There were a few minutes when I was alone with her in the autopsy room. I felt wild. Absent. Before I could stop myself I was leaning close to her, telling her everything. The words draining out of me as she lay there. Her long damp hair hanging off the back of the steel table. Glassy eyes fixed blindly on the ceiling. She was still so beautiful, even in death.
Our secrets circled madly around the bright white room that morning. Rocking back and forth on my heels as I stood next to her, I knew how far in I was again, how comprehensively her death could undo me. I looked at Rosalind Ryan properly for the last time before breathing deeply, readying myself, letting her pull me back into her world, and I sank down, further and further, until I was completely, utterly under.
A beautiful young teacher has been murdered, her body found in the lake, strewn with red roses. Local policewoman Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock pushes to be assigned to the case, concealing the fact that she knew the murdered woman in high school years before.
But that's not all Gemma's trying to hide. As the investigation digs deeper into the victim's past, other secrets threaten to come to light, secrets that were supposed to remain buried. The lake holds the key to solving the murder, but it also has the power to drag Gemma down into its dark depths.
The Dark Lake is an addictive crime thriller, a mesmerising account of one woman's descent into deceit and madness, and a stunning debut that is already causing a stir around the world.
Review by Sarah McDuling
The Dark Lake is an absolutely stunning debut. This is such a beautifully written and utterly absorbing read, it's hard to believe that it's the author's first novel.
I love to get my hands on a good character-driven murder mystery - especially one with a complex protagonist and a plot that keeps me guessing. The Dark Lake delivers all of this and more. The characters and relationships portrayed are so intricate and messy and real. Plus, the atmosphere is so alive, the small town so vibrantly depicted, that it was a real struggle for me to put this book down.
When a beautiful woman is found dead, floating in a lake surrounded by roses, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is called to the scene. Stunned to discover the murder victim is a girl she went to school with - and with whom she shared a complicated history - Gemma is soon drawn into a dangerous web of lies and deceit.
Let me say right now, I love Gemma Woodstock. She is an incredibly strong woman haunted by ghosts of the past, and I was completely riveted by her story arc in The Dark Lake. She sets out to solve Rosalind's murder with dogged determination, while simultaneously falling deep into a pit of traumatic memory.
Perfect for fans of The Dry by Jane Harper.
About the Author
Sarah Bailey is a Melbourne based writer with a background in advertising and communications. She has two young children and currently works as a director of creative projects company Mr Smith. Over the past five years she has written a number of short stories and opinion pieces. The Dark Lake is her first novel.