- Series: Gemma Woodstock (Book 1)
- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (July 17, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1538759926
- ISBN-13: 978-1538759929
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 100 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Dark Lake (Gemma Woodstock) Paperback – July 17, 2018
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"Enthralling... Sarah Bailey's debut delivers a multilayered police procedural with strong characters whose emotions both assist and interfere with their work. The Dark Lake also balances an intricate story of a community with an intimate look at police detectives... Bailey uses solid character development and superior storytelling, rather than violence, to fuel The Dark Lake, and she is off to an excellent start in this launch of a series."―Oline Cogdill, Associated Press
"THE DARK LAKE hooked me from page one! Sarah Bailey combines the very best elements in this stunning debut thriller--a troubled detective still trying to find her way as a female investigator, a small town haunted by secrets both past and present, and a beautiful victim whose unsettling allure appears to be her biggest asset and largest downfall. With clever twists and all-too-human characters, this book will keep you racing toward the end."―Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Right Behind You and Find Her
"THE DARK LAKE is a stunning debut that gripped me from page one and never eased up. Dark, dark, dark--but infused with insight, pathos, a great sense of place, and razor-sharp writing. It's going to be big and Sarah Bailey needs to clear a shelf for awards."―C. J. Box, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Vicious Circle and Open Season
"Police work comes easily to Det. Sgt. Gemma Woodstock, the narrator of Australian author Bailey's stellar first novel...Bailey interweaves her sympathetic protagonist's past and present with uncommon assurance...a page-turner that's both tense and thought provoking."―Publishers Weekly
"The Dark Lake is a mesmerizing thriller full of long buried secrets that sucked me right in and kept me up late turning pages. Gemma Woodstock is a richly flawed and completely authentic character - I loved going on this journey with her and the way the truth of her past was revealed in bits and pieces as we went along. Sarah Bailey has crafted an exquisite debut - I can't wait to see what she does next!"―Jennifer McMahon, New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People
"I read THE DARK LAKE in one sitting, it's that good. A crime thriller that seizes you from the first page and slowly draws you into a web of deception and long buried secrets. Beautifully written, compulsively readable, and highly recommended."―Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God and co-author of the bestselling Pendergast series
"A compelling debut."―Booklist
"I raced through this deliciously complicated, mesmerizing debut at warp speed. Sarah Bailey's THE DARK LAKE is sure to keep readers awake far too late into the night."―Karen Dionne, author The Marsh King's Daughter
"There are echoes of Tana French in the novel... A satisfying mystery novel with a relatable heroine."―Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Sarah Bailey was born in Melbourne, Australia, where she has lived all her life and currently resides with her two young sons. She has a degree in journalism and has a career in advertising. She is currently a partner at creative agency, Mr Smith. The Dark Lake is her first novel.
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Smithson is a town of 30,000 in the Australian outback, "a good four-hour drive from Sydney." There, a 28-year-old high school teacher named Rosalind (Rose) Ryan has been found murdered and possibly raped as well. She was discovered floating in Smithson Lake, red roses strewn across her body. An old school classmate of hers, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock has been assigned to the investigation along with her partner and secret lover, Detective Sergeant Felix McKinnon. Gemma's 10-year-old connections to Rose run deep. She manages to stay on the case only by downplaying them. Her boss is willing to allow Gemma to head the investigation because he regards her as his best detective—his protege, in a way.
Rose is an enigmatic figure, a woman of great beauty and hidden desires. She is the daughter of the town's richest man, a developer, and sister to three older brothers. Unlike her brothers, Rose avoids the family's palatial home. She lives alone in a small cottage in a run-down neighborhood. Rumors swirl about Rose—that she was having an affair with the high school principal, that she was sleeping with one of her students, that something terrible happened to her on a previous teaching job in Sydney.
Men find Gemma attractive, too, but she compares herself unfavorably to Rose. And a minor character observes that "Gemma looks like a bargain basement mannequin." She has a boyish figure, and she's careless about what she wears.
Guilt over some unspecified sin in her teen years has driven Gemma to join the police. "'I didn't really have another choice,' she explains to Felix. 'I needed so badly to work in a world that made binary sense of things. A place where there was good and bad, right and wrong, and where I was in charge of making sure there was more good than bad.'"
The Dark Lake unfolds in chapters that alternate between the present time with Gemma and Rose's final year at Smithson High School ten years earlier. At first, the connections between the two lines of the plot appear to be incidental. Gradually, as Gemma digs more deeply into her memory, we find the fateful connections that lead to an explosive ending.
I recently reviewed another strong murder mystery from Australia, The Dry by Jane Harper.
It's amazing that I did find The Dark Lake so compelling because I didn't like any of the characters. The character I disliked the most was Gemma herself. I had to keep reminding myself that she was only twenty-eight and emotionally still a child. There are some traumas that occur during childhood that make children grow up quickly. There are others that stunt the child's emotional growth, and Gemma is one of these people. I deduced why she was behaving the way she was, but all her angst was too much for me. To Gemma, her teenage years were absolute perfection and she does everything she possibly can to ensure that she can't have perfection now. Oh. So. Tiresome. (And, oh, if only I could've dredged up some sympathy for her.)
The Dark Lake is a very well-written story with a smooth, fast pace and a mystery that is worth solving. However, if you're the type of reader who must have at least one character you can like and trust, this may not be the book for you.