Into the Night by Sarah Bailey

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Into the Night
Gemma Woodstock
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Book Synopsis

Sarah Bailey's acclaimed debut novel The Dark Lake was a bestseller around the world and Bailey's taut and suspenseful storytelling earned her fitting comparisons with Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins. 

Into the Night is her stunning new crime novel featuring the troubled and brilliant Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock. This time Gemma finds herself lost and alone in the city, broken-hearted by the decisions she's had to make. Her new workplace is a minefield and the partner she has been assigned is uncommunicative and often hostile. When a homeless man is murdered and Gemma is put on the case, she can't help feeling a connection with the victim and the lonely and isolated life he led despite being in the middle of a bustling city. 

Then a movie star is killed in bizarre circumstances on the set of a major film shoot, and Gemma and her partner Detective Sergeant Nick Fleet have to put aside their differences to unravel the mysteries surrounding the actor's life and death. Who could commit such a brazen crime and who stands to profit from it? Far too many people, she soon discovers - and none of them can be trusted. But it's when Gemma realises that she also can't trust the people closest to her that her world starts closing in...

Book Review

Sarah Bailey follows up her successful debut The Dark Lake with another procedural focused around detective Gemma Woodstock. Into the Night is, in some ways, a more traditional procedural. Having moved Gemma from her home town of Smithson to the bright lights of Melbourne, Bailey does not need to rely on the personal backstory (and clear conflict of interest) that drove much of the action in her debut.

Into the Night opens with a murder. A homeless man is found stabbed to death and detective Gemma Woodstock is first on the scene. Despite this, her commanding officer gives the case to another detective to run. Soon this murder is well and truly overshadowed by the murder of a movie star on set during filming. This death, also a stabbing, took place on camera but in a zombie crowd scene which makes it impossible to identify the assailant. This case is handed to Woodstock and her alpha male partner Fleet to run and before long they are confronted by a mass of suspects and red herrings while also running the media gauntlet.

Gemma’s voice is once again the centre of Bailey’s narrative. In the move to Melbourne she has left her son Ben behind with his father and loosened her family ties. But while she has physically left her issues behind, they still haunt her personal decisions. And a quick visit back to her home town does not make things any easier. But despite her idiosyncratic decision making on the personal front, and some issues with her colleagues, Gemma is still a good detective and is slowly able to piece her way through the thicket of clues and false trails.

Into the Night is a solid procedural. While it is a tough grind for the police, constant twists and reveals keep the investigation fresh. And Bailey manages to explore a number of contemporary issues – the cult of personality, the role of social media and the #MeToo movement. As a second novel this manages to avoid repeating many of the beats of the first. And with this expansion of her world, it feels like Gemma Woodstock might be with us for a while.

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