Book Review: Where the Dead Go by Sarah Bailey

Where the Dead Go…

About the Book:

Four years after the events of Into the Night, DS Gemma Woodstock is on the trail of a missing girl in a small coastal town.

A fifteen-year-old girl has gone missing after a party in the middle of the night. The following morning her boyfriend is found brutally murdered in his home. Was the girl responsible for the murder, or is she also a victim of the killer? But who would want two teenagers dead?

The aftermath of a personal tragedy finds police detective Gemma Woodstock in the coastal town of Fairhaven with her son Ben in tow. She has begged to be part of a murder investigation so she can bury herself in work rather than taking the time to grieve and figure out how to handle the next stage of her life – she now has serious family responsibilities she can no longer avoid. But Gemma also has ghosts she must lay to rest.

Gemma searches for answers, while navigating her son’s grief and trying to overcome the hostility of her new colleagues. As the mystery deepens and old tensions and secrets come to light, Gemma is increasingly haunted by a similar missing persons case she worked on not long before. A case that ended in tragedy and made her question her instincts as a cop. Can she trust herself again?

A riveting thriller by the author of the international bestseller The Dark Lake, winner of both the Ned Kelly Award and the Sisters in Crime Davitt Award for a debut crime novel.

My Thoughts:

“My relationship with death is solid. We go way back.”

They say all good things must come to an end but I must say, a trilogy seems just a bit too short when it comes to Detective Gemma Woodstock. A series seems more fitting. Maybe when we get to book fifteen you can think of winding it up Sarah, but until then, we’re not quite ready to let go. I’ll just leave that with you for now and you can get back to me with a date for book four.

Well, where do I begin? What a book! It seemed a tad longer than the previous two, but wow! Every page mattered. Where the Dead Go is next level crime fiction, and I’ve said it twice already, but seriously, police procedural at its finest. There’s a four year gap between Into the Night and Where the Dead Go. At first, I felt this gap a bit. Gemma was in a different place with different people and being haunted by a case I knew nothing about. Once the pieces began to slide into place, and the picture began to form, all was good, but it reminded me how interlocked these books are – definitely better read as a set, preferably close together.

We’ve seen Gemma grow throughout this trilogy. She’s gone from bad to worse and back again several times but this time, I feel she was at her best. This doesn’t make much sense when you consider that she was largely an emotional wreck for 98% of the novel, but that’s not really what I’m talking about. I mean, her character growth had driven her to this point of brilliance inside her career, possessing more self-control than what I’ve ever seen before, determined, sharp, and stepping up to her maternal yearning for Ben. With Scott gone, as well as being removed from Smithson, Gemma was able to be Ben’s mother without interference. It wasn’t ideal, but it was the two of them getting by.

Whilst investigating two cases side by side, which may or may not have been related, Gemma is haunted by the case of another missing girl – the one she didn’t solve in time. It’s a harrowing cross to bear and she’s determined all the way through this current investigation to not mirror her ‘mistakes’ from before – even though there was nothing at all she could have done to alter the outcome of the previous case. I really like how the author unwrapped this for us, layer by layer as the tension mounted with the current case. It was skilfully done, heightening our awareness of the short distance from missing to dead. I kept thinking, as the pieces all slotted together, of innocent bystanders. The far reaching grip of evil when the circle of crime widens beyond control.

Where the Dead Go is compelling reading. Gritty, realistic, atmospheric and chilling. An absolute cracker of a read that I can’t even begin to recommend highly enough.

“As a detective I’ve touched death with my bare hands. I’ve circled it, smelled it and looked it straight in the eye. I know it’s never far away. I spend a lot of my life thinking about it, talking about it, even expecting it – and when you confront something over and over, your brain eventually relaxes around it.”


Thanks is extended to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of Where the Dead Go for review.

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. Over the past five years she has written a number of short stories and opinion pieces. Her first novel, the bestselling The Dark Lake, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2017, followed by Into the Night in 2018. Where the Dead Go is her third novel in the Gemma Woodstock series.

Where the Dead Go
Published by Allen & Unwin
Released August 2019

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Where the Dead Go by Sarah Bailey

  1. Great review, I could be tempted by this one! It’s a good sign, when you don’t want a series to end; on the other hand, I prefer that the author finishes it at the top. Nothing worse than seeing your favourite series going downhill.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Life According to Literature Tag | Theresa Smith Writes

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