny the unusually suspicious pattern of murders and disappearances. Although reluctant to take up the assignment in the beginning, it’s up to Detective Indiana (‘Indy’) O’Meara to unveil the faceless killer in this twisty rural suspense, skillfully crafted by the author of the bestselling Hunters Ridge series.