A hot summer. A shocking murder. A town of secrets, waiting to explode… A beautiful young teacher has been murdered, her body found in the lake, strewn with red roses.
Local policewoman Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock pushes to be assigned to the case, concealing the fact that she knew the murdered woman in high school years before.
But that’s not all Gemma’s trying to hide. As the investigation digs deeper into the victim’s past, other secrets threaten to come to light, secrets that were supposed to remain buried.
The lake holds the key to solving the murder, but it also has the power to drag Gemma down into its dark depths…
The Dark Lake opens with a dead body in a lake – a body which is soon identified as popular teacher Rosalind Ryan. The news shakes the town of Smithson to its core especially detective Gemma Woodstock who we discover was at school with Rosalind. Fans of The Dry will already be loving the sound of Sarah Bailey’s debut novel and what’s not to love? A small Australian town, a mysterious death and buried secrets make for an engrossing and atmospheric read that will keep you gripped until its conclusion.
The Beast from the East was a pain in the neck, but every cloud has a silver lining and three days at home to devote to reading meant that The Dark Lake has been read from cover to cover by all three members of this household with a resounding thumbs up from all concerned. I loved the atmospheric writing and a sense that we are right alongside Gemma as she uncovers things lurking beneath the surface in Smithson.
It is a testament to Sarah Bailey’s writing that the small town atmosphere of rumour and grudges is vividly brought to life on the page and we follow Gemma and partner Felix McKinnon as they investigate the life of Rosalind to get a better picture of how she lived her life. They are curious about her decision to return to the small town in the first place – what or who has drawn her back and has this got anything to do with her demise? After all, why would anyone want to murder Rosalind? Finding out what lurks under the peaceful outer appearance of Smithson was definitely one of this novel’s strengths and I very much enjoyed their efforts to get to the truth – no matter how murky things got.
We also discover that even back in the day, when they were students together, Gemma never really felt like she knew the ‘real’ Rosalind. There is a touch of the Laura Palmer here in the way that an ordinary small town can be hiding so much and the slow reveal was equally satisfying – if a little less bizarre, obviously. Gemma and Felix are perplexed by a fair few aspects of Gemma’s life in the modern day too – why for example did she take up residence in a far from salubrious apartment when her dad was clearly very wealthy? For someone who seemed so beloved by the town the only thing that seems clear about Gemma’s investigation is that everything seems very unclear as far as Rosalind is concerned…
Add Gemma’s own secrets into the mix and the pressure soon begins to simmer as we follow her deeper and deeper into the town’s hidden heart. No-one here is entirely blameless and you will definitely enjoy working out whose version of events seems closest to the truth as the investigation gets more and more complex.
The Dark Lake is first and foremost a blooming good read. Sarah Bailey’s debut novel reads like the work of someone far more established and her setting is fantastically well realised. It almost feels like True Crime at times – praise indeed from me – as you get so absorbed in the story and really want to see where it takes you and find the truth about Rosalind’s death.
I heartily recommend it and would like to thank Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour and sending me a copy, how cute does it look in today’s #OnTheShelfie?
If you fancy reading it yourself – and I really think you should then you can buy yourself a copy here
Can’t wait to see what Gemma investigates next and will be sure to keep an eye on Sarah Bailey as we all enjoyed reading it a great deal.
Writer On The Shelf
Sarah’s first novel, The Dark Lake, was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin in May 2017 and in the USA and Canada in October.
Sarah lives in Melbourne, Australia and has two young sons.
She has fifteen years experience in the advertising industry and is currently a director at creative projects company Mr Smith.
Sarah’s second book, Into The Night, featuring Detective Gemma Woodstock, will be published in 2018.
If you liked the sound of The Dark Lake, you might enjoy hearing what these fab fellow bloggers had to say about it…