Seattle orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Tom Baxter thought it would be fun to take his new wife, 24-year-old Heather and his two children along with him on a work trip to Australia. The children, 14-year-old Olivia and 12-year-old Owen are still missing their mother who had only died a year ago and have yet to bond with their new step mother. A holiday would also help Heather get used to suddenly becoming the stepmother of two adolescents.
After a few days in Sydney and then Uluru, the family arrive in Melbourne where Heather and the kids are staying in a house at the beach while Tom is at a medical conference where he is a keynote speaker. On his day off they decide to drive down the Mornington Peninsula hoping to see some Australian animals in the wild. However, they arrive at the coast without seeing a single kangaroo or koala. When a couple of men, clearly brothers, tell them that Dutch Island, just across the bay where their family, the O’Neills live, has plenty of wild kangaroos and penguins, Tom offers them a large sum to take them across there. The men agree to ferry them over, along with a Dutch couple, Hans and Petra, who ask to come along, but only if they agree not go anywhere near the farmhouse in the middle of the island where their family lives and to be back in 45 minutes to be ferried back to the mainland.
Once on the island, the Baxters have a terrible accident and with no mobile phone reception decide to leave the island and report it to police on the mainland, but before they can leave the brothers find out and decide to hold them hostage along with Hans and Petra until Ma, the head of the O’Neill family, decides what to do about the accident. The tourists feel safe going with the brothers – this is Australia after all, what could possibly happen to them?
What happens next is a thrilling, heart pounding fight for survival. With the women and children separated from the men it’s up to Heather to step up and use all her resources and life skills to keep the kids safe and for them put their trust in her. The tension is palpable with each twist and cliff-hanger pushing it higher until you need to stop to take a breath. Well written with great characters, vividly drawn Australian landscapes and a chilling, dynamo of a plot. Hold on to the edge of your seats – this is Australian noir at its best!
With thanks to Little, Brown and Company via Netgalley for a copy to read.