Callie Jones has never had any reason to mistrust her husband Dale, until the day that derails her entire life. How could Callie have been so wrong about the man she had chosen to spend the rest of her life with?
Fleeing from the eyes of the press after Dale’s violent death, Callie takes up the offer of a friend to stay in a cottage in the grounds of a lovely old mansion that has sadly been allowed to decay in the hands of its elderly owner. It’s a lovely place for Callie to rethink her options, and she is not deterred by the spooky stories attached to the main house and surrounds. Small Tasmanian towns can keep their secrets just as well as anywhere else and Callie now has enough of her own to protect. As she begins to become aware that someone is watching her and moving creepy toys are around the cottage as she sleeps, Callie increasingly no longer feels safe in her remote rural hideaway. The creepy neighbour who won’t take no for an answer is unsettling enough and those weird markings around the doorways and windows? What on earth are they meant to ward off, or allow in?
Nearby Calico Mountain is a hive of industry and the family that run the tourist lodge always have a million ongoing concerns. Manager Connor Atherton though is beginning to seriously rethink his decision of participating in a project that provides work opportunities to ex prisoners. The slaying of a beloved horse, the disappearance of one of the new workers plus a murder all adds up to chaos and the possibility of the tourist lodge losing both custom and solid employees. Thank heavens Connor now has Callie in his life to help him sort it all out.
Author Sarah Barrie has written a large cast of characters into this book and it can be a bit of a challenge to keep them all in sharp focus as you read DEVIL’S LAIR. Granted there are threads included for future works featuring secondary characters, which are easy enough to flag as you encounter them.
The book jaunts along with jarring death after jarring death which do not sit well alongside the otherwise cozy narrative of a woman finding love again after trauma. The two worlds do not collide so well in DEVIL’S LAIR which struggles to keep an ongoing momentum with the slayings that should have attracted a huge police presence, not just the attention of local country cops, and the budding romance of a widow with the local gorgeous bachelor. Can absolutely see this book as a fully formed romance novel without were it not for the crime elements being introduced, but cannot see that DEVIL’S LAIR would be convincing in reverse.
If you like character driven dramas set in small communities, you will appreciate DEVIL’S LAIR as it is rather sweet and dialogue driven and does not spend time delving into all the gritty details of a detailed homicide investigation. This is not a suspenseful read by any means but you will quickly become invested in seeing a happy ending for Callie after all that she has experienced.
For readers of The Dark Lake and The Dry, comes this taut psychological suspense set in a dramatic Tasmanian landscape from bestselling author Sarah Barrie.
A lonely widow, a sinister act, a remote mansion with a dark past...
After the violent death of her husband, Callie Jones retreats to a cottage in the grounds of an old mansion in Tasmania. The relative remoteness of the place and the wild beauty of the Tasmanian landscape are a balm to her shattered nerves and the locals seem friendly, particularly horseman Connor Atherton and his siblings at the nearby property, Calico Lodge.
But all is not well: the old mansion has a sinister past, one associated with witchcraft and murder. As Callie is threatened by odd events in the night and strange dreams overtake her sleep, she begins to doubt her own sanity. What's really going on beneath the surface of this apparently peaceful town? Are her friends and neighbours really who they seem? As events escalate, Callie starts to realise that the mansion may hold the key to unlocking the mystery, but the truth might have as much power to destroy as it does to save.
I finished this last night and was really disappointed. Over-the-top murders and almost bizarrely casual responses to them. Some parts seemed badly written - at one point the story skipped forward a few days but there nothing to indicate the passage of time. The whole thing felt rough and unpolished.