Sarah Bailey - Murder in A Small Australian Town
Do you need something to fill the Jane Harper sized hole in your reading life?
Then Sarah Bailey is for you!
In Bailey's debut novel The Dark Lake, a young high school teacher is found dead in the local lake. The investigation is assigned to Detective Gemma Woodstock, who knows the victim, and as the story unravels, the tangled past she shares with her is revealed. This is a small Australian country town, after all.
While the police procedural aspect of this novel is satisfactory (there's shocks, twists and turns but nothing revolutionary), it's Bailey's characterisations that really shine.
Her main character, Detective Gemma Woodstock is brilliantly flawed, raw and real. From her standing in her shower miscarrying her lover's baby in the opening scene, to her doggedly turning up to work with a crippling hangover, the reader is with her for the whole ride. This where Bailey directs the reader's interests, not so much towards the crimes Gemma investigates, but more the trials and tribulations of her life. The crime she tries desperately to solve is her own redemptive ark, and it's hard to turn away from Gemma's own story.
Award for supporting actor goes to the town itself. Having grown up in a small country town, I know Bailey nails the often claustrophobic nature of country life. The heat, the repetition, the fact there's no where to hide.
If you are a fan of the current wave of amazing Australian crime fiction, do add this to your list. Added bonus, Sarah Bailey has already published other two books in the series, so I'm diving in!