Where the Dead Go is a gripping, authentic winner in its genre.
Australian author Sarah Bailey has published two critically and popularly acclaimed crime novels: The Dark Lake and Into the Night. Her third novel, featuring Detective Gemma Woodstock, has just been released.
Where the Dead Go sees Gemma in Fairhaven, a fictional northern rivers town just outside Byron Bay. Bailey paints a rich and recognisable portrait of a town full of sand, surf, tacky décor and nasty crimes. Temporarily replacing the recently injured local Inspector, she investigates the brutal murder of one teenager, and the disappearance of his girlfriend. Are the two crimes related? And do they have anything to do with a similar series of (as-yet unsolved) events some years earlier?
Bailey certainly knows how to construct a good crime read. There are interesting characters, most of whom are slightly “dodgy”; there are strange and seemingly unrelated incidents; there are twists and turns.
Woodstock herself is an engaging character: smart, dedicated, emotionally wrecked and pushing against the sexism which is still rampant in certain sectors of the police force. She makes mistakes. She beats herself up. She gets on with it. Bailey gives her the right amount of gravitas that we trust her, yet also weaves in vulnerabilities to give some depth, and a woman that many of us can relate to.
Structured to give just the right pace, this work is also imbued with a strong sense of place: the reader moves into Fairhaven for the duration of the book, getting to know the town and its people, and gaining some buy-in of the outcome – which is exactly what a good crime novel should do.
Readable without being too simplistic, psychologically authentic without being too deep, and just enormously enjoyable, Where the Dead Go is a winner in its genre.
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: August 2019