The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

‘It’s amazing what you can keep buried when you want to.’

A beautiful young woman’s body, strewn with red roses, is found floating in the lake near a small rural town.  Her identity is quickly stablished: she’s a teacher at the local high school, named Rosalind (Rose) Ryan.  Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock was at high school with Rose, but despite this connection she wants to investigate the case. Rose has been murdered, but by whom and why?  Why did Rose quit her teaching job in the city to return to teach at Smithson High School?  Why was the body strewn with red roses: many people seemed to admire Rose, but no-one seems to have really known her.

‘Beautiful things are hard to keep alive.’

Gemma Woodstock is an interesting, flawed character with her own secrets.  Some of those secrets become apparent early in the novel, and while I found aspects of Gemma irritating, I liked her.  Here’s a flawed woman, juggling family and work (not always successfully) trying to figure out who killed Rose.  The deeper she digs, the more people she finds with a possible motive for murder.  The deeper she digs, the closer she comes to revealing some of her own secrets that she would rather keep hidden.

‘Keep trying to figure out who killed perfect, precious Rose Ryan.’

I thought I had it worked out part way through the book, but I was wrong.  Once all the pieces fell into place (no spoilers) it makes its own sense.  A satisfying read, which left me wondering what the future might hold for Gemma Woodstock.  This is Ms Bailey’s debut novel, and I’ll certainly be hoping to see more from her in the future.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith