Book review: Gone By Midnight by Candice Fox

Monday, January 21, 2019 Permalink

It has to be said up front… THIS IS MY FAVOURITE BOOK (YET) IN THIS SERIES. Which is saying something as I’ve enjoyed both others (though loved the first  Crimson Lake a tad more than the second, Redemption Point).

This has absolutely everything. Fox’s writing is intelligent but easily devoured. I’ve seen/heard her speak and she’s got that ability to spin a yarn in a way that sucks you in; and before you know it you’re enchanted, not just by the story but by the way she tells it. By the words she uses and phrases she shapes into an addictive version of reality from which you have no desire to escape.

Book review: Gone By Midnight by Candice FoxGone by Midnight
by Candice Fox
Series: Crimson Lake #3
Published by Bantam Australia
on January 22nd 2019
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction, Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 0143789155, 9780143789154
Pages: 400

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young friends are left alone while their parents dine downstairs. But when Sara Farrow checks on the children at midnight, her son is missing. The boys swear they stayed in their room, and CCTV confirms Richie has not left the building. Despite a thorough search, no trace of the child is found.

Distrustful of the police, Sara turns to Crimson Lake’s unlikeliest private investigators: disgraced cop Ted Conkaffey and convicted killer Amanda Pharrell. This case just the sort of twisted puzzle that gets Amanda’s blood pumping.

For Ted, the case couldn’t have come at a worse time. Two years ago a false accusation robbed him of his career, his reputation and most importantly his family. But now Lillian, the daughter he barely knows, is coming to stay in his ramshackle cottage by the lake.

Ted must dredge up the area’s worst characters to find a missing boy. And the kind of danger he uncovers could well put his own child in deadly peril . . .

So… Ted and Amanda are back. We saw the (partial) resolution of the allegations against Ted (beleaguering him since we first met several years ago), in the last novel of the series… so this time around he’s finally getting to spend time with his 3yr old daughter Lillian – who is delightfully written.

Of course, his time with Lillian is interrupted as  a boy’s gone missing and the mother wants him to help. Interestingly (and as a complete aside, cos these things tend to play on my anally-retentive mind) there’s no talk of payment or contracts and Amanda / Ted don’t seem to do the Kinsey Millhone thing of drawing up a contract with their client and seeking a downpayment. (Anyhoo….)

Amanda is again (kinda) the star of the show. Ted’s still officially leading the charge but finding himself relating to the missing boy’s parents more than he might otherwise… now he’s completely responsible for his own daughter – albeit briefly.

For someone so socially inept Amanda is crazy smart at figuring things out. I mean, I think I’ve said it before… that I’m assuming her ummm… quirks aren’t just emotional (given her history) but perhaps she falls on the autism spectrum or similar. On one level she seems incapable of controlling herself or her behaviour, but at the same time she can ‘play the game’ and is possibly more socially savvy than she lets on. Perhaps it’s more a case of just not caring.

Here Ted (re)introduces Amanda to we readers….

There’s something deeply wrong with Amanda Pharrell.

Whatever it is, it defies logic. It’s a slippery, indefinable thing that arms her with an eternal supply of social confidence, while at the same time preventing her from doing anything except horrifying, disturbing or annoying people everywhere she goes. She has apparently no emotional range, no gut-deep reservoir of guilt or anger at her bloody past, and yet she wears the consequences of that same past on her skin in neck-to-toe tattoos…..

She has militant rues for those around her, and none for herself… pp 28-29

Fox changes points of view in this novel (and recall she’s done so in the past via killers’ diary entries and correspondence) and it’s done seamlessly. In addition to Ted and Amanda, we’re placed in the head of another police officer on occasions. One who resents Amanda and is more than happy to disrupt the current investigation to seek revenge.

I must admit I was surprised whodunnit in this instance. I’m usually pretty good at working it out but didn’t entirely pick this one until Ted dragged me (kicking and screaming) there.

I’ve commented in my reviews of the first two books of this series, Crimson Lake and Redemption Point, what an amazing job Fox does of placing us into the hot steamy environs of far north Queensland and how she deftly reflects the tension underpinning its (seemingly) laid-back lifestyle. There’s a little less scene-setting this time around, which is mostly because much of the book is set in the city (Cairns) itself. There’s also less of Ted wallowing and we readers being pulled in different directions by multiple investigations. Fox peels this back to the players, the story and the stunning way in which she relays it.

I think I enjoyed this so much because the case at hand was very much the focus with the characters – their lives and (ahem) quirks – adding additional texture to the narrative.

So… another amazing piece of work by Fox and it kills me that we have to wait another year to meet Amanda and Ted again. (Oh and I hope Lillian makes a return visit!)

Gone By Midnight by Candice Fox will be published in Australia by Penguin Random House and available from 22 January 2019.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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