I reviewed The Dark Lake by this author not so long ago but actually, it was this book – her second Gemma Woodstock crime novel – that I picked up first. It just looked so interesting with its brooding Melbourne in winter setting; a damaged detective (Woodstock is hopeless at relationships, has more baggage than you can shake a stick at, including a young son she has left behind in the small town where she grew up); and everything’s new – new flat, new job, new city, new partner.
But you just have to read book one first. Into the Night begins with the murder of a homeless man and Sergeant Gemma Woodstock feels the pressure to close the case quickly so that other Melbourne homeless feel safe and the news media think the police care about those who slip below the radar.
This becomes impossible when rising star, Sterling Wade, is stabbed during the filming of a zombie movie in broad daylight. Half the country is suddenly in mourning and there is a media frenzy. Gemma is assigned to lead the case with partner, Nick Flint, who would like to think he’s as sharp as his name.
Although Wade is apparently loved by everyone, a surprising number of people have motives to kill him. His siblings are disconnected, suffer from envy and like their parents could do with a cash injection. He has a girlfriend and a boyfriend, but do either of them know about each other? The suspects soon pile up.
Meanwhile Gemma haunts city bars, goes home with strangers, struggles to function and has family issues to deal with. Bailey ramps up the tension nicely, with a nail-biting showdown towards the end. It’s a nicely rounded out story, though apart from Gemma, more driven by plot than the characters. You never really get to know a lot about Wade, and his associates seem a little two-dimensional to be interesting. It probably doesn’t help that they’re all in show-biz.
But from the point of view a story that ticks along and keeps the reader interested, Bailey pretty much nails it. I finished the book thinking I’d like to read more cases with Gemma at the helm. There’s unfinished business with Nick and Gemma needs to turn her life around.
You can read Into the Night as a stand-alone, but to do the series justice, I would recommend you read The Dark Lake first. Jane Harper fans (The Dry), waiting to get their hands on her next book will find Gemma Woodstock fills the gap nicely.