A beautiful young teacher has been murdered, her body found in the lake, strewn with red roses. Local policewoman Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock pushes to be assigned to the case, concealing the fact that she knew the murdered woman in high school years before.
But that's not all Gemma's trying to hide. As the investigation digs deeper into the victim's past, other secrets threaten to come to light, secrets that were supposed to remain buried. The lake holds the key to solving the murder, but it also has the power to drag Gemma down into its dark depths...
I'd like to thank Anne Cater from Random Things Through my Letterbox for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and Kate at Atlantic Books for my ecopy of The Dark Lake to review.
Sarah Bailey's debut novel The Dark Lake opens with the discovery of a body in a lake which is soon identified as Rosalind Ryan, a popular teacher at the local high school. The news comes as a shock to the whole town of Smithson especially detective Gemma Woodstock who went to school with the victim.
Along with her partner Felix McKinnon, Gemma needs to investigate the life of Rosalind to get the full picture as to how she lived her life. What had prompted her to return to the small town of Smithson from the big city? And who, and why would anyone, want to murder Rosalind? Throughout the course of their investigations, it would appear that everyone seemed to have loved Rosalind but clearly not everyone did or she wouldn't be dead.
The small town setting where everyone seems to know everyone else's business, or so they think, was perfect for this dark, haunting crime drama. I personally haven't read many crime novels set in Australia but I much prefer reading about small town settings as it feels more intimate than trying to solve a crime in a bigger town or city where one person can literally get lost amongst the thousands who live there.
Gemma was a very complex, and somewhat unlikeable character, even if she was good at her job. There were so many times I wanted to shake her and ask 'what are you doing?!' Despite having a loving partner and baby at home, she didn't seem happy with her lot and wanted more but at what cost personally and professionally. And even though she was probably a little too close to the case, having known Rosalind as a teenager, she was determined to lead the investigation even if it puts her into potential danger herself.
The Dark Lake is not a fast-paced, action packed, story by any means. Instead the course of the investigation is meticulously told over the course of the days following the discovery of the body trying to get the answers to the many questions that the investigation raises. My only niggle with the flow of the story was the odd recollections here and there to events of the past, I know they were needed for backstory but it just made it a little disjointed reading for me personally.
Overall I did enjoy The Dark Lake, and discovering a new author in Sarah Bailey, so I'll look forward with interest as to what she has in store for us next. Another Gemma Woodstock story or something else?