Returning home to the sweltering rain forests of Nulgarra, Queensland, to attend her father's funeral, Georgia Parish gets much more than she bargains for. When her plane crashes in suspicious circumstances and a woman passes her a computer disk before dying in her arms, Georgia finds herself swept up in desperate doings involving illegal immigration, the curious healing properties of crocodile blood, and brutal Chinese gangsters, who torture her and kidnap her mum. Unsure whether to trust the dark outlaw who saved her life, the intense cop who was her high-school crush, or a new-age healer with a suspicious background, our intrepid heroine depends rather a lot on the kindness of strangers, including journalist India Kane, from Carver's award-winning debut, Blood Junction (2002). An overabundance of plot threads gives the book a jumbled, baggy feel, but the nonstop stream of incidents keeps the pages turning. Add to this a well-realized exotic locale, and you have a diverting mystery-thriller for those who enjoy Nevada Barr or Elizabeth Peters.
Caroline Carver is a true adventurer-cum-novelist. The "About the Author" section was a surprising last page to this book, as it told how Carver was a member of an all-female team on the 1992 London-to-Saigon Motoring Challenge, and tackled the London-to-Cape Town 4x4 Adventure Drive the next year. (Surprising because the book was not about land racing, cars, extreme sports or competition.) Happily, she appears to enjoy writing, as this was her second novel and she's written three since.
Dead Heat follows Georgia Parish as she returns to her hometown of Nulgarra, Australia for her grandfather's funeral. Having years ago left this small Aussie town for the city living in Sydney, she anticipated a short trip and a quick flight out. The flight, however, turns out to be a problem. Suddenly, Georgia finds herself an unwitting participant in a Chinese gang's attempt to recover people, information, or both. Unfortunately for Georgia, she's not sure what they want, but learns that the bad guys will literally stop at nothing to find it, and they expect her to figure it out.
I can leave the synopsis to the pros, and just say that this was a truly enjoyable read. Not at all predictable, as even some of the best mystery/thriller-types can be. It was well-written, interesting on many levels, and definitely a page-turner.