Chills and Thrills as a Reunion in the French Alps Turns Deadly

Shiver by Allie Reynolds

Cover of the book 'Shiver' by Allie Reynolds featuring a snow covered mountain and a lone snowboarder making their way down the mountain. Off to one side is an isolated lodge. Image is to accompany the book review on the same page.

This thriller by Australian author Allie Reynolds is the perfect winter read! Five friends are invited to a reunion at a resort in the French Alps. They haven’t seen each other in ten years. The last time they were all together, they were at the peak of their competitive snowboarding careers. That is until one friend suffered a near-fatal injury during a competition and another friend never showed up to compete at all – her disappearance still a mystery ten years on.

Upon arriving at the isolated resort, the group are surprised to learn that there are no other guests, no staff and an icebreaker game awaits them in the resort’s function room. The game quickly ignites past grievances and incites new ones. Along with increasingly strange happenings at the resort, the group are on edge – questioning who invited them to this reunion, who they can trust and most disturbing of all, what really happened to their missing friend Saskia all those years ago?

Shiver has great pace from the get-go. It flips between the present and the past with both timelines providing engrossing storylines. It delves into the competitive world of professional snowboarding. These athletes live, socialise, train and compete at the highest level with the same people for months at a time in fairly isolated areas. In Shiver, this means walking a fine line between friendship and maintaining that competitive edge, and what can happen when that line is over-stepped in both directions.

Shiver is author Allie Reynolds’ first book. Nowadays Allie lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, where she has traded her snowboard for a surfboard after spending five winters in the mountains of France, Switzerland, Austria and Canada as a professional freestyle snowboarder. Reading Allie’s book, you get a sense that it was written by someone who has been immersed in the world of professional snowboarding and experienced that level of competition first-hand.

Don’t let the snowboarding terminology throughout the novel put you off. If you don’t know your ‘Cripplers’ from your ‘McTwists‘, it shouldn’t affect your enjoyment of the story. Frankly, I’d rather go to a beach dressed as a giant hot chip and be set amongst a flock of seagulls than entertain the prospect of a snow holiday. Shiver provides the perfect winter escape, and reading it on the couch with a hot chocolate in hand means you’re far less likely to fall into a crevasse.

Shiver by Allie Reynolds, published by Hachette Australia, 2021. 421 pages.

Page-turning Australian Murder Mystery

The Survivors by Jane Harper

Cover of the book The Survivors by Jane Harper featuring ocean waves crashing into the wall of a rocky cave. Image to accompany book review on the same page.

Kieran Elliott lives with the guilt of the events that occurred one devastating day twelve years ago, when a once-in-80-year storm hit the small, coastal town of Evelyn Bay. The consequences of decisions made that day were fatal, and the disappearance of a local, fourteen year old girl was never resolved.

When Kieran returns to visit Evelyn Bay with his young family, it is soon apparent that all is not forgotten or forgiven by some of the locals. Then, the body of a young waitress is discovered on the beach. 

For Kieran, the investigation that follows presents questions that can’t be ignored, and revelations that prompt him to reconsider everything he thought he knew about the events that unfolded on the day of the storm. 

The Survivors is the fourth novel from popular Australian crime writer, Jane Harper. Her other books include The Dry, Force of Nature and The Lost Man.  As with these previous novels, The Survivors is an absolute page turner, with plenty of twists along the way. It delivers several interesting, likeable, well-crafted characters and a story that keeps you guessing right from the start.

I love the unique and distinctly Australian landscapes Harper features as the settings for her books. In The Survivors, Harper has captured the rugged beauty of the east coast of Tasmania; a coastline of sunken ships, enormous caves that tunnel through the cliff face, and cold, blue ocean as far as the eye can see. 

Jane Harper offers enjoyable and dependable murder-mysteries and has a real knack for teasing out a story. Whilst the ending wasn’t necessarily predictable, it didn’t come as a complete surprise either. But overall, the rest of the story was so entertaining and the ending still believable that I really didn’t mind.

Published 2020 by Pan Macmillan Australia.

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