12.46: Thirteen-year-old Claire Bingley stands alone at a bus stop
12.47: Ted Conkaffey parks his car beside her
12.52: The girl is missing . . .
Six minutes – that’s all it took to ruin Detective Ted Conkaffey’s life. Accused but not convicted of Claire’s abduction, he escapes north, to the steamy, croc-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake.
Amanda Pharrell knows what it’s like to be public enemy number one. Maybe it’s her murderous past that makes her so good as a private investigator, tracking lost souls in the wilderness. Her latest target, missing author Jake Scully, has a life more shrouded in secrets than her own – so she enlists help from the one person in town more hated than she is: Ted Conkaffey.
But the residents of Crimson Lake are watching the pair’s every move. And for Ted, a man already at breaking point, this town is offering no place to hide . . .
Review by Sarah McDuling
Candice Fox is my hero! Award-winning Australian crime writer of the Archer & Bennett series, she also co-wrote Never, Never with James Patterson, which was definitely one of my favourite crime reads of 2016.
When I first heard about Crimson Lake, I thought it sounded amazing, and suspected that I would love it. And I was right! I have devoured everything Candice Fox has ever written, but even burdened by my incredibly high expectations, Crimson Lake still managed to blow me away.
This book is a gripping thriller containing three mysteries woven together in an expertly crafted and perfectly paced plot which held me utterly captivated from the first page. The characters are layered and compelling, the story is dark and disturbing, the atmosphere is vivid and highly evocative - all of which I have come to expect from this talented author.
Set in a small town in north Queensland, this is the story of former policemen Ted Conkaffey, who was arrested but never actually convicted of the brutal kidnapping and rape of 13-year-old Claire Bingley. Ted maintains his innocence and was released due to lack of evidence, however, the world has judged him guilty.
Meanwhile, Amanda Pharrell is the local Private Investigator... and also a convicted killer. Amanda has never claimed to be innocent of committing murder, and yet nor has she ever provided a motive for the killing. When Amanda hires Ted to help her investigate the presumed death of a famous author, it doesn't take long for things to get very complicated. Ted is prickly and defensive. Amanda is eccentric and inappropriate. Both of them are haunted by their painful pasts.
Will Ted ever prove his innocence and clear his name? Is Amanda really a killer? Was popular author, Jake Scully, actually eaten by a crocodile? These are just a few of the questions posed in Crimson Lake, and believe me when I say you will be desperate for the answers.
This book is so totally riveting, I swear my eyeballs felt bruised by the time I finished reading. (I also think I may have forgotten how to blink at some point in the middle.) I really hope Candice Fox plans to write more books about Ted and Amanda. I'm just not ready to say goodbye to these characters yet!
About the Author
Hades, Candice Fox's first novel, won the Ned Kelly Award for best debut in 2014 from the Australian Crime Writers Association. The sequel, Eden, won the Ned Kelly Award for best crime novel in 2015, making Candice only the second author to win these accolades back-to-back. Also, in the 2015 Davitt Awards, Hades was Highly Commended in the debut category. Her third novel, Fall, was recently published to critical acclaim.
In 2015 Candice began collaborating with James Patterson. Their first novel together, Never Never, set in the vast Australian outback, was released in August 2016. They have also co-written a prequel novella, Black & Blue, as part of the James Patterson BookShots series. They are currently at work on the sequel.
Candice is the middle child of a large, eccentric family from Sydney’s western suburbs composed of half-, adopted and pseudo siblings. The daughter of a parole officer and an enthusiastic foster-carer, Candice spent her childhood listening around corners to tales of violence, madness and evil as her father relayed his work stories to her mother and older brothers.
Bankstown born and bred, she failed to conform to military life in a brief stint as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy at age eighteen. At twenty, she turned her hand to academia, and taught high school through two undergraduate and two postgraduate degrees. She lives in Sydney.