Aussie Sarah Bailey’s debut novel, The Dark Lake published last year was hugely popular and on many a ‘best of 2017’ list. I enjoyed it, though possibly not as much as most but I loved her writing in particular and my review shared a stack of quotes (usually a sign that I made notes of paragraphs and phrases I enjoyed). And I ended that review with the hope of meeting the main character/s again.
And thankfully, that time has come. (Sooner than I probably expected!)
Into the Night
by Sarah Bailey
Series: Gemma Woodstock #2
Published by Allen & Unwin
on May 23rd 2018
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock finds herself lost and alone in the city, broken-hearted by the decisions she's had to make. Her new workplace is a minefield and the partner she has been assigned is uncommunicative and often hostile. When a homeless man is murdered and Gemma is put on the case, she can't help feeling a connection with the victim and the lonely and isolated life he led despite being in the middle of a bustling city.
Then a movie star is killed in bizarre circumstances on the set of a major film shoot, and Gemma and her partner Detective Sergeant Nick Fleet have to put aside their differences to unravel the mysteries surrounding the actor's life and death. Who could commit such a brazen crime and who stands to profit from it? Far too many people, she soon discovers - and none of them can be trusted. But it's when Gemma realises that she also can't trust the people closest to her that her world starts closing in...
I loved this book. More than I expected to and more than The Dark Lake. Though Gemma’s got a sh*tload of stuff going on in her life, the book itself is more focused around the crime and less memory-laden I guess. It’s complex and gritty, and all in the now.
We pick up a few years after The Dark Lake (and I am surprised Bailey jumped forth in time so far). Gemma’s been in Melbourne for 3mths so many of her old colleagues and those we met in the first book are behind her. She does (however) make a visit to Smithson so we meet some of the old cast again.
Now however, she’s got a boss who keeps things close to his chest and who doesn’t (yet) seem to trust her. And a partner who’s a mix of annoying, inappropriate and – sometimes – surprisingly astute.
Interestingly Gemma realises – though she’s grappling with a new work environment and colleagues – she’s settled quite well into Melbourne life and loves the anonymity the city offers.
I was alone: barely a mother, barely a daughter. But somehow, despite my guilt and melancholy, I had slotted into my new home more easily than intended. p 66
She realises however, at the same time, she’s not dealing with her problems like a normal person (ie. just over-sharing on Facebook and the like!), rather acting out in ways that could be a little unsafe.
There’s a love interest on the scene, but he seems willing to take things slowly and she feels bad for dicking him around. (Kinda literally, but I won’t go there, cos #spoilers.)
Gemma’s disappointed when her boss doesn’t give her lead on a new case – the brutal killing of a homeless man. Fortune favours the patient (or something) however because the higher-profile stabbing of an up and coming actor (during a zombie movie) is offered to her and Fleet.
Unlike poor old homeless Walter Miller, where witnesses are limited and motives minimal; there are a stack of witnesses to Sterling Wade’s death and a myriad of suspects – from a sibling envious of his success, to his family who are struggling financially, a movie director who Sterling confronted over unwanted sexual advances towards his co-star, a boyfriend AND a girlfriend. Not to mention crazed fans.
Ultimately there’s a bit of intersection across the cases and Gemma helps inadvertently solve another, but not without some personal cost and being confronted with some cold hard truths.
Again I enjoyed Bailey’s writing and many of her phrases just sing….
It’s impossible for me to know if he was good, bad or any of the shades in between. But no matter what happened at the end, right now – punctured, slumped forward and drained of life – this dead old man looks like an abandoned little boy. p 6
This book has it all: interesting characters, a great plot and is beautifully and effortlessly written. And – happily it ends rather interestingly so… there will presumably be more.
Into The Night by Sarah Bailey will be published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and is out tomorrow.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.