Book Review: The Housemate by Sarah Bailey

About the Book:

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?

A riveting, provocative thriller from the bestselling author of The Dark Lake, Into the Night and Where the Dead Go.

Published by Allen & Unwin

Released 31st August 2021

My Thoughts:

First and foremost, I need to let you know that I’m a Sarah Bailey super fan. Not a crazy one (seriously) but a dedicated one. I’ve read and reviewed all her books, with the most recent two releases sporting quotes from my reviews inside of their opening pages. I love crime fiction, but it’s the police procedural more than the psychological thriller that draws me in and that’s where Sarah Bailey comes in. Her crime fiction is the perfect balance of investigation, suspense, and the unexpected. The Housemate is her first standalone and it comes on the back of a very strong trilogy, so expectations were high. They were certainly met. This novel is just all shades of awesome. The main character, Oli, is an investigative journalist which ticks my boxes of interest since I am a journalist (even though I no longer work as one, I still have a heavy interest in the profession). I was so drawn into the daily grind of chasing the scoop with Oli and Cooper and I loved how Sarah captured that frenzied urgency that characterises live news. This, combined with the police investigation angle, made for an absorbing and gripping read from start to finish.

I like the whole cold case narrative of investigation, the new clue turning up that reopens an old case and turns everything from before onto its head. And wow, this case really got complicated, and the layers of intrigue just kept on piling up. I didn’t see the ending coming, I had one idea in my head, and while I was sort of headed in the right direction, I was also way off. That happens each time I read a novel by Sarah Bailey; there is never anything predictable going on! Both the characterisation and the story were excellent within The Housemate. It’s a big novel, both in length and content. There’s a lot going because we’ve got this cold case along with another cold case from the same era that warrants a mention from time to time, as well as another breaking case in the present day that is taking up airtime in the newsroom. Alongside all of this is Oli’s own personal life, which has changed rapidly within twelve months, leading to much introspection on her part as to whether she is on the right path, both personally and professionally. There is also some childhood trauma bubbling away in the background that has led to a fractious family dynamic. Definitely a lot going on in this novel, but the slow burn style and the length allows for a well-timed exploration of all these themes and topics, and really, when you write as well as Sarah Bailey does, everything just falls into place and it’s never too much all at once.

If you’ve never read Sarah Bailey before, The Housemate is an excellent place to start. I guarantee you’ll be immediately sourcing her trilogy as soon as you’ve finished reading it. Australian crime fiction is on fire at present, with so many truly excellent authors releasing high quality fiction. If it’s not your normal genre, it can be hard to know who to start with, but take my work for it, if you start with Sarah Bailey, you are starting with the best of the best.


Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Housemate by Sarah Bailey

  1. Pingback: Crime Fiction Round-Up: September-October 2021 | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

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