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  • Location: New South Wales

The Dark Lake

The Dark Lake

Why a Booktrail?

2000s: A hot summer. A shocking murder. A town of secrets, waiting to explode…

  • ISBN: 978-1786493545
  • Genre: Crime, Mystery, Police Procedural

What you need to know before your trail

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.

Travel Guide

New South Wales Australia

The atmosphere of the small town is clearly evoked. Smithson Lake is a remote, isolated place with all the trappings of a small town in the middle of nowhere:

“Set in between a burst of mountain ranges, Smithson is a little oasis of greenery in the middle of endless fawn-coloured acres of Aussie farmland. Smithson is known for ‘catching the rain’ that runs from the mountains, which is ironic as it’s the surrounding farms that actually need it.”

This is the place where everyone knows each other  – where the investigating officer knows the dead woman -went to school with her – and where she is married but is having an affair with another officer. But times, and the town are changing:

Suddenly Smithson , the Noah’s ark town that had always proudly boasted two of everything multiplied

Then there’s the lake itself:

“To the east of the town centre is a large lake surrounded by dense bushland and a popular community park. Sonny Lake is really Smithson Lake but no one ever calls it that.”

This community is your typical  Australian town – where everyone knows each other and where relationships and memories of the past can come back to haunt or at least colour the present. The drought, the heat, the unrelenting summer raises both temperatures and tensions, drains the life from people as they get on with their daily lives – some more literally than others.

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Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

Like the dark lake of the title, this novel sucks you in slowly but surely, sometimes you’re not quite sure if you will see the light again but then something pulls you back to the surface gasping for more. There were moments where I felt I was held down under the water longer than I would have liked – the darkness and unrelenting gloom got to me at times – but overall it was nicely done.

If I do ever visit New South Wales and the fictional town of Smithson – I hope I don’t bump into Gemma! Not a character easy to get to know or even close to. That girl has some issues and then some. Twisty links to the girl in the lake which was thrilling to find out but she doesn’t really help herself in certain situations.

The setting wins this novel for me – it’s the darkness and unpredictability of the lake, its links to the town and its teenagers – now adults which really shimmers. The whole feeling throughout the book is one of gloomy melancholy and the unknown. The placing of the body in the lake, the significance of what the roses might mean..

It did drag a bit in places but overall it’s a novel which lingers and when you leave Smithson lake…you can still hear the sounds of running water, rippling secrets and sunken dreams…

Booktrail Boarding Pass:  The Dark Lake

Destination: New South Wales  Author/Guide:  Sarah Bailey   Departure Time: 2000s

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