Book Review: Croc Country by Kerry McGinnis

Croc Country…

About the Book:

The new outback mystery from the bestselling author of The Roadhouse.

Why would the police come back looking for a dead man?

Young widow Tilly is making a new life for herself, keeping house for the rangers at the Binboona Wildlife Sanctuary in the isolated wilderness of the north-western Gulf Country. Caring for injured wildlife and helping to run the popular tourist campsite are just the distraction she needs from everything she left behind when her husband, Gerry, and young daughter were lost at sea.

But when the police show up asking questions about Gerry, the peaceful routine she’s built is disrupted as she begins to question what really happened to her family. The arrival of botanist Connor stirs up even more emotion and has Tilly questioning who she can trust. When she and young ranger Luke stumble across evidence of wildlife smugglers on a visit to the local caves, suddenly her sanctuary is no longer safe and it becomes clear the past has well and truly come back to haunt her.

Set against the lush backdrop of the Northern Territory with its vibrant birds and deadly wildlife, this is a chilling and highly evocative family mystery about the wild and dangerous things that can happen in the most remote and untamed corners of our country.

My Thoughts:

Rural fiction, be it crime or romantic suspense, is not my usual area of interest when it comes to reading, despite living in the Outback myself, however, this one caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, the setting is up in the Gulf, in a Wildlife Sanctuary, rather than in the outback or in a small town. Second, the title of Croc Country accompanied by the publicity tag on the front cover: ‘Far greater dangers than drowning lurk in these muddy waters.’ This reeled me in. I’m a bit of a fan of these great reptilian beasts. I went into this novel then with all of these expectations, plot wise, however, my hopes were sadly dashed: not a single baddie got eaten by a croc, nor were they even threatened by one. In fact, apart from being mentioned a few times in passing, the crocs were entirely absent. As good as the book was, this did deflate me at the end. Death by crocodile, or at least a decent maiming, is one of my favourite top end crime story twists. It’s not done nearly enough.

Anyway, this aside, I did actually enjoy this book. The setting was recreated with an intensity that jumped right off the page and the characters were well fleshed out. There were a lot of layers to the story as well and it unfolded with a great deal of intrigue and suspense. The actual crimes that were taking place were of great interest to me and a bit out of the box – which I like. They were crimes that are very unique to that area and in this, they offer another view of the threats that our Australian coast line faces. I also liked the combination of police, customs officers, and rangers all working together for a common goal. On the topic of rangers, I really enjoyed reading about the ins and outs of their daily working lives. It’s a hard gig, physically demanding work, and I never realised quite the extent of it.

This novel is very much a blend of crime/suspense and romance, but the romance is pretty light on and only really develops towards the end of the novel, which I appreciated, to be honest. It left room for the main plot to unfold and for those of us who don’t favour romance, there was no risk of it taking over the story. I enjoyed the interactions between the characters and the few wildlife ‘regulars’ they had as permanent residents. This really is an ideal read for anyone interested in Australian wildlife, ranging, and the top end. It provided a relaxing way to fill my mid-week evenings and introduced me to a few things I wasn’t previously aware of.


Thanks is extended to Penguin Random House Australia for providing me with a copy of Croc Country for review.

About the Author:

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 Mount 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, The Heartwood Hotel and The Roadhouse. Kerry now lives in Bundaberg.

Croc Country
Published by Penguin Random House Australia
Released 2nd July 2020

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