The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey
When I think back to that summer something comes loose in my head. It's like a marble is bouncing around in there, like my brain is a pinball machine. I try not to let it roll around for too long. If I do, I end up going funny behind the eyes and in my throat and I can't do normal things like order coffee or tie Ben's shoelaces. I know I should try to forget. Move on. It's what I would tell someone else in my situation to do. Probably I should move away, leave Smithson, but starting over has never been a strength of mine. I have trouble letting go.
During the day it's not so bad. I'll be in the middle of doing something and then my mind wanders to her and the little ball ricochets through my head and I stop talking in the middle of a sentence, or I forget to press the accelerator when the lights go green. Still, I can usually shake it away and keep going with whatever I was doing without anyone noticing.
It's amazing what you can keep buried when you want to.
The Dark Lake is the debut novel for writer Sarah Bailey. I listened to it on audio narrated by Kate Hosking. She did a good job with the story. DS Gemma Woodstock is a young detective attached to the police in her Australian hometown of Smithson. She has a young son, Ben, and figuring out how to be both a cop and a mother is tough. Ben's father, Scott, is a good parent, but he and Gemma are not an ideal couple. Rosalind Ryan, someone Gemma knew from her teenage years, is found dead in the lake. It's the job of Gemma and her partner, Felix, to investigate the crime. And it is way complicated with lots of family secrets and misunderstandings.
I liked this one, though it was a bit depressing. Well, it's about murder, you might say, how could it not be depressing? Gemma is having a tough time, though she does seem to be a decent cop. I didn't like the fact that she is having an affair with her married partner. Cheating is never a plus for a character in my reading. However, I managed to endure it. The story was intriguing with the Australian setting during the Christmas season. The fact that it was hot and sticky and the characters kept sweating was a little disconcerting - all this while Christmas carols played. Ha! I did think that Gemma improved as a character and person through the story and I'm glad to see that the author will feature her in the next book (out in the US in December), Into the Night. I'll watch for that one and consider that any bumps and rough places in this book were due to a first-time author.
The lead homicide investigator in a rural town, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is deeply unnerved when a high school classmate is found strangled, her body floating in a lake. And not just any classmate, but Rosalind Ryan, whose beauty and inscrutability exerted a magnetic pull on Smithson High School, first during Rosalind's student years and then again when she returned to teach drama.
As much as Rosalind's life was a mystery to Gemma when they were students together, her death presents even more of a puzzle. What made Rosalind quit her teaching job in Sydney and return to her hometown? Why did she live in a small, run-down apartment when her father was one of the town's richest men? And despite her many admirers, did anyone in the town truly know her?
Rosalind's enigmas frustrate and obsess Gemma, who has her own dangerous secrets--an affair with her colleague and past tragedies that may not stay in the past.