A thrilling detective novel set in a country town in Cairns, Crimson Lake is the first of two books in a series by Australian author Candice Fox. It breaks from the typical conventions of a hard-boiled novel, with the narrator Ted as a private investigator but still an anti-hero of sorts.
Accused of abducting and sexually abusing a young girl, ex drug-squad cop Ted Conkaffey has moved from Sydney to Cairns to stay on the low. As a means of distracting himself, he becomes a private investigator alongside the energetic convicted murderer Amanda Pharrell as his partner and neither is trusted by local authorities. They take up the challenge of a missing person’s case – - the author Jake Scully, whose wedding ring was found in a crocodile’s stomach - but to make matters worse, both Ted and Amanda are forced to face their pasts in the plight to re-brand themselves while trying to solve the crime. The final result as one would expect is unexpected.
Each character, including the minor ones, has such a strong presence and voice in the first-person narrative. Fox makes us question Ted’s reliability as a narrator and juggle between his guilt and innocence, but we want to trust him because he’s so likable. This works well for the story itself but leaves us wanting to know whether he’s actually the pedophile people say he is. Crimson Lake was so amazing I had to read the sequel Redemption Point the very next day. Candice Fox’s writing has been so successful that she’s begun working with American author James Patterson. Not to mention, she’s lovely to speak to on Twitter and it’s fantastic to see more female crime authors coming out of the woodwork.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this was made into a film in the not-too-distant future. That would be a project you’d see me marching behind, complete with flags, banners and demands for a midnight screening. I’d love to see Ted and Amanda on the screen.
~ Jaidyn, QBD Broadmeadows