26 September 2023

The Reach

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By B. Michael Radburn, Pantera Press, $12.99.

A remote town with a dark past, Devlins Reach, on the shores of the Hawkesbury River, is where three bodies are unearthed in an excavation site. When park ranger Taylor Bridges, is asked to assist local police, he soon discovers the town has a disturbing history. The disquieting past matches the wilderness expert’s own troubled history.

Once the bodies are discovered, the tension is tangible. Radburn propels the reader forward through a fast-paced and compactly plotted storyline that keeps you guessing. The picturesque beauty of this quiet location is hiding something darker than Taylor could have anticipated. Someone is targeting the residents one-by-one in a town of uncommunicative locals.

There appears to be no way in or out. The Reach goes into lockdown as a torrential storm surges ever closer. Taylor finds himself in a race against the power of nature to find a desperate killer before the whole town goes under.

The third novel in the Taylor Bridges series, the book holds its own as a stand-alone story. The idea behind it comes from Radburn’s love of hidden places. He remembers reading about the buried “ships and boats in the reclaimed land of San Francisco after the gold rush, and knew he had to use something similar in a local setting. The upper Hawksbury region was the perfect location and formed the genesis of The Reach.”

“Also the history of the place, from 1st Fleet settlers and beyond to the Indigenous first nation people who had lived harmoniously with the land since the first sunrise. It’s just haunting.”

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