5 May 2013

Review: BAY OF FIRES, Poppy Gee

  • Published by Headline Review 2013
  • ISBN 978-0-7553-8784-7
  • 305 pages
  • Available on Amazon
Synopsis (Hatchett.com)

When the body of a backpacker washes ashore in an idyllic small town in Tasmania, the close-knit community starts to fall apart. As long-buried secrets start to come out, the delicate balance of their fragile lives is threatened...

Deep in a national park on the east coast of Tasmania, the Bay of Fires is an idyllic holiday community. There are no more than a dozen shacks beside the lagoon - and secrets are hard to keep; the intimacy of other people's lives is their nourishment.

The fact that Sarah Avery has returned, having left her boyfriend and her job, is cause for gossip in itself. Then, the bikini-clad body of a young girl is found washed up on the beach; a year after another teenage girl went missing. Journalist Hall Flynn is sent to the coast to investigate, and all too quickly the close-knit community turns in on itself.

My Take

The idyllic holiday community at the Bay of Fires has been meeting each summer for years. But things change, children grow up, parents get older, and at the core of what seems like paradise, decay grows.
It takes Hall Flynn's outsider's eye to pick some of the fragility.

Deep in the national park on the east coast of Tasmania, three or four hours by car from Launceston, Bay of Fires is sufficiently isolated to make communications slow. The novel is set over the Christmas Day to New Year's Day holidays.

This time the dead person is an outsider, a backpacker, and no-one is willing to put everything together. The shack owners don't reveal all they know. Just twelve months earlier one of their own children disappeared without trace and the sea conveniently bore the blame for that too.

Poppy Gee does a clever job of weaving sub-plots, such as why Sarah Avery has come home and why Hall Flynn is not romantically attached, in with the main mystery of what happened to the backpacker.  The tension between the shack owners and the incoming campers is well depicted, as is the willingness to blame a local resident who is not "normal". Investigating the backpacker's death is carried out by Sarah and Hall, sometimes together, sometimes independently.

The setting almost plays the role of another character and certainly sent me off researching.

This was an engaging and refreshing read, another new author to watch.

My rating: 4.3

About the Author

Poppy Gee was born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1977. She spends every summer with her family at their shack in the Bay of Fires. This novel was written as part of a Masters in Creative Writing, at the University of Queensland, which Poppy completed in 2011. This is Poppy's first published fiction. She has worked as a journalist, editor and book reviewer and currently teaches journalism and creative writing. Poppy lives in Queensland with her husband and two beautiful children. She has nearly completed her next novel, another literary thriller set in the Tasmanian ski village Ben Lomond.

Author's website

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