The Dark Lake (Gemma Woodstock)

Author: Sarah Bailey

Type: Mystery/Thriller

Arc provided by NetGalley

Available at Amazon

Reviewed by 2shay

Rating: 3 Stars


Book Blurb……….

In a suspense thriller to rival Paula Hawkins and Tana French, a detective with secrets of her own hunts the killer of a woman who was the glamorous star of their high school

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. Brilliantly rendered, THE DARK LAKE has characters as compelling and mysteries as layered as the best thrillers from Gillian Flynn and Sophie Hannah.


Review by 2shay……….

I generally enjoy Australian authors, and this one is no exception, the writing is excellent. The story, on the other hand, is just a wee bit boring. Frankly, I didn’t like Gemma Woodstock. Oops. It’s not great when you take an almost instant dislike to the main character. It’s kind of a book killer, in fact. The book is redeemed somewhat by an interesting murder mystery. This could easily have become a 4 or 5 Star read had Gemma not flip-flop constantly in her thoughts. Does she love her live-in boyfriend, the father of her son, or hate him? Does she love or hate the partner she’s having an affair with? I’m sure she loves her son, but otherwise Gemma is a dilemma.

The biggest dilemma is her obsession with the murder victim, Rosalind. I wondered if the two had been more intimate than was told in the story. Gemma sounded like a jilted lover instead of a jealous one. The questions of who Gemma loves or hates goes on and on…and on. It was tedious. The truth is that, had the writing been just a little less, I might have never finished this book. The author knows how to string words and phrases together well enough that I thought it deserved to be read. It’s a long book. Editing out a hundred or so pages might have given the story more snap. Maybe. I will recommend this book with the qualification that you expect a fairly unreliable narrator. I don’t think Gemma can be trusted.

Use caution!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *