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by Caroline Carver
Warner Books, October 2002
288 pages
ISBN: 0892967706

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

India Kane is supposed to meet her friend Lauren for a vacation in Cooinda, in the Australian outback. Unfortunately her car breaks down many miles short of its destination, stranding her in the outback. After many hours a man who introduces himself as Tiger picks her up. He tells her Cooinda is also known as Blood Junction because back in the 1950s several aborigines were massacred there. Tiger takes India to the hotel where she is supposed to meet Lauren. Lauren isn't there, so Tiger takes her on to the bed and breakfast she and Lauren are staying. Lauren isn't there, either, and India falls asleep.

Next morning she goes into Cooinda to check on her car, which hasn't even been fetched yet. She waits in Albert's cafe. Soon a mob appears accusing her of murdering Tiger, and she is taken into custody. She finds out that a woman's body was found with Tiger's, and her papers identify her as Lauren Kennedy. India goes to the morgue and identifies the body of the woman that had been her best friend since childhood. Heartsick she is taken back to jail and interrogated first by the "good cop" Jerome Whitelaw and then by the "bad cop" Stan Bacon. When she won't confess Bacon puts her in a cell with Mike Johnson, aka Mikey the Knife. Mikey sleeps, apparently unaware of his role as confession-inducing threat. He is released in the morning. Eventually the police have to let India go as well, for lack of evidence. As soon as she starts investigating on her own another murder frames India again. This time she runs into the outback to hide and meets a mentor who helps her survive.

An over-the-top plot and initially unsympathetic characters seem to limit the appeal of the book, until one realizes one is gripping the book tightly and can't wait to see what happens next. The adventure takes over, and a wild ride it is. The characters become more likeable. India leaves her grief and fear behind as much as she can as her instincts as an investigative journalist take over. Publisher's Weekly named Blood Junction one of the best mysteries of the year. It is certainly an intriguing one.

Reviewed by Mary A. Axford, December 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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