Tallowwood – N.R. Walker
Cold cases, murder, lies, and an unimaginable truth.
Sydney detective August Shaw has spent the last decade of work solving cold cases. Since the death of his boyfriend eight years ago, August works alone, lives alone, is alone — and that’s exactly how he likes it. His work is his entire life, and he’s convinced a string of unsolved cold-case suicides are linked to what could be Australia’s worst ever serial killer. Problem is, no one believes him.
Senior Constable Jacob Porter loves his life in the small town of Tallowwood in the middle of the rainforests in northern New South Wales. He runs summer camps for the local Indigenous kids, plays rugby with his mates, has a close family, and he’s the local LGBTQIA+ Liaison and the Indigenous Liaison Officer.
When human remains are found in the camping grounds at Tallowwood Reserve, Jake’s new case turns out to be linked to August’s cold cases, and Jake agrees they’re not suicides at all. With Jacob now firmly in August’s corner, they face one hurdle after another, even when more remains are found, they still can’t seem to gain ground.
But when the body of a fellow police officer turns up under the same MO, it can’t be ignored anymore. August and Jake must trace the untraceable before the killer takes his next victim or before he stops one of them, permanently.
Another beautiful masterpiece from N.R. Walker!
Tallowwood is intense, gripping and moving with just enough fluff to keep things from becoming too dark.
August Shaw is a cold case detective working on an 18-year old serial killing case that nobody takes seriously, mainly because the victims were gay. One of them was his boyfriend, Christopher, who he found dead in their bathtub 8 years ago. It was made to look like suicide like the other victims. But August knew Christopher wouldn’t take his own life.
August ‘wears his grief like an old coat‘. He’s drawn into himself, he’s socially awkward, an asshole to others and very, very determined to prove that what were ruled as suicides were actually murders. He’s almost to the point of obsession. It took a small town constable with a winning smile to shed light on a little known fact: the gritty detective could be so damn adorkable!
Jacob Porter is a senior constable in Tallowwood who contacted August in order to consult him with a case that might be related to the detective’s. Jacob is a cheerful, very likable person who’s also smart and very good at his job. He is a ray of sunshine with a side of bossy. You have no choice but to love him.
The two men discovered they worked well as a team. They go over case files, visit families of victims, open old wounds, and sought fresh perspectives for that much needed break in the case. While doing so, they bond over food, small town life, Scarlet the cat, and kookaburras.
The book treated its subject with appropriate gravity and depth. It talks about grief, loss, needing closure and giving oneself a chance to move on. Even with these weighty themes, the story didn’t feel too heavy. The author was able to inject humor with perfect timing. It done so naturally without ruining the profundity of the moment.
My heart went out to August. I could feel his grief and frustrations pouring off the page. He’s one of those characters who badly needs a hug. I loved how Jacob showed him simple acts of kindness that worked so effectively. He made him feel safe and cared for. The romance was appropriately slow-burn and one of the best of its kind out there.
Tallowwood is a complex, well-written police procedural. I liked how it focused 80% on the mystery while still delivering a wonderfully done second chance romance. Not only was the mystery hard to solve but people in high places were placing roadblocks whenever they could. I thoroughly enjoyed going through the nitty gritty of the investigation. I was in the dark until the author dropped the big hints.
I loved how the author built up the suspense and brought everything together in an explosive climax. All loose ends were resolved completely and we were even gifted with a delightful epilogue. I couldn’t ask for a better ending.
This is the kind of book you’ll want to read non-stop from start to finish. I would have done so if not for the need to sleep. I recommend reading this on a weekend so you could binge. And remember to always watch the kookaburras.
5 Stars – absolutely perfect