Title: Crimson Lake
Author: Candice Fox
Publisher: Cornerstone (Random House UK)
Six minutes. That’s all it takes to ruin Detective Ted Conkaffey’s life. Accused but not convicted of Claire’s abduction, he escapes north, to the steamy, croc-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake.
Amanda Pharrell knows what it’s like to be public enemy no.1. Maybe it’s her murderous past that makes her so good as a private investigator, tracking lost souls in the wilderness. Her latest target, missing author Jake Scully, has a life more shrouded in secrets than her own – so she enlists help from the one person in town more hated than she is: Ted Conkaffey.
But the residents of Crimson Lake are watching the pair’s every move. And for Ted, a man already at breaking point, this town is offering no place to hide…
Crimson Lake is packed full of mystery, suspense and unease; Candice Fox has crafted a truly atmospheric setting in the Australian town of Crimson Lake, and created equally intriguing characters who you can’t help but want to know more about.
The main character, Ted, was accused of a horrific crime many years ago. He was ‘let off’ when there was a lack of evidence to prove he committed the crime, and he staunchly insists he did not do what he was accused of doing to Claire Bingley, a young girl that he saw standing along by the side of the road. Due to Australian laws and the reputation Ted now has, because of his ‘crime’ his life is effectively in ruins; his marriage broke up, he doesn’t get to see his daughter, and he lost his job as a cop. Now he’s the partner (in employment terms only!) of Amanda, another ex-con whose guilt is not as it seems… Together they make up a team of private investigators, and their first case together is investigating the disappearance of well-known author Jake Scully.
The storyline itself has various prongs – the current case of the missing author, Ted’s inability to not investigate what really happened in Amanda’s case which landed her in prison for many years, and flashbacks/ memories of his own horrific ordeal being wrongly accused. I found the past storylines most interesting, and really wanted to know what had actually happened to little Claire.
I found the whole town of Crimson Lake very atmospheric and oppressive, with everyone judging Ted for his past, particularly the police. So many of the characters in this novel are horrible, but I loved reading it all the same, and I really liked Ted and even Amanda, though she could be very odd at times. Add the eerie atmosphere and interesting characters to a skillfully constructed narrative with some very interesting cases to solve, and you’ve got the first in what looks set to be a great new crime series – and one which I’ll definitely continue reading, so bring on book 2!
Many thanks to Cornerstone for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.