One of the characters in this clever debut novel remarks that “this town is full of secrets.” And it surely is. The town is an imaginary Australian one, with a deep lake as its foal point, indeed the lake itself is almost a character too.
When a young drama teacher, Rosalind Ryan, is found, early one morning, in the lake, her dead body is strewn with red roses. A tribute to her beauty, perhaps? An apology from the murderer? Flowers brought from the School where Rosalind’s modern take on Romeo and Juliet had its opening night that previous evening? Or simply a random crime? When Detective Gemma Woodstock is called in to investigate the death, she could have a conflict of interest. She and Rose had been in the same class at the High School, and could have been friends, so her response to this untimely death could be an emotional one. Well, so it proved to be, but not for the reasons the intrigued reader might suspect.
There are many people in these almost 450 pages, so the reader needs to keep tabs on them all, for they finally slot neatly into place, allowing Gemma to solve the mystery, at last.
There are a couple of interesting sub-plots too, not the least of which is concerned with Gemma’s love life, told in some detail.
She is very human, perhaps flawed, but never when it comes to her work, about which she is passionate.
Sarah Bailey might consider a second novel, featuring Gemma she could be on to a winner, as The Dark Lake has already been sold for a large figure to the United States.
THE DARK LAKE by SARAH BAILEY PUBLISHED by ALLEN & UNWIN for a recommended $32.99