The Roadhouse by Kerry McGinnis is her eleventh novel, a suspenseful mystery set in the Australian Outback region, which Kerry loves and knows so well.
It begins when Charlie Carver, who is already questioning her acting abilities and her chances of finding work in Melbourne, learns of her cousin, Annabelle’s, suicide. She decides to fly home to be with her mother, who refuses to admit that she is struggling to maintain the family business. When Charlie arrives at the remote roadhouse, east of Alice Springs, that she left five years ago, she realises her mother is ill. Their relationship has always been strained and Charlie tentatively tries to get her mother to rest. Within days, however, her mother suffers a heart attack and is air-lifted to Adelaide for life-saving surgery.
Charlie has no hesitation in taking charge of the business with the help of their grouchy, long-time handyman, Bob. Luckily the new cook, a Polish backpacker named Ute, arrives and proves to be an excellent worker. She and Charlie quickly become good friends, as does a stockman called Mike, who is mustering on a nearby property.
With her mother in hospital, it is up to Charlie to take over the particulars regarding Annabelle’s death. As much as she disliked Annabelle, who was selfish and spiteful, she decides to do the right thing by her and organise a wake, despite the fact that her body hasn’t been found.
Constable Tom Cleary, has already returned Annabelle’s few belongings and indicated that the case is closed, when a woman’s body is discovered at a nearby derelict mine site. Charlie is puzzled and begins to suspect that Annabelle’s suicide could have been faked. Shortly afterwards, the Roadhouse is thoroughly ransacked as if someone is looking for something. Could this be linked to a visit Annabelle made shortly before her death?
Did Charlie really know Annabelle at all and will she survive the threat to her own life when she comes close to discovering the truth?
This is an enjoyable and suspenseful romantic mystery. The story moves along very nicely and has the reader on the edge of their seat until all is revealed. The characters are very well-written and authentic. The detailed description of the Australian outback transports the reader to its vast spaces and the endless tracts of red, dusty landscapes. The narrative imparts an awareness of the loneliness and isolation of the outback community. However, it is made plain that, despite the distances, close friendships are formed, along with the reassurance of support in times of crisis. The Roadhouse is a must-read page-turner for 2019.
The Roadhouse is available in paperback and e-book
About Kerry McGinnis
Kerry McGinnis was born in Adelaide and, at the age of twelve, took up a life of droving with her father and four siblings. The family travelled extensively across the Northern Territory and Queensland before settling on a station in the Gulf Country. Kerry has worked as a shepherd, droving hand, gardener and stock-camp and station cook on the family property, Bowthorn, north-west of Mt Isa. She is the author of two volumes of memoir, Pieces of Blue and Heart Country, and the bestselling novels The Waddi Tree,Wildhorse Creek, Mallee Sky, Tracking North, Out of Alice, Secrets of the Springs andThe Heartwood Hotel. Kerry now lives in Bundaberg.