The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

The Dark Lake

When the body of a young and popular teacher turns up in the waters of Sonny Lake, the first detective called to the scene is Sergeant Gemma Woodstock, a local who not only knows the area but also the victim – Rosalind Ryan, at least in passing (they went to school together).

The connection, Gem insists, is slight.  The relationship between the two women non-existent.  So she stays on the case, along with her partner Felix. Unfortunately, Gem isn’t quite telling the truth; she has a history with Rosalind (Rose), holding a secret that might put the case in jeopardy.

And it isn’t her only secret.  In fact, Gem has so many it’s hard to keep up.  She is a complicated woman and a messy one, drinking too much and lying to her friends and family rather than face the truth – her life is falling apart.  I have to say, it made her hard to like, or any of the other characters for that matter.

I should have had sympathy for the dead teacher, but as her life was unpicked, I found I didn’t have much.  I maybe should have liked Felix (he was British after all), but he was quite the ass, I have to say.  And Gem’s partner Scott, who was a pretty gentle soul, just wasn’t filled in enough for me to take to him.  It’s a bit of a shame, as the plot itself was pretty good.

It was one of those that just threw everything at you.  There was so much going on, with the current murder of Rose to be investigated, Gem’s personal life falling apart, and a secret from her past threatening to come crashing down at any moment (told in flashbacks to her last year in school); I struggled to keep up at times, I have to admit, but I really enjoyed the ride.

It meant a mixed bag for me with this book but one that, on reflection (I finished it a couple of weeks ago), was generally a positive one.  The pace was fast, the writing good, and the ending not one I saw coming.  Yes, I’d have liked to like at least one character, but I can forgive that because everything else was so good.  Definitely an enjoyable read!

Emma x


About the book…

Rose was lit by the sun, her beautiful face giving nothing away. Even back then, she was a mystery that I wanted to solve.

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.

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Corvus
Publication date: 1st March, 2018 (first published Mary, 2017)
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller, Police Procedural
Number of pages: 440
Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.


  1. What an excellent review, Emma – you are a lovely person! I HAVE to like or at least bond with a character, or I cannot see the point of trudging through the book. So this one wouldn’t work for me, but I am glad you at least enjoyed the writing.


  2. Glad you enjoyed it overall, but gosh, I’m so tired of detectives with drink problems. I avoid drunks in real life, so why would I want to spend so much time with them in fiction??


    • I know the feeling. That and old grumpy detectives who always get the gorgeous young detective to fall for them.


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