10 December 2021

Review: THE HOUSEMATE, Sara Bailey

  • This edition made available by my local library as an e-book on Libby
  • ISBN: 9781760529338
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin, Australia August 2021
  • 464 pages 

Synopsis (publisher)

Three housemates. One dead, one missing and one accused of murder.

Dubbed the Housemate Homicide, it's a mystery that has baffled Australians for almost a decade.

Melbourne-based journalist Olive Groves worked on the story as a junior reporter and became obsessed by the case. Now, nine years later, the missing housemate turns up dead on a remote property. Olive is once again assigned to the story, this time reluctantly paired with precocious millennial podcaster Cooper Ng.

As Oli and Cooper unearth new facts about the three housemates, a dark web of secrets is uncovered. The revelations catapult Oli back to the death of the first housemate, forcing her to confront past traumas and insecurities that have risen to the surface again.

What really happened between the three housemates that night? Will Oli's relentless search for the murderer put her new family in danger? And could her suspicion that the truth lies closer to home threaten her happiness and even her sanity?

My Take

The "Housemate Homicide" dominated the news nearly a decade ago in Victoria, when one girl was killed, one disappeared and one was convicted of murder. Now the convicted killer has served her sentence, and the missing housemate has turned up dead.

Oli Groves was a young journalist who worked on the original case and she remembers it well. She never understood then what had prompted the murder. Now she has been assigned to the case again, but the newspaper wants a more modern approach: a podcast as well as print articles.

The double time frame is challenging from the beginning as Oli and the photographer she is working with try to track down as many of the people involved in the original case as they can. Oli is still trying to work out the motive behind the original killing. She is convinced there is much more to the story than was originally uncovered.

The plot becomes increasingly more complex as the book develops and raises issues that are very contemporary in their overtones.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Sarah Bailey is a Melbourne-based writer with a background in advertising and communications. She has two young children and is currently the Managing Partner of advertising agency VMLY&R in Melbourne. Her internationally award-winning Gemma Woodstock trilogy includes The Dark Lake, published in 2017 and winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction and the Davitt Award for Best Debut, followed by Into the Night in 2018, and Where the Dead Go in 2019.

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