08 February 2021

Review: The Reach by B. Michael Radburn

The Reach by B. Michael Radburn book cover
* Copy courtesy of Pantera Press *

Taylor Bridges is back! We first met Park Ranger Taylor Bridges in Tasmania in The Crossing, then caught up with him in Gippsland Victoria in The Falls, and this time he's on secondment to the Hawkesbury River in NSW.

Bridges has earned a reputation as a remote crime scene specialist and this time he's heading into a remote logging community called Devlins Reach. With a population of only 320 people, Devlins Reach is accessible by ferry across the Hawkesbury River. Taylor has been asked to employ his unique set of skills to assist Detective Sergeant (DS) Ryan Everett in the investigation into the remains of three men discovered at an excavation site.

Radburn's skill at capturing the Australian bush is in full swing again and the isolated environment almost becomes a character of its own as the river swells and a huge weather event is on the way.

Small town characters feature throughout the book as DS Everett and Taylor Bridges attempt to identify the men and establish who may have wanted to harm them. The history of the island is full of secrets and unexplained disappearances and the locals are reluctant to talk; preferring to keep their secrets to themselves. Bridges shares his beliefs on energy and history which adds to the tension:
" I believe when something bad happens - and I mean something truly wicked - it can leave a stain, some kind of residue on the place; a memory that can't be wiped clean. Nothing to do with spectres, things that go bump in the night; it's more grounded than that, as if the energy sparked during that wicked deed remains burning somehow." Page 106
The Reach has a dark and otherworldly undercurrent, with an old logger's tale about a Hoodoo that takes on many forms and is responsible for men disappearing from the logger's camp. Taylor's daughter is channelling warnings from her deceased sister Claire that may or may not be relevant to the case. Many locals believe in a dark power and it's up to the reader to decide if any of it is real or not. I really enjoyed this duality and it certainly added to my reading experience.

With limited resources at hand and zero back up available, Bridges and Everett make a great team. We hear from them in alternating chapters that makes for an entertaining and convincing crime-solving endeavour. The Reach can be comfortably read as a stand alone with a few references to Taylor's background enough to inform the reader, however I do recommend you start at the beginning in order to enjoy the character arc and understand how Taylor has found himself with this unique set of skills.

This series continues to be cinematic, and I can easily imagine Bridges holding his own with many of the other single name crime and mystery solving specialists on our TV screens, like: Bones, Bosch, Cardinal, Castle, Chance, Dexter, Goliath, Harrow, House, Lucifer, Luther, Sherlock, Strike, River and Wallander. Okay, sorry, I think I got a little carried away there. Obviously single name TV shows are a 'thing' I enjoy and I totally think Bridges should be added to their company.

I really enjoy the continuity in the titles of this series, Glorys Crossing becomes The Crossing, The Falls is the location of the second book and Devlins Reach becomes The Reach. In listening to an interview with the author on the Good Reading podcast, I've learned the next book in the series is called The Wells which will be taking Taylor Bridges up north to the Northern Territory. 

What a terrific Australian crime series this is turning out to be; with each book set in a different state of Australia, readers are able to journey around the country with Taylor, solving crimes in national parks and rural and remote locations as they go. I'll definitely be looking forward to Taylor's next interstate secondment.

You can seize this book at Booktopia.

My Rating:

Would you like to comment?

  1. I didn’t realise this was the third in the Taylor Bridges series, it sounds good. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

    1. Thanks Shelleyrae I hope you give it a try, I think you'd like this Australian series.


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