by Lee Christine

Publisher: Allen & Unwin, 2024

Publisher’s blurb

A murdered judge. Two missing lawyers. A thrilling tale of mystery and suspense from the bestselling author of Charlotte Pass and Dead Horse Gap.

After Justice Maurice Tempest dies violently in the Glenrock State Conservation Area in Newcastle, local detective Senior Sergeant Callan O’Connor is urgently called to the scene. 

Days later a second body is found in the same location, turning what had looked like a revenge killing into so much more.

Former political journalist Angela Avery has been spending a lot of time at the Hunter Valley prison interviewing a soon-to-be-released forger, and when O’Connor’s investigation reveals an interest in him Angela is determined to protect both her source and her fledgling relationship with O’Connor.

Meanwhile, two young female lawyers from a law firm in Sydney have disappeared.

Are the missing lawyers linked to the dead judge? Can O’Connor unravel the connections before the body count rises further? And how much does Angela Avery really know?


by Carol Woeltjes

Who knew an early morning walk could fill you with such trepidation? The air dense with moisture and foreboding; the trees and shadow hiding an unknown menace or is that just in the mind of our walker, focused on his day, a day of judgement, a day when a difficult decision must be made. A day that, he knows, will change everything.

The light from Justice Tempest headlamp illuminates his steps but deepens the darkness of the surrounding bushland — that is until the darkness moves. Searching for answers to the murder of Justice Tempest, police find another body nearby and two young lawyers from a city firm disappear. Is there connection and what does a journalist and her article for a weekend magazine have to do with it?

For me this novel is about the characters. Lee Christine has created characters of such realism that I find myself wondering what they’re doing the day after the Glenrock finishes. Christine shows the characters flaws and insecurities with sensitivity and emotion. They have lives, not just roles to play, backstories that are believable and futures that are planned. They’re also the key to unwrapping what happened to Justice Tempest.

Each of the main characters: a police officer, a journalist, and two lawyers, build on the layers of the story, allowing it to unfold as I imagine it would in reality. The pieces slowly link up to form a whole. It’s the dexterity and skill of Christine’s writing that allows so many pieces to come together seamlessly.

This masterful use of detail allows for unforeseen connections and the well-paced dripping of information keeps you turning the pages, as do the characters and the need to understand what’s driving them. An underlying driver seems to be justice, not just for what is currently happening, but for the past misdeeds, not necessarily done by the characters themselves.

This book is a gem, its ticks all the boxes, brilliant characters that you come to care for, a slow burning suspense and masterful twists. What’s not to love.