Title: Gone by Midnight
Author: Candice Fox
Published: January 22nd 2019
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
Crimson Lake is where bad people come to disappear – and where eight-year-old boys vanish into thin air . . .
On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young friends are left alone while their parents dine downstairs. But when Sara Farrow checks on the children at midnight, her son is missing. The boys swear they stayed in their room, and CCTV confirms Richie has not left the building. Despite a thorough search, no trace of the child is found.
Distrustful of the police, Sara turns to Crimson Lake’s unlikeliest private investigators: disgraced cop Ted Conkaffey and convicted killer Amanda Pharrell. This case just the sort of twisted puzzle that gets Amanda’s blood pumping.
For Ted, the case couldn’t have come at a worse time. Two years ago a false accusation robbed him of his career, his reputation and most importantly his family. But now Lillian, the daughter he barely knows, is coming to stay in his ramshackle cottage by the lake.
Ted must dredge up the area’s worst characters to find a missing boy. And the kind of danger he uncovers could well put his own child in deadly peril . . .
‘The real trouble came at midnight.’
You will want to keep reading Gone by Midnight to midnight. It may be the third chapter in the Crimson Lake/Ted & Amanda series, but it is Candice Fox at her very optimum. Super charged by a clever plot, surprising twists, a thick atmosphere and great background character development, Gone by Midnight is a compulsive page turner.
Crimson Lake has previously been the scene of murders and disappearances. Yet again a desperate scene plays out as Ted and Amanda race against the clock to try to locate a missing eight year old boy. The boy was part of a group staying in a local hotel in the area, when he was left alone with his friends while their parents shared dinner together downstairs. When young Richie’s mother Sara checks on her son at midnight (nod to the title of the book) she discovers he is missing. There are inconsistencies in this case from the start. The other boys in the room claim not to have seen Richie that night and camera footage fails to turn up any sign of Richie. A thorough search of the hotel building where Richie was staying reveals nothing by the way of clues. Sara Farrow is a woman who has been scorned publicly before, so she turns to an unlikely source to help find her son. Ted Conkaffey is a former officer of law, disgraced by a wrongful conviction. Ted’s partner in crime is Amanda Pharrell, a convicted felon. But Ted and Amanda vow to work together to solve this complex case – and in the process, return a missing boy to his mother. Ted’s personal life again gets in the way of the investigation when he must shield his young daughter from the dangers of the Richie Farrow case. Ted must navigate the murky waters of Crimson Lake yet again to get to the bottom of this heart wrenching case.
Candice Fox is such a great ambassador for crime fiction here in Australia and overseas. There are some top notch crime writers that are continuing to emerge on our publishing scene, but Fox is one of the pillars of the crime fiction community. Gone by Midnight is simply brilliant.
Fox has a natural flair for both the written word and crime writing. She knows how to mold a story around a compelling case, defined by plenty of questionable moments, suspicion and elements of surprise. Her writing is incredibly astute, thoughtful and fluid. She balances attention to detail, with dark humour, keen observations and addictive prose. Fox never fails to draw me in completely to her novels and this was the case with Gone by Midnight.
There is a fabulous balance between the personal lives and background of the main investigators of this case, with the actual crime that is specific to this story. We see Ted step away from the revenge and despair he displayed in the previous books in the series. Ted’s devotion to his life in Crimson Lake, particularly to his gaggle of geese was so heart-warming. Likewise, his longing for contact with his daughter is just as touching. As for Amanda, Ted’s unlikely partner in crime, she seems to come into her own in this book. We see more of her crime busting abilities, but also more of her quirky traits, which I lapped up!
The crime at hand is well executed. Adding in extra factors to this crime, such as the dripping hot atmosphere of Far North Queensland, the endless swarming mangroves and croc infested waters contributes to the desperation of this case. And Fox managed to fool me, I thought I had the case solved, but in true Candice Fox fashion it is never that straightforward! A last hour twist ensured that I was completely duped by the incredibly gifted Ms Fox!
The third book in the Conkaffey and Pharrell series works on all levels – it features diverse characterisation, a perspiring atmosphere, tangled cases and a great partnership. Gone by Midnight rightly deserves five stars.
Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox is published on January 22nd 2019 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Gone by Midnight, Candice Fox visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Gone by Midnight is book #49 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge