Don't expect a Whodunit. It's more subtle than that.,
This review is from: Bay of Fires (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The problem with a novel that begins with a dead body is that readers automatically assume they're about to read a murder mystery. These readers expect to read a fast-paced narrative as the detective (amateur of professional) closes in on the killer. When that doesn't happen, they accuse it of being dull, slow and boring.
Bay of Fires is such a novel. It doesn't seek to expose the killer. Life is never that simple. It is about how a small community of realistic people, none of whom are shining heroes, react when they think there's a killer in their midst. Suspicion immediately falls on Roger, the misfit of the community. He has been hounded and bullied all his life and now he is subjected to foul bigotry. However, the author shows us cleverly how any one of them could have done the deed.
Sarah Avery, who has retreated to her family she despises after the violent end to a love affair. She and Hall, a local journalist who hopes to get to the bottom of the murder of a young Swiss tourist and the disappearance of another young girl a year before. Despite a mutual attraction, both have reasons why they are at odds. I like the fact that Sarah is deeply flawed (I am tired of too-good-to-be-true heroines.) She reminds me of how I might have ended up had I given in to the dark side of my character.
The novel's setting is brilliantly evoked. I have never been to Tasmania but I feel I know this coast, its currents, its features, the flora and fauna as well as the ugly rubbish site. Although I have no interest in Fishing, I was fascinated by the details of bait, line and the fish caught.
I was tempted to give this novel five stars but ended up with four. Readers are actually not wrong to remark on its slowness. I do think that the editing could have been a little more rigorous. To be honest, some scenes were repetitious. I liked the open-endedness of it. As I said, life is rarely tied up in neat ribbons. There is the sense of a positive ending. The optimist in me believes that the relationship between Hall and Sarah will continue. Roger is tolerated better and the community learns to accept itself for what it is and that it can pull together when required rather than tear itself apart.
I will most definitely read Poppy Gee's next novel.