Rating: 4 stars
The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey is a character driven crime thriller novel set in a rural Australian town.
When the body of Rosalind Ryan, a beautiful young teacher at the local high school, is discovered in the local lake, it’s ruled as a homicide.
Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock pushes to be one of the lead detectives on the case, as she has a strong connection to Rosalind. They used to be classmates in high school years ago.
Rosalind was beautiful, popular and enigmatic in high school, and that’s how she remains today.
Set in the small country town of Smithson, NSW, during one summer. The thick harsh summer heat and Rosalind’s death has everyone on edge, making their secrets more vulnerable to being discovered.
As Gemma digs deeper into Rosalind’s past, she finds that she has to resurface secrets from her own past. She has a hard time trying to keep her work and private life separate, but they slowly become more entwined, making her begin to unravel.
Everyone may have admired Rosalind, but did anyone ever really know her?
The novel is told mostly in Gemma’s first person point of view, incorporating third person point of view of other characters.
I liked how the novel was character driven, and how all of the characters were well developed.
I liked Gemma, and her obsession with the case. She was a complex character who was flawed and realistic. The novel alluded to a stronger connection between Gemma and Rosalind, so I would have liked to have seen that.
The characters were all equally suspicious. Any one of them could have been the murderer. Near the second half of the novel, I thought I had figured out who murdered Rosalind, but I liked how Bailey managed to surprise me right at the end.
I thought the multiple points of view, mixed in with the flashbacks, worked well and were easy to follow.
I really liked the depiction of the hot Australian summer. I thought it was relatable and well written. Bailey is a superb writer for a debut novelist.
Recommended for anyone who’s 16 years and older, and wants to read a character driven crime thriller.