Charlotte Pass by Lee Christine

‘They had to jump or die.’

Crime fiction set in Australia’s Snowy Mountains?  This book was always going to find a place on my reading list.

Human bones are discovered high on Mount Stilwell, near Charlotte Pass, by ski patroller Vanessa Bell. They seem to be the remains of Celia Delaney, a young woman who went missing from Charlotte Pass during a ferocious storm in the winter of 1964.

The case is assigned to Detective Sergeant Pierce Ryder from the Sydney Homicide Squad. He’s at first reluctant to accept the case (he’d been in the area for a different investigation). But when an autopsy reveals evidence of foul play, Ryder has an old murder to investigate.

The investigation coincides with a major celebration, and not everyone wants to assist. Then a second murder occurs, and the resort is locked down.  Ryder thinks that there’s a connection between the two murders and that the murderer is still in the village.  Can he identify the murderer before anyone else is killed?

The story moves at a rapid pace.  There are several potential murderers, and a few twists in the tale.  There’s also some interesting history about an old chairlift.  Pierce Ryder and Vanessa Bell are both interesting characters, as is the detective who initially investigated the 1964 missing person case. 

I really enjoyed this novel: both setting and story held my attention from beginning to end.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith