Candice Fox plots another classic
CANDICE Fox's first novel, Hades, won the Ned Kelly Award for best debut in 2014 and the Sydney-sider followed that up with a best crime novel win in 2015 for Eden, the second in the popular series featuring detectives Frank Bennett and Eden Archer.
The third novel in that series, Fall, was published in late 2015 and the gritty police thriller cemented Fox's position as a leading voice in Australian crime fiction.
Although Fox has been busy collaborating with James Patterson on an Australian-based series, kicking off with Never Never in late 2016, she's also just released the first in what will undoubtedly be another highly acclaimed series.
The intriguing new thriller features a disgraced Sydney cop, Ted Conkaffey, and convicted murderer-turned private investigator Amanda Pharrell. Crimson Lake is named after the fictitious locale of Ted's new home in far north Queensland, where he's trying to escape the media attention afforded to someone the world thinks has gotten away with a brutal rape.
It's in this steamy crocodile-infested setting Ted meets former inmate Amanda who's investigating the disappearance of local high profile novelist, Jake Scully.
They're an odd pairing despite their shared experience with the justice system. As news of Ted's whereabouts spreads, the pair is up against an increasingly hostile community as they work to uncover Scully's secrets. Fox is able to draw on her own experiences as an aspiring writer and published author, through the missing novelist, his enthusiastic fans and angry detractors.
"I do get unsettling correspondence from readers sometimes. I just took those fears and blew them out of proportion to suit the story," Fox said.
One of the strengths of Fox's work, evidenced in her first series, and now Crimson Lake, is her ability to develop likeable but flawed - and occasionally psychopathic - characters.
"I've never met a real life person without a complex history or a bunch of interesting predilections," she said. "And everyone is flawed; however much effort we put into hiding it. Some people are just really flawed."
Another standout in Crimson Lake is the setting, which is almost like another character and Fox does a wonderful job of capturing the far north: the beaches and islands; the tropical rainforest; and the sometimes-oppressive heat and humidity.
It's an area Fox knows first-hand.
"I lived on the Sunshine Coast for seven years, so I went up to far north Queensland frequently. It doesn't take me long to capture the essence of a place. I have a good eye for idiosyncrasies in both people and places, and I'm always out collecting these tidbits of reality just in case I need them."
Candice Fox will have a chance to revisit the 'scene of the crime' herself when she tours Queensland and New South Wales in February and March in conjunction with the launch of this riveting and enjoyable read.
Crimson Lake by Candice Fox, published by Penguin Australia, RRP $32.99, is out now. More at debbish.com.