Strong char­ac­ters dom­i­nate crime story


SOME high school mem­o­ries re­main into adult­hood, re­turn­ing to haunt you about the per­son you used to be – a sit­u­a­tion that De­tec­tive Sergeant Gemma Wood­stock is un­com­fort­ably re­minded of in this en­thralling book. Sarah Bai­ley’s de­but de­liv­ers a mul­ti­lay­ered po­lice pro­ce­dural with strong char­ac­ters whose emo­tions both as­sist and in­ter­fere with their work. The book also bal­ances an in­tri­cate story of a com­mu­nity with an in­ti­mate look at de­tec­tives.

Gemma in­ves­ti­gates the mur­der of Ros­alind “Rose” Ryan, found in the lake be­hind the pri­vate school the two had at­tended and where Rose taught. In high school, Gemma was a bit ob­sessed with Rose, a pop­u­lar but pri­vate teenager from one of the wealth­ier fam­i­lies in Smith­son, Aus­tralia. The case also makes Gemma re­mem­ber her high school boyfriend, Ja­cob Ma­son, who left her for Rose, and the se­crets that swirled around his sui­cide.

Gemma and her po­lice part­ner, De­tec­tive Sergeant Felix McKin­non, delve into Rose’s frac­tured fam­ily, her seem­ingly ador­ing stu­dents and her aloof per­son­al­ity. Gemma’s in­sight as a de­tec­tive di­rectly con­flicts with her messy per­sonal life. She lives with her part­ner, Scott, and their 2-and-ahalf-year-old son, Ben. She wants to be a good mother and com­pan­ion, but en­nui roils off her. Her af­fair with Felix con­sumes her, although she knows it could ruin their ca­reers as well as her life with Scott. Her some­times reck­less be­hav­iour also puts Felix’s mar­riage at risk and could turn his three daugh­ters against him. Gemma’s flaws make her im­mensely hu­man. -

THE DARK LAKE Sarah Bai­ley (R338) Grand Cen­tral Pub­lish­ing

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