Review by Kylie Thompson
Rating: 5 stars
Publisher: Bantam/ Penguin Random House
Life in the northern rainforests isn’t what Ted Conkaffey expected, though for a man on the run from a severe case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’, options are relatively thin on the ground. But when his lawyer suggests he leave his self-imposed exile to meet a woman named Amanda Pharrell, the life Ted’s running from might just catch up to him.
Amanda isn’t what he was expecting, either. She’s weird. Heavily tattooed, hyperactive, and violently against being in a car. She’s also a PI.
And a convicted murderer.
Just like Ted, the local cops have a hard-on for making her life a misery. Unlike Ted, her high profile case got her thrown in jail. But she’s learned to deal with the stares and the accusations, even managed to stay in the community to work without too much trouble. They may not like her, but when they need help, the community of Crimson Lake are more than willing to let Amanda solve their problems. So when a famous local author goes missing- likely taken by a croc- it’s Amanda the wife tasks with finding out what happened.
Even with Ted’s help, it won’t be an easy case.
There’s a horror to Ted’s story far removed from the crimes he’s trying to solve. In a world of false news, ‘Crimson Lake’ is startlingly relevant. After all, Ted Conkaffey is a man destroyed by the mock outrage of the news cycle- the public turned against him for a crime he didn’t commit, fuelled by the worst kind of circumstantial evidence. An entire life, dragged through the mud because a couple of people saw him on the roadside. In the current political climate, it’s hard to shake the sense that ‘there but for the grace of god’.
It would have been easy for Fox to maintain the tragic hero trope, to have Ted be angry and steadfast in his innocence. And yet, here we have a man who has given up, so broken down by the weight of accusation and condemnation that he has started to wonder whether the world has a point and he’s just not realised it yet. And that? That’s a point of view it’s impossible to look away from.
‘Crimson Lake’ is a story about broken people, a mystery within a mystery as Ted struggles to understand his new boss and maybe friend. It’s impossible for him to reconcile the kind hearted, hyperactive woman with the cold murderess she’s been portrayed as- but Ted’s learned that the media isn’t always the best judge of character. Still, blundering into Amanda’s past might just be more dangerous than the crocodiles prowling the waterways, or the vigilantes attacking his home.
If you like your thrillers rife with edge of your seat tension and characters you can’t help but love, you’re going to want to grab a copy of ‘Crimson Lake’.
‘Crimson Lake’ is published through Bantam/ Penguin Random House, and is available at all leading retailers.