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Library Journal Review
DEBUT When -Rosalind Ryan's body is found floating in a lake surrounded by roses, Det. Gemma Woodstock must face a past she'd hoped would remain buried. The beautiful Rosalind, whom Gemma envied in high school, was a teacher and writer/director of a successful school play, murdered on the production's opening night. The locals believe that to be violated so brutally, strangled, and dumped, she must have been involved in something sinister. It is up to Gemma to untangle the list of suspects, including -Rosalind's strange-acting older brothers, the overly emotional school principal, and maybe even a student with ties to Gemma. The detective insists that the case isn't personal, but threats to her family and secrets surfacing from the past prove otherwise. Australian author Bailey's first novel weaves a tale of deception, family secrets, and flawed but relatable characters. VERDICT While the ultimate plotline is fairly predictable, several smaller mysteries and background characters make this a worthwhile read for fans of fellow detective-focused authors Tana French and Lisa Gardner.-Natalie Browning, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community Coll. Lib., Richmond, VA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Police work comes easily to Det. Sgt. Gemma Woodstock, the narrator of Australian author Bailey's stellar first novel and a rising star in her rural hometown of Smithson. It's the rest of Gemma's life that's problematic, and about to become precarious, with the discovery of Rose Ryan floating, Ophelialike, amid blood-red roses in the lake behind the high school where she taught English and drama. Though it has been a decade since Gemma and Rose graduated from that same institution, weeks after the suicide of Jacob, the boy they both wanted, the case opens the floodgates to secrets Gemma has struggled to repress. But as she and detective partner Felix-with whom she's pursuing an affair that could torpedo both his marriage and her live-in relationship with her son's father-discover, beautiful, brainy Rose had skeletons of her own. Bailey interweaves her sympathetic protagonist's past and present with uncommon assurance-including letting readers in on a crucial revelation Gemma doesn't share-creating a page-turner that's both tense and thought provoking. Agent: Lyn Tranter, Australian Literary Management (Australia). (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A new case proves intensely personal for Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock. The murder of Rosalind Ryan, 28, a teacher at the Australian high school where both she and Gemma once were classmates, has the detective remembering her senior year and her first love, from the joy of their relationship to the pain of his suicide. Gemma had always found Ryan to be as inscrutable as she was beautiful; now the up-and-coming detective and her partner, Felix McKinnon, try to find a killer by untangling the life of the victim, whose body was found strewn with red roses in a nearby lake. At the same time, Gemma, who is living with the father of her two-year-old son, and McKinnon, who's older and married, are carrying on a passionate affair that can have no good end. Cryptic messages from the killer to Gemma threaten her son, inflaming the sergeant's maternal instincts and making her even more determined to solve the case. Only in the final pages are all of Gemma's secrets revealed in this compelling debut by Australian Bailey.--Leber, Michele Copyright 2017 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Police detective Gemma Woodstock works to solve the murder of a former classmate in Bailey's debut mystery.When Rosalind Ryan's body is discovered at the edge of a lake surrounded by red roses, detective Gemma Woodstock and her partner, Felix McKinnon, begin investigating the most complex case of their careers. Rosalind and Gemma attended high school together in the small town of Smithson, so Gemma's memories of Rosalind, who was devastatingly beautiful but also aloof and mysterious, color her exploration of the dead woman's more recent past. Everyone claims to have loved and admired Rosalind: the principal of the school where she taught English and drama; the many students whose lives she touched; her wealthy father and her three brothers. But someone is lying. Gemma becomes obsessed by and exhausted from not only the case, but the memories it stirs up of a high school boyfriend's suicide. She has her own secrets and life complexities, after all; she has a child with a man who wants to marry her, but she's having an affair with Felix, who is also married, and to top it all off, Christmas is coming. There are echoes of Tana French in the novel, but Bailey's characters lack the nuance of French's damaged, brilliant detectives, and her writing falls short of French's lyricism. Still, she smoothly incorporates Gemma's past into the novel to flesh out her character, and Rosalind, while ultimately oversimplified, drives much of the novel's sense of mystery. As all the loose ends of Gemma's life are tied up in tandem with solving the mystery, there seems to be little suggestion of a sequel. Which is probably a good thing, as Gemma and Felix aren't quite gripping enough to warrant a second outing. A satisfying mystery novel with a relatable heroine, if not a revelatory one. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.