The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey – 440 pages
The lead homicide investigator in a rural town, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is deeply unnerved when a high school classmate is found strangled, her body floating in a lake. And not just any classmate, but Rosalind Ryan, whose beauty and inscrutability exerted a magnetic pull on Smithson High School, first during Rosalind’s student years and then again when she returned to teach drama. As much as Rosalind’s life was a mystery to Gemma when they were students together, her death presents even more of a puzzle. What made Rosalind quit her teaching job in Sydney and return to her hometown? Why did she live in a small, run-down apartment when her father was one of the town’s richest men? And despite her many admirers, did anyone in the town truly know her? Rosalind’s enigmas frustrate and obsess Gemma, who has her own dangerous secrets—an affair with her colleague and past tragedies that may not stay in the past.
My Review: 3.5 stars
The Dark Lake was a thrilling mystery set in New South Wales, Australia. I enjoyed the small town feel where everyone knows everyone in this dark story. This book took me a little time to get into, but I’m glad that I kept reading.
The main character, Gemma, is extremely unlikeable. She’s not a bad person per se, although she is having an affair with her partner and neglects spending time with her son, but she’s not someone you’re cheering for either. She is a good detective yet is stretched too thin to fully deal with this her work and private life as well as she should be.
What I really enjoyed about this book was that it wasn’t just a typical police procedural that was focused on who killed Rosalind Ryan. Although that was what the story focused on, everyone in the town was suddenly put under a microscope, which unleashed many layers of secrets. We spend the majority of the book not only trying to figure out who killed Rosalind, but also, who Rosalind was. What was her connection to Gemma? As more skeletons in the closet became exposed, the story was becoming more suspenseful.
The ending of this book was a bit cliché and slightly unbelievable. It felt as if put in there just to tie things up in a cohesive manner. It didn’t change my likability of the story, just was a minor glitch in it.
Overall, I really enjoyed this debut novel. It contained all the typical things you want from a thriller; with enough originality to give it a fresh take.