There’s a trend lately in certain kinds of suspense novels toward the most convoluted plot twists in the history of the world. Anything for the “gotcha” moment at the end. But in this voracious chase for slippery surprise, all believability is lost. I seriously try, but my disbelief only suspends so far.
The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey isn’t one of these books. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid mystery, with clues and curves enough, but none so ridiculous that you’re left feeling betrayed. It has a similar aura to the luminous novels of Tana French.
This is a story of the looming past and our inability to escape it; secrets long hidden that come back to us in the most unexpected ways. Are all of us merely in a holding pattern, trying to escape or relive the horrors and glories of our youths?
Gemma Woodstock is the lead homicide detective in a rural Australian town. She is shaken by the gruesome murder of her former high school classmate, Rosalind Ryan, found floating in the lake, her body strewn with roses.
Gemma must work through the complicated relationship she had with a woman she barely knew- a woman who it seems hardly anyone really knew- while also struggling with the memories of her own lost teenage sweetheart (who died when both Gemma and Rosalind were in school). She seems never to have healed from that lost love, as evidenced by the impossible relationship triangle she’s fashioned for herself as an adult- having a child with one man she refuses to marry while also having an affair with her married partner, all while facing the scrutiny of a male-ruled police department.
Digging into Rosalind’s past means taking a shovel to her own as well. Memories and old wounds swirl through time to greet her, blinding her detective instincts to the very real danger she may herself be facing.
The secrets that intertwine Gemma and Rosalind are ultimately heartbreaking. The cathartic ending will leave you wondering about the guilt we carry for things both done and undone, and for the ghosts who never leave us.
The Dark Lake will be available from Grand Central Publishing in October 2017.