She grew up in a hippie commune here, but the small Australian town of Nulgarra with its heat and bugs and lack of modern conveniences is no longer Georgia Parish’s home. Eager to get back to her big-city life as a publishing rep, at the last moment she gets a seat on a small aircraft flying back. When the aircraft crashes soon after, Georgia finds herself back in Queensland trying to fulfill a co-passenger’s dying wish.
Things go rapidly awry as it begins to appear the flight was sabotaged. Then a Chinese triad kidnaps Georgia and later holds her mother as a hostage. Racing against time and facing stiff resistance from disbelieving cops, Georgia has to solve the puzzle about a mysterious serum. She’s alternately aided and hampered in her desperate efforts by a mystical healer, a dogged journalist, a former crush, lots of giant crocodiles as well as a mysterious Chinese guy who may or may not be the villainous mastermind.
Caroline Carver made a name for herself with her well-received debut Blood Junction three years previously. Now in this, her second book, Carver continues to enchant and engross her readers with yet another roller-coaster ride of a mystery set in the lush but lethal landscape of Australia’s outback. The convoluted plot spotlights the growing problem of people smuggling that’s been plaguing the country and takes an interesting look at the issue from the perspective of both the illegal immigrants and the Aussies themselves. Georgia Parish’s troubles seem unending and seem a bit overblown. But in Carver’s deft hands, this transformation from an ordinary, frightened woman into a tough, ballsy warrior feels convincing. Fast-paced with more twists than a slalom and well-populated with unpredictable characters, Dead Heat is a mystery-thriller that’s ingenious, effective and overall non-stop entertainment.