Well-paced debut thriller
There’s nothing like a small Australian town in high summer to create a taut setting for murder.
The Dark Lake of the title is Sonny Lake, a tranquil spot for walkers and joggers with a playground at one end for families. When the body of a young woman is found in the water, shockwaves ripple through the small community of Smithson, where everybody knows everybody. Certainly everyone knew the victim, Rosalind Ryan, the unusually beautiful young drama teacher at the high school.
Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock knew Rosalind — they were in the same year at school.
But Gemma is wary of telling her boss, Jonesy, about what she remembers of Rosalind or she could be dropped from the case.
It is fortunate Gemma’s so good at her job that Jonesy doesn’t ask too many questions.
Rosalind is warmly remembered for her gifted teaching, and her brilliant reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet, with the opening night taking place the night of her death. Although clues point to a sex crime, suggestions that Rosalind had plenty of secrets as well as a gift for manipulating people throw more motives into the mix.
The story is told largely from Gemma’s point of view and she’s a bit of a mess. She’s not in love with her boyfriend, Scott, the father of her child, but is involved in an affair with her partner, Felix. Like so many fictional detectives, she drinks too much, forgets to eat and doesn’t get a lot of sleep. Meanwhile the secret resurrected by the death of Rosalind continues to plague her.
The Dark Lake isa debut novel and the first in a promising new series featuring Gemma Woodstock. It is a wellpaced thriller that crackles with atmosphere. While the case hums along with plenty of interesting leads, snapshots of the past add insight into Gemma’s troubled teen years. She’s a character full of flaws, but there’s plenty of scope to develop into a really interesting detective.
The Dark Lake isa welcome addition and will appeal to anyone who enjoyed Jane Harper’s The Dry or Paula Hawkin’s The Girl on the Train.
■ For more visit www.hastingslibraries.co.nz or phone 871 5000. Publishers Book Expo Wednesday, November 14, Havelock North Library. Tickets available now.
The Dark Lake by Sarah Baile