Mackenzie Crossing by Kaye Dobbie follows Skye Stewart, a photographer on a mission to seek her long lost grandfather. What she didn’t expect to find is a past she would have preferred stayed forgotten…
It’s 1939 and photographer Neville Darling is hoping to escape an unhappy marriage and the dreams that haunt him after the war. His hunt for the perfect photograph to heal his soul sees him travel to rural Australia and the town of Mackenzie Crossing, where he meets Georgie Mackenzie. Neville quickly knows she is the subject he has been looking for. As an out of control bushfire rages ever closer, Georgie and Neville wonder whether they can have a life together – if they survive the terrible blaze.
Sixty years later, after her mother’s passing, Skye finds a photograph taken by Neville of a woman standing in Mackenzie Crossing. Feeling a connection with her long-lost grandfather due to their shared passion for photography, Skye is determined to create an exhibition around his work, and find out the truth of what happened to the man who ran away from her mother and grandmother. She heads out to the closest town, Elysian, only to discover that Mackenzie Crossing was destroyed in the terrible Black Friday bushfires, and there were no survivors. Unable to shake the hunch that Neville didn’t perish in the flames, Skye asks for help from Sergeant Galloway, who much to her dismay turns out to be Finn, her first love.
Finn and Skye have a rocky past that led them to be dragged away from each other, never to speak again. Skye has always had a issue with letting go to what happened all those years ago, and judging by Finn’s attitude, she’s not the only one. With the locals not giving Skye any help with her search, to the point where she thinks they’re hiding the truth from her, Skye must trust Finn again – but at what price? Is she willing to face up to what happened all those years ago? As tensions build and secrets come undone, Skye wonders if she will be able to put Neville’s past to rest, as well as her own.
Told in Neville’s voice back in 1939 and Skye’s in 1997 (with a few diversions to Skye’s past with Finn), Mackenzie Crossing is well plotted, and holds onto its mystery until the last page. There are two stories to uncover, and as the novel jumps between time periods, you are desperate to reach the conclusion. You’ll enjoy stepping back in time to Neville’s journey during the Black Friday fires, and his relationship with Georgie. Unlike Skye in the present day, we come to learn why Neville did what he did, and wish for both him and Georgie to survive and be together. Brimming with details about the fires, that make you feel as if you’re really there during that horrific time, it’s a dramatic contrast to Skye’s search during a very icy winter.
Kaye Dobbie is a masterful storyteller in Mackenzie Crossing. You are swept up in the lives of Skye, Neville, Finn and Georgie, and are as invested to discover the truth as Skye is. For those who love photography, the passion both Skye and Neville share is fascinating, and the details of Australia in the 1930’s are enough for any historical fiction lover. An easy read about family, love and mystery, it’s the perfect book to curl up with during the Christmas break, but you won’t be putting it down until the answers are revealed.
After winning a local short story contest Kaye Dobbie decided to make a career as a writer. As well as writing for Avon in the USA under the name Sara Bennett, over the years Kaye Dobbie has also written for Mills & Boon/Harlequin as Deborah Miles and as Lilly Sommers in Australia. She is currently juggling writing with sharing an old house and big garden with her husband, as well as far too many animals.