Title: Where the Dead Go (Gemma Woodstock #3)
Author: Sarah Bailey
Published: August 2019
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Genre: Crime & Mystery
I received a copy of Where the Dead Go from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Four years after the events of Into the Night, DS Gemma Woodstock is on the trail of a missing girl in a small coastal town.
A fifteen-year-old girl has gone missing after a party in the middle of the night. The following morning her boyfriend is found brutally murdered in his home. Was the girl responsible for the murder, or is she also a victim of the killer? But who would want two teenagers dead?
The aftermath of a personal tragedy finds police detective Gemma Woodstock in the coastal town of Fairhaven with her son Ben in tow. She has begged to be part of a murder investigation so she can bury herself in work rather than taking the time to grieve and figure out how to handle the next stage of her life – she now has serious family responsibilities she can no longer avoid. But Gemma also has ghosts she must lay to rest.
Gemma searches for answers, while navigating her son’s grief and trying to overcome the hostility of her new colleagues. As the mystery deepens and old tensions and secrets come to light, Gemma is increasingly haunted by a similar missing persons case she worked on not long before. A case that ended in tragedy and made her question her instincts as a cop. Can she trust herself again?
A riveting thriller by the author of the international bestseller The Dark Lake, winner of both the Ned Kelly Award and the Sisters in Crime Davitt Award for a debut crime novel.
Over the last few years, I’ve read Sarah Bailey’s books – beginning with her debut, The Dark Lake, and the follow-up book, Into the Night – and really enjoyed them as Australian crime/mystery books that have a great sense of atmosphere and place. The protagonist, Gemma Woodstock, is a very flawed, very human character who’s easy to relate to (while still wanting to occasionally shake her so she comes to her senses), and very compelling.
After reading the conclusion to her story, Where the Dead Go, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve found my favourite Gemma Woodstock story.
Where the Dead Go is the third and final instalment in Gemma’s story, and takes place four years after the events of Into the Night. Dealing with her own personal tragedy and the responsibilities she now has to take on, Gemma takes on a murder and missing persons’ case in the coastal town of Fairhaven as a way of running away from her grief. With her young son, Ben, in tow, searches for answers, both in her professional and personal life, while trying to solve a case that’s begun to remind her of one from her past.
As with the prior two books, Where the Dead Go, has a very strong sense of place. Gemma’s working in a smaller town, where most of the locals know one another, but with the addition of tourists that muddy the waters when it comes to investigating these two violent crimes. In Fairhaven, everyone seems to know everyone else’s business, but everyone has secrets and some of those threaten to undo much of Gemma’s work on the case.
Gemma herself, has both grown as an individual, but also still struggles on a day-to-day basis with being an adult (which is all too relatable). In all three books, Gemma’s been in a different location, and in all three, she’s constantly running from her past and the expectations of those who know her. It makes her a very intriguing character because she knows what she needs to do in this book – which is to actually be the parent her son needs her to be – but she’s not quite sure how to do that and she has a deep resentment of people trying to tell her how to do that. She’s still using her work to bypass dealing with her life and her emotions and this comes to a head later in the narrative when she has to confront some personal changes and the impact it has on her current romantic relationship, as well as her relationship with her son.
I didn’t see the plot twists coming in this book, and was surprised as each new twist was revealed. There’s definitely a sinister undertone to the whole story as people try to discourage Gemma from completing her work, forcing her to consider whether she trusts herself to solve the murder and mystery.
Overall, this was highly enjoyable, and a great way to spend an afternoon, especially in the cold, gloomy Winter days we currently have here in Australia. I’m sad that this is the final story for Gemma Woodstock, but I’ll definitely be on the lookout for Sarah Bailey’s future works.