The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

The Dark Lake

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 Woods...

Title:The Dark Lake
Author:
Rating:
Number of Pages:440 pages

The Dark Lake Reviews

  • Liz Barnsley

    I really loved The Dark Lake – One of those brilliantly layered human drama’s that are within the psychological thriller genre. Sarah Bailey has created some memorable and relatable characters who will stay with me – especially the victim Rosalind who even after resolution will linger in your head and make you wonder.

    Gemma as a main protagonist is, to be fair, divisive. Haunted by memories of a past she can’t fix, living in a family situation she is not sure of and involved in a slightly obsessi

    I really loved The Dark Lake – One of those brilliantly layered human drama’s that are within the psychological thriller genre. Sarah Bailey has created some memorable and relatable characters who will stay with me – especially the victim Rosalind who even after resolution will linger in your head and make you wonder.

    Gemma as a main protagonist is, to be fair, divisive. Haunted by memories of a past she can’t fix, living in a family situation she is not sure of and involved in a slightly obsessive affair, when the beautiful Rosalind is found dead it throws up some difficult challenges for her that may be beyond her ability to cope with. I felt sorry for her and at random times annoyed with her – she is certainly prone to human error both in her working and personal life. This really worked for me I was with her all the way even on the occasions I wanted to slap her.

    The mystery element is clever, haunting and unpredictable – I loved the setting, descriptively speaking the author puts you right there and the surroundings added to the slightly melancholy feeling the narrative gave, that emotional core that I love to find in a book.

    Overall The Dark Lake is one of the good ones – addictive and intelligent with a heavy dose of drama and a twisted mystery that may well have you guessing right up until the end. Nothing not to love here.

    Yep. I’m a fan. Highly Recommended.

  • Bianca

    It took me longer than expected to finish this novel, mostly because I was busy.

    is a good debut novel. A beautiful, young teacher is found dead close to the local highschool. The main police investigator is a former school mate of hers - Gemma Woods - who's a detective at only twenty- eight years old.

    I liked that the main character was an imperfect police woman, with some dirty laundry in the closet. Unfortunately, despite her being the narrator, I never really warmed up to her.

    It took me longer than expected to finish this novel, mostly because I was busy.

    is a good debut novel. A beautiful, young teacher is found dead close to the local highschool. The main police investigator is a former school mate of hers - Gemma Woods - who's a detective at only twenty- eight years old.

    I liked that the main character was an imperfect police woman, with some dirty laundry in the closet. Unfortunately, despite her being the narrator, I never really warmed up to her. There was something off about the voice.

    Around the 26% mark, I had an inkling on who the killer was. I'm annoyed that I was right, although I didn't try to figure it out.

    So while I wasn't completely taken with this novel, it was still a decent read.

    3.5 stars

  • Theresa Alan

    The writing of this mystery/detective story is excellent, but in some ways I think it’s a better women’s fiction novel than a mystery.

    One of the lead detectives on the case is twenty-eight-year-old Gemma Woodstock. The victim went to her high school—the mysterious and beautiful Rosalind Ryan, who came back to the small town of Smithson to be a teacher. It’s not surprising that Gemma knew her—she knows most of the people in Smithson.

    Author Sarah Bailey did an excellent job creating a complex cha

    The writing of this mystery/detective story is excellent, but in some ways I think it’s a better women’s fiction novel than a mystery.

    One of the lead detectives on the case is twenty-eight-year-old Gemma Woodstock. The victim went to her high school—the mysterious and beautiful Rosalind Ryan, who came back to the small town of Smithson to be a teacher. It’s not surprising that Gemma knew her—she knows most of the people in Smithson.

    Author Sarah Bailey did an excellent job creating a complex character in Gem. Sometimes when I read a novel I get the idea that the author sat there and brainstormed, “How can I make my main character complex and flawed?” Gem’s layered history flows naturally over the course of the novel.

    The reason I think it stumbled a bit as a mystery/detective story was that some of the clues and findings were left just dangling and I was slightly disappointed in the ending—although right up until that point, the writing and story and characters were excellent.

    Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this novel.

    For more of my reviews, please visit:

  • Carol (Bookaria)

    An enigmatic, young high-school teacher is found dead in a lake in a small town in Australia. The case is assigned to Detective Gemma Woodstock who attended high school with the victim and who has an entangled past with her. This is where the story begins and slowly what happened is revealed.

    This

    is narrated -mainly- from the point of view of Gemma but also in smaller degrees from other characters. Gemma is a flawed human wit

    An enigmatic, young high-school teacher is found dead in a lake in a small town in Australia. The case is assigned to Detective Gemma Woodstock who attended high school with the victim and who has an entangled past with her. This is where the story begins and slowly what happened is revealed.

    This

    is narrated -mainly- from the point of view of Gemma but also in smaller degrees from other characters. Gemma is a flawed human with very good detective instincts and the timeline alternates between the present and flashbacks.

    The setting is well constructed,

    . For those of us who live well-above the equator, Christmas time is associated with cold winters and the author's descriptions kept reminding me of the different setting,

    The book has about 440 pages and at some points I felt it was longer than it should be, some paragraphs or chapters could have been left out, but this is my personal taste as I have a preference for shorter books.

    Overall

    and recommend it to all those who love a good mystery. The author is working on the sequel to this book and I'm looking forward to it.

  • Veronica ⭐️

    The Dark Lake is the debut novel of Australian author Sarah Bailey.

    Gemma Woodstock is a Detective Sergeant in the small rural town of Smithson. One of the local teachers, who also happens to be an old classmate of Gemma’s, is murdered and the ensuing investigation causes Gemma’s past to come crashing back to haunt her.

    I can’t say I liked Gemma and some may question her morals but I didn’t dislike her. I was certainly intrigued to find out what made her tick. She was complex, complicated, obsessi

    The Dark Lake is the debut novel of Australian author Sarah Bailey.

    Gemma Woodstock is a Detective Sergeant in the small rural town of Smithson. One of the local teachers, who also happens to be an old classmate of Gemma’s, is murdered and the ensuing investigation causes Gemma’s past to come crashing back to haunt her.

    I can’t say I liked Gemma and some may question her morals but I didn’t dislike her. I was certainly intrigued to find out what made her tick. She was complex, complicated, obsessive and slightly off kilter. It was very risky having such a flawed protagonist however Bailey has pulled it off with ease. Gemma is basically a good person but sometimes good people can do bad things and unintentionally hurt others.

    Bailey weaves the themes of Romeo and Juliet, star-crossed lovers, deception, lies and tragedy throughout the story.

    The story moved at a slow pace. There is a lot of moving back and forward in time with back-story filling in the gaps and building on the mystery.

    I was captivated by the prose. Bailey has a way with words that had me mesmerized. It is easy to lose yourself in the writing alone.

    I pretty much guessed the murderer but I couldn’t work out the motivation and it didn’t spoil the story or the tornado like ending.

    Another Gemma Woodstock novel is in the works and I’m looking forward to seeing how Gemma moves on with her life and to immerse myself in some more captivating writing.

  • Meredith

    When 28 year old English teacher Rosalind (Rose) is found dead, the people of the small Australian town of Smithson are in shock. Why would someone kill beautiful Rose? She is the girl who seemed to have it all: beauty, money, and success. Rose had the type of charisma where she was able to compel the women around her to want to be like her, and the men to fall in love with her. While some fell hard for Rose,

    When 28 year old English teacher Rosalind (Rose) is found dead, the people of the small Australian town of Smithson are in shock. Why would someone kill beautiful Rose? She is the girl who seemed to have it all: beauty, money, and success. Rose had the type of charisma where she was able to compel the women around her to want to be like her, and the men to fall in love with her. While some fell hard for Rose, others believed that she was a manipulative bitch, including the cop who is investigating her murder, Gemma Woodstock.

    While Gemma and Rose went to highschool together, they were never friends; it was more like Gemma was obsessed with Rose, which turns dangerous when Rose starts dating the love of Gemma’s life, Jacob. What makes things even more complex is that Jacob committed suicide. Gemma never fully recovered from his death, and the reader slowly learns how his connection to Rose drove Gemma over the edge.

    The mystery takes a backseat to Gemma’s personal life. A good chunk of the book focuses on Gemma’s affair with her partner, Felix, as well as her relationship with Jacob. Her current boyfriend, Scott, hasn’t a clue about Gemma’s secret life, even though Gemma is quite distant and treats him like garbage.

    I feel like too much was going on in

    --it was almost as if the book was fighting itself. 98% of the book was told from Gemma’s POV, but then there were brief chapters thrown in from various people in Smithson that didn’t seem to serve much of purpose. Gemma’s character was irksome, and I felt no sympathy for her. I didn't care for her, but my feelings about her didn’t influence my feelings about the book. I also thought that the ending was a let down, and Gemma finally realizing everything that she had in life but was too blind to see it was a bit of a cliche.

    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

  • Kathryn

    First-off,

    It fulfills all my criteria for a great book: exquisite writing, fully-developed characters, and a fleshed out, well-paced plot.

    So good that I can say with confidence that

    An author who will continue to produce increasingly masterful narratives for years to come.

    First-off,

    It fulfills all my criteria for a great book: exquisite writing, fully-developed characters, and a fleshed out, well-paced plot.

    So good that I can say with confidence that

    An author who will continue to produce increasingly masterful narratives for years to come.

    A police investigator in a small Australian town,

    is shocked when she’s

    But not just any classmate--it’s the charming, enigmatic

    Found strangled, battered then dumped in a nearby lake, flowers adorning her body, Rose is as mysterious in death as she was in life.

    Gemma, haunted by past demons, is immediately drawn to the case. As prior and present converge, Rose and Gemma’s lives become increasingly entwined.

    twisty, grim plot benefits greatly from Sarah Bailey’s

    skills. Ms. Bailey

    From the jogger who discovers Rose’s body to the owner of Gemma’s favorite breakfast spot, Sarah Bailey spares no expense. All are

    And by giving voice to what are essentially “extras,” more

    The writing itself--the prose--is a pleasure to consume.

    that the reader is immediately enveloped into Gemma’s world. And Gemma’s world is….complicated.

    A successful police detective in her late-20s,

    The puzzle-solving necessary to crack a case. Rosalind Ryan’s murder offers a particular challenge, but

    Rose’s memory drives Gemma to

    An affair with her married partner similarly complicates the situation. Gemma’s life rapidly unravels exposing ghosts better left buried.

    Rosalind Ryan is shrouded in enigma. Even in high school,

    Gifted with

    Rose became a popular drama teacher at Gemma’s former alma mater. After her much-lauded Romeo & Juliet-based school play, it appears Rose was lured to Sonny Lake where she met her horrific fate.

    In addition to being beautiful,

    yet Gemma knows this was no random attack.

    As the case intensifies, Gemma learns that

    The daughter of the richest man in town, Rose lives in a tiny, somewhat squalid cottage. Yet in the cottage, Gemma discovers thousands of dollars spent on pricey wine and beauty products. Rose is described as friendly and popular by all, but has no close friends. She’s exquisitely beautiful, though single. Rose had it all and still drank heavily and took antidepressants and anxiety medication.

    . And the

    Gemma’s varied issues and history not only directly connect to the central mystery, they enhance the overall storyline. And Rose remains a haunting figure throughout. No passage seems pointless or wasted.

    The only reason The Dark Lake didn’t merit five stars is I was able to accurately predict the “whodunnit” about halfway through the book. Nevertheless, the

    Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for a complimentary advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  • Paromjit

    This is a dark and atmospheric psychological crime debut from Australian Sarah Bailey, with DS Gemma Woodstock, set in the Aussie small town of Smithson, in New South Wales. It's a place where everyone knows everyone, yet is still full of secrets that come to be slowly revealed. The town is shocked when 28 year old Rosalind Ryan, a drama teacher, is discovered strangled in the lake, with roses surrounding her. Gemma is the main homicide detective, aided by her police partner, Felix. She is a mot

    This is a dark and atmospheric psychological crime debut from Australian Sarah Bailey, with DS Gemma Woodstock, set in the Aussie small town of Smithson, in New South Wales. It's a place where everyone knows everyone, yet is still full of secrets that come to be slowly revealed. The town is shocked when 28 year old Rosalind Ryan, a drama teacher, is discovered strangled in the lake, with roses surrounding her. Gemma is the main homicide detective, aided by her police partner, Felix. She is a mother, with a young son, Ben, and a partner who loves her, but whom she treats abominably. To be frank, her personal life is a car crash, she is having an affair with Felix, and obsesses over him interminably. In this character driven novel, the past comes back to haunt Gemma, and the past is where the answers to Rosalind's murder lie. This is a story of love, loss, grief, deception, secrets and tragedy, in a narrative that moves back and forth in time. The story is related primarily through Gemma's perspective.

    This is a case that threatens the unravelling of Gemma, for she knew Rosalind from school. Rosalind was the charismatic, beautiful and popular girl, whom everyone adored and loved, although some, like Gemma, harboured darker thoughts of her. Gemma is a conflicted woman, she loved Jacob as a teenager, but he was seeing Rosalind. Jacob goes on to commit suicide, and Gemma has never gotten over that loss. Gemma's obsession with Rosalind in the past spills over to the present. In the meantime, Rosalind is an elusive character to get a hold of and there are a number of odd factors. Whilst being liked, she has no close friends. Her father is one of the richest people in town, yet Rosalind resides in a squalid home, but has expensive tastes, liked to drink and was taking medication for depression and anxiety. There are a host of suspects with motives, and Gemma investigates as secrets begin to tumble out.

    This is a slow paced, multilayered read that is more about Gemma than Rosalind's murder. Admittedly, Gemma is a hard woman to like, irritating, deeply flawed and psychologically teetering all over the place with her haunted past. There are strong undertones of Romeo and Juliet to story, strengthened by the fact that Rosalind had been working on a reinterpretation of the play at school. It is a character driven tale, with elements of suspense and tension. I found it an entertaining read, with beautifully written prose. Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing for an ARC.

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