The Dark Lake by Sarah BaileyThe Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

The Dark Lake

bySarah Bailey

Hardcover | October 3, 2017

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Rosalind's secrets didn't die with her.

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.
Sarah Bailey was born in Melbourne, Australia, where she has lived all her life and currently resides with her two young sons. She has a degree in journalism and has a career in advertising. She is currently a partner at creative agency, Mr Smith.The Dark Lakeis her first novel.
Title:The Dark LakeFormat:HardcoverDimensions:400 pages, 9.5 × 6.38 × 1.38 inPublished:October 3, 2017Publisher:Grand Central PublishingLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:153875990X

ISBN - 13:9781538759905

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Murder mystery set during an Australian heat wave in a small-town We meet Gemma Woodstock when she is in a bad place, personally. She lives with Scott, the father of her three-year-old son, yet she does not love him. She has just suffered a miscarriage of a baby conceived with her married lover and police partner, Felix McKinnon. And... she has never recovered from the suicide death of her first love, Jacob. "I felt the deep guilt of someone who wished for a different life." Now, an old schoolmate/nemesis of Emma's is found dead in the lake backing on the high school. A jogger found the body lying near the shore - covered in long-stem red roses. The woman, Rosalind Ryan, was a well-liked teacher at the high school. She was, and had always been stunningly beautiful... "I knew how far in I was again, how comprehensively her death could undo me." Emma and Felix are tasked with the homicide investigation. Emma makes light of her previous associations with the dead woman so that her boss will allow her to work on the murder inquiry. Secrets. Secrets. Secrets. Who would have wanted to murder Rosalind Ryan? Was it someone at the school - a teacher, a student? Could Jacob's younger brother be in some way involved? Could it have been one of Rosalind's wealthy family members? As Emma and Felix investigate, Emma becomes more and more morose. She is revisiting her past. A past when she, Rosalind, and Jacob were part of a love triangle. Emma receives a bouquet of red roses at her home. The card reads "Beautiful things are hard to keep alive". Then, the case becomes even more personal when her tiny son is kidnapped... MY THOUGHTS The setting of this novel played a huge part in the story. The small town of Smithson, New South Wales, in December. The lead up to Christmas - and they are suffering an oppressive heat spell. Smithson is a factory town. The local cannery employs most of the residents. Emma Woodstock is a very interesting, very flawed character. She lost her mother suddenly at the age of thirteen. Then, when she was only seventeen, her boyfriend Jacob commit suicide. These were both traumas that have affected her every waking moment. I usually like damaged characters, yet, despite my wanting to care for her more, I found that something about Emma was 'off'. I can't quite put my finger on why I feel this way. The writing was spectacular and the book did not read like the debut novel it is. The characters were written with empathy and the imagery was such that the heat was palpable. The murder mystery was well executed, with a resolution that made sense. In summation, I do recommend this novel. I feel that it will be a favourite of many. There was just something that for me personally, made it a 4-star read.
Date published: 2019-01-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not a fan! The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey is the first book in A Gemma Woodstock Mystery series. Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock lives and works in Smithson, Australia. Gemma receives a call regarding the strangulation death of Rosalind Ryan. She was found by a jogger floating in Sonny Lake with red roses surrounding her body. Gemma went to school with Rosalind and were once friends (as well as rivals). Rosalind had recently returned to town to teach drama at Smithson Secondary College. Rosalind was a woman who spoke her mind and recently put on an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet (she was quite insistent about it). Gemma starts to dig into Rosalind’s life. Despite her popularity, Rosalind was something of an enigma. Why had Rosalind quit her job in Sydney and returned to Smithson? Gemma is determined to track down the killer despite the threats to her own life and that of her son’s. Will Gemma find the killer, or will she end up the next victim? The Dark Lake had an extremely dislikeable main character. You know you do not like a character when you keep hoping the killer will do her in. Gemma’s personal life was a mess and it spilled over into her work. She is living with one man (father of her son) while having an affair with another man. There are numerous sex scenes and it seems to be all Gemma can think about (it was obsessive). Gemma came across as unstable. I do want to mention that the book does contain foul language (a pet peeve of mine). I found there to be a lack of action and suspense. The mystery comes across as complex, but the solution is obvious. The book seemed long and drawn out (lacking in suspense and action). The same details kept being repeated. The focus of The Dark Lake was on Gemma and her messed up life instead of Rosalind’s murder. The book had potential. It just needed a major rewrite and severe editing.
Date published: 2017-12-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Debut novel 3.5 The Dark Lake is Australian author Sarah Bailey's debut novel. DS Gemma Woodstock is the lead investigator in a rural Aussie town. When a woman is found dead in a local lake, Gemma recognizes her from their high school days. But she downplays this connection. Why? "It's amazing what you can keep buried when you want to." The dead woman is an enigma - her students adored her and her colleagues admired her. But as the investigation continues, Gemma discovers that no one really 'knows' Rosalind, including her own family. Bailey sets up the reader with not one, but two mysteries - who killed Rosanind and what event occurred in Gemma's past that she is so determined to keep hidden. Gemma was an interesting lead character. She's smart and driven to find answers. But. She's also playing a dangerous game with her personal life. I didn't agree with the choices she was making and the actions she took to pursue that choice. I can't say that I liked her partner Felix either. I was intrigued by Rosalind. We only get to 'know' her from other's memories and observations though. I would have like a peek into her life from her own point of view. Bailey's use of the 'then and now' technique gives the reader small glimpses into Gemma's past and then flips back to the present. The book is equally divided into a search for the killer and a character driven exploration of Gemma and her life. Bailey gives us lots of options and characters to choose from for the closing 'whodunit' and the final answer was clever. I did find the reveal of Gemma's secret to be a bit of a letdown and the resolution she finds in her personal life in the final pages to be somewhat cliched. The book weighs in at 400+ pages. I feel this could have been tightened up a bit, as Gemma's dilemma became somewhat repetitive after awhile and I found my interest slipping. I think this may be the first in a series. If so, I would be curious to see where Bailey next takes her character. I think The Dark Lake is a solid debut, but the publisher's comparisons to Tana French and Paula Hawkins may be a bit ambitious at this stage of Bailey's career.
Date published: 2017-10-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Menacing, Unsettling, and Intense! In this debut novel, The Dark Lake, Bailey transports us to Smithson, Australia a small town where gossip and deception run rampant, emotions run high, and solving the murder of the beloved local high school teacher may unearth more skeletons in the closet than anyone could have imagined. The prose is dark and eerie. The characters, including the scarred Det. Sgt. Gemma Woodstock, are flawed, complicated, and self-involved. And the plot, using a past/present, back-and-forth style is a suspenseful thrill ride filled with familial drama, jealousy, obsession, grief, revenge, infidelity, secrets, and murder. The Dark Lake is truly a well-written, gritty, absorbing story that highlights that rage and resentment fostered over many years can have devastating consequences.
Date published: 2017-10-13

Editorial Reviews

"The Dark Lake is a thrilling psychological police procedural as well as a leap into the mind of a woman engulfed with guilt."-New York Journal of Books