Sunday, 24 February 2013

Book Review: Bay of Fires, Poppy Gee

Bay of Fires is situated on Tasmania’s east coast.  It received its name from Captain Tobias Furnes in 1773 when he sighted many fires lit along the coast, leading him to believe that the area had a large population.  It is this gorgeous part of Australia that Poppy Gee sets her first novel, a murder-mystery.  The body of a backpacker washes ashore in the Bay of Fires, a small, close-knit community and so begins our journey with Gee.  Sarah Avery is a local, returning to the Bay of Fires after a stint running a prawn farm up in North Queensland.  Her reasons for returning are a closely guarded secret, but as you continue reading, you realize that she isn’t the only one with secrets.

The body of the backpacker serves as fodder for the locals to gossip, speculate and rekindle old prejudices.   There are many potential suspects and Gee keeps you interested and guessing all the way through.  For me, the part of this novel I enjoyed the most was Gee’s character descriptions. Every single character in this novel is flawed, deep and innately human.   There is no glossing over and no beating around the bush with Gee's writing.   She brings you a real view of humanity and all its potential ugliness.

Gee lost me a few times moving quickly from being in one scene in one paragraph, and in the next sentence being in a totally different time in a different scene.  This left me feeling somewhat disjointed, almost like watching an avant garde movie.  But perhaps I’m used to be being molly-coddled and having my hand held throughout other novels.

Overall I enjoyed Gee’s first novel and I look forward to reading the next one!