Allen & Unwin
Published by
Allen & Unwin (2017-06)
Original language
Crime & mystery fiction


by Bailey, Sarah

A hot summer. A shocking murder. A town of secrets, waiting to explode. A brooding, suspenseful and explosive debut that will grip you from the first page to the last.

There had been a few minutes when I was alone with her in the autopsy room. I'd felt wild. Absent. Before I could stop myself I was leaning close to her, telling her everything. The words draining out of me as she lay there. Her long damp hair hanging off the back of the steel table. Glassy eyes fixed blindly on the ceiling. She was still so beautiful, even in death.

Our secrets circled madly around the bright white room that morning. Rocking back and forth on my heels as I stood there next to her, I knew how far in I was again, how comprehensively her death could undo me. I looked at Rosalind Ryan properly for the last time before breathing deeply, readying myself, letting her pull me back into her world, and I sank down, further and further until I was completely, utterly under.

A beautiful young teacher has been murdered, her body found in the lake, strewn with red roses. Local policewoman Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock pushes to be assigned to the case, concealing the fact that she knew the murdered woman in high school years before.

But that's not all Gemma's trying to hide. As the investigation digs deeper into the victim's past, other secrets threaten to come to light, secrets that were supposed to remain buried. The lake holds the key to solving the murder, but it also has the power to drag Gemma down into its dark depths...

Sarah Bailey is a Melbourne based writer with a background in advertising and communications. She has two young children and currently works as a director of creative projects company Mr Smith. Over the past five years she has written a number of short stories and opinion pieces. The Dark Lake is her first novel.

Sold rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Annelie Geissler

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The Dark Lake is an utterly unputdownable crime novel with a flawed but compelling heroine, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock. I hope I will meet her again

Quote: Louise Cornege, Senior Publicist Allen & Unwin

Sarah Bailey’s debut ticks all the boxes—eerie mystery, great Australian setting, strong female lead and thrilling twists that kept me guessing until the very end. A must-read!

Quote: Lillian Kovats, National Account Manager Allen & Unwin

In 2018 The Dark Lake won Best Debut Novel (The Davitt Awards) and Best First Crime Novel (The Ned Kelly Awards). Further nominations included: Shortlisted 2018 General Fiction Book of the Year - Australian Book Industry Awards Shortlisted 2018 Best Adult Crime Novel - The Davitt Awards Longlisted 2018 Best Debut Fiction - Indie Book Awards

Quote: Allen & Unwin

‘Is it happening? Has it happened? A haunting story of a descent into secrets and lies, told in a stream of consciousness style that will keep you guessing to the end and, like me, eagerly awaiting the next book!

Quote: Michelle Ashman, Account Manager Allen & Unwin

...a brooding, suspenseful and explosive debut that will grip you from the first page to the last... Read this addictive crime thriller now.

Review: New Idea

THE DARK LAKE is a stunning debut that gripped me from page one and never eased up. Dark, dark, dark—but infused with insight, pathos, a great sense of place, and razor-sharp writing. It's going to be big and Sarah Bailey needs to clear a shelf for awards.

Quote: C.J. Box, NYT bestselling author of Vicious Circle

This polished debut is a winner from the first page.

Review: The Daily telegraph, BW Magazine

an absolutely stunning debut. This is such a beautifully written and utterly absorbing read, it's hard to believe that it's the author's first novel.

Review: Booktopie

Bailey interweaves her sympathetic protagonist's past and present with an uncommon assurance. creating a page-turner that's both tense and thought provoking.

Review: Publishers Weekly

I read this in two sittings—it was riveting! I can’t believe she is a first-time author. What a find! What a winner!

Quote: Tina Gitsis, Business Development Manager Allen & Unwin

I really loved this. A deeply satisfying piece of Australian noir with a wonderfully compelling plot and characters who really lived in the reading and stayed with me long after I put it down. It made me think of Peter Temple’s The Broken Shore. An exceptionally well-constructed and evocative mystery.

Quote: Karen Williams, Marketing Director Allen & Unwin

‘I read The Dark Lake in a single sitting, one great gulp of pure reading pleasure. I loved the frazzled female cop as narrator, not a hard-bitten tough guy or neurotic smartarse detective but a flesh-and-blood young mother you’d like to have a drink with: flawed, human and very real. I loved that she took me down a dark and twisting road, told me things I couldn’t completely believe, and made me doubt everything I thought I had figured out. This is a different kind of crime novel and a stunning debut that will find and thrill readers all over the world. All I can say is: Dive into The Dark Lake!

Quote: Jane Palfreyman, Publisher Allen & Unwin

A pacey, gutsy, drama-filled read; reaches a new level of Aussie crime writing.

Quote: Patrick Gallagher, Chairman Allen & Unwin

US: Grand Central (October 2017; we sold two books for very high six figures to Deb Futter at Grand Central, the second book is due for delivery in December 2017) UK: Corvus imprint of Atlantic Books (early 2018) Italy: Edizioni Piemme China: ?

Quote: Allen & Unwin

I read THE DARK LAKE in one sitting, it's that good. A crime thriller that seizes you from the first page and slowly draws you into a web of deception and long buried secrets. Beautifully written, compulsively readable, and highly recommended

Quote: Douglas Preston, NYT bestselling author of Lost City of the Monkey God

I found The Dark Lake incredibly engrossing and compelling reading. Loved the tangled, twisted plot and it captured that small town dynamic perfectly.

Quote: Miranda Van Asch, International Agencies Director Allen & Unwin

beautifully rendered protagonist and hook-laden mystery. An addictive and thoroughly entertaining read.

Review: The Weekly Review

Hooked me from page one! Sarah Bailey combines the very best elements in this stunning debut thriller--a troubled detective still trying to find her way as a female investigator, a small town haunted by secrets both past and present, and a beautiful victim whose unsettling allure appears to be her biggest asset and largest downfall. With clever twists and all-too-human characters, this book will keep you racing toward the end.

Quote: Lisa Gardner, author

an addictive crime thriller, a mesmerising account of one woman's descent into deceit and madness, and a stunning debut.

Review: Australian Crime Fiction

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