BoatGirl’s #CBR4 Review #44-45: Blood Ties and Blood Sport by JD Nixon
I found Blood Ties and Blood Sport after racing through the Heller series by the same author (and which I’ll review next). JD Nixon is an Australian author, publishing on Smashwords, so I believe her work is only available as ebooks. As I’ve devoured 6 of her books in about 2 weeks, it is clear that I enjoy her writing.
Blood Ties and Blood Sport star Tess Fuller, a policewoman in a small coastal village called Little Town, somewhere in Australia. Although she had left her village for university and a few years working in the city, she has returned to support her cancer stricken father. This puts her life in danger as well since for over a hundred years, there has been a one sided murderous spree conducted by the Bycraft family against Fuller women. The Bycrafts are the local inbred, ne’er do well, hillbilly criminals of the sort that most people from a small town are familiar with (every town has a family like them) but this family is in overdrive. For some unknown reason, they are obsessed with Fuller women; hopefully this will be more fully delved into in future books.
Blood Ties begins with the retirement of Tess’s completely ineffectual boss Des, a useless cop who spent his time between the bar and his mistress’s apartment, leaving Tess to cope with the entirety of law enforcement for the area. Luckily, his replacement is the very able Finn Maguire, or Sarge. For the first time, Tess has a partner willing to back her up so that the Bycrafts can be held accountable for their thievery, vandalism and personal attacks. Sarge doesn’t get all the complexities of small town life, however, which ends up provoking the Bycrafts when he arrests the family matriarch leading 4 of her sons to attack Tess while alone in the police station. Blood Sport continues the story, with the meanest of the Bycrafts, Red, having escaped from jail and still out to kill Tess. Luckily, Tess manages to take him down and is then free to focus on real crime going on in her village – a troop of bikers appears to be doing unsavory things with underage girls. Tess and Sarge have to find enough evidence to convince the higher ups in Big Town that crimes have been committed and need looking into.
Knowing very little about Australia, it really isn’t clear to me what part of the country/continent the stories are set in. On occasion, people refer to going to the city, about 7 hours drive away, but whether that is supposed to be Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth or Darwin I couldn’t tell you. I’d love to know where it is set. Even though Little Town and Big Town are fictional, it would be great to know that they are based on a certain town or area so I could look at pictures online to see what it might look like. The local dialect that was used was really cool, as the author used words such as ‘ute’ for truck and ‘doona’ for something that would be on a bed.j
I really enjoyed the character of Tess. She is kind but kick ass and makes no excuses. She gets that it is okay to cry when there is a good reason, and it’s nice to dress up once in a while, but she is powerful and makes no excuses about it. She’s very much a feminist. She has a strong role model in Fiona, the head of police in Big Town and her mentor from early childhood. Fiona has the mouth of a sailor and sexually harasses everyone around her to get things done. Actually, from reading these books (as well as the Heller books) I’m getting the impression that Australian culture pretty much is defined by sexual harassment. Another interesting character is Tess’s boyfriend, Jake Bycraft. It’s mentioned that once a generation, the Bycrafts produce a family member who is an upstanding member of society, maybe even a hero, and that may be Jake. The couple is occasionally likened to Romeo and Juliet due to the hatred between the families, although from the readers perspective, it is pretty one sided – Bycrafts kill Fullers. Jake seems to be a pretty ordinary, albeit exceedingly handsome and nice guy, but he can’t unify his family with his girlfriend. That does strike an odd note, for even though it’s understandable to have to make excuses for your families foibles, making excuses for them trying to repeatedly rape and murder your girlfriend is a little hard to understand. In future books, I think he’ll have to either jettison his family or leave town completely.
I think the last book I read set in Australia was The Thorn Birds. This was much more fun and is inspiring me to read more Australian fiction and learn about the country.