Bay of Fires

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Overview

Sarah Avery's reckless behavior has cost her a job, her boyfriend, and the independence she desperately craves. Reluctantly home for the holidays in the Bay of Fires, a tiny seaside town on the Tasmanian coast, she hopes for a calm, quiet visit, with time to reflect on all that's gone wrong. Those hopes are crushed when, early one morning, she discovers the body of a young female backpacker washed up on the shore.

A year earlier, another woman went missing and hasn't been seen ...

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Bay of Fires

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Overview

Sarah Avery's reckless behavior has cost her a job, her boyfriend, and the independence she desperately craves. Reluctantly home for the holidays in the Bay of Fires, a tiny seaside town on the Tasmanian coast, she hopes for a calm, quiet visit, with time to reflect on all that's gone wrong. Those hopes are crushed when, early one morning, she discovers the body of a young female backpacker washed up on the shore.

A year earlier, another woman went missing and hasn't been seen since. Now everyone wonders: is there a killer in the brush? Or were these women victims of Tasmania itself? The island is place of savage beauty: pristine sand beneath orange-lichen covered granite boulders; heaving shadowy kelp fields; sweeping cold currents; crackling bush beyond the seashore. It's also a landscape as flawed, vulnerable and vengeful as any human. Once its fragile peace is shattered, the locals' anxiety fuels a string of speculations about happened to the women - and who might be the next victim.

When journalist Hall Flynn arrives to investigate, haunted by recent failures and yearning for a fresh start, he's determined to do whatever it takes to break the story, and Sarah is his best source of local information. But Sarah - like everyone else in this close-knit town - has secrets she's desperate to keep hidden. And one of those secrets leads straight to a killer's door.

Haunting, evocative, as wildly atmospheric as the remote island where it takes place, BAY OF FIRES is a startling and wholly original debut.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
There is not one palatable character in Gee’s debauched murder mystery set on the Bay of Fires on Australia’s Tasmania coast, a clever way to ensure that each is a suspect in the deaths of two young women. Sarah Avery, home for Christmas after beating her boyfriend bloody and walking out on her job, finds the body of a young backpacker washed up on the shore. When she questions the disappearance of another young woman who went missing the summer before, she begins to mistrust the odd assortment of folks she’s known forever in her parents’ beach community: the nosy shopkeeper, the middle-aged vamp and her horny son, the weathered innkeeper who smokes too much, and redneck campers who return year after year. The investigative journo who shows up to report on the crimes is a middle-aged scaredy-cat, a terrible driver who has to be drunk to muster the courage to be with a woman. But he falls for our hard-drinking, tough-girl heroine and just might end up saving the day. Gee’s debut follows some shopworn formulas: lots of red herrings, dead ends, and suspicious behavior by everyone, including the village misfit who bears the brunt of the community’s fears. And there is a titillating whiff of sexual violence. It’s a testament to this writer’s diligent story building, however, that we endure so much blustery weather, spitting, vomiting, inebriation, slimy fish guts, and sand in the shoes to find out who done it. Agent: Julia Kenny, Markson Thoma Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Lisa Unger
"Beautifully atmospheric and superbly gripping, BAY OF FIRES is a stellar debut. Poppy Gee has a deft hand with characterization, and a clear, fresh voice. She brought me straight to the wild shores of Tasmania, and into the troubled heart of her heroine -- and all the while she had me eagerly turning the pages late into the night as she carefully tightened the screws of suspense."
Amanda Eyre Ward
"A thrilling murder mystery set on the coast of Tasmania, BAY OF FIRES is my favorite book of the fall. Poppy Gee's heroine is tough and absolutely winning. I've been handing this to all my friends, telling them to keep an eye out for wallabys."
From the Publisher
"Beautifully atmospheric and superbly gripping, BAY OF FIRES is a stellar debut. Poppy Gee has a deft hand with characterization, and a clear, fresh voice. She brought me straight to the wild shores of Tasmania, and into the troubled heart of her heroine — and all the while she had me eagerly turning the pages late into the night as she carefully tightened the screws of suspense."—Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of HEARTBROKEN

"A thrilling murder mystery set on the coast of Tasmania, BAY OF FIRES is my favorite book of the fall. Poppy Gee's heroine is tough and absolutely winning. I've been handing this to all my friends, telling them to keep an eye out for wallabys."—Amanda Eyre Ward, bestselling author of HOW TO BE LOST and CLOSE YOUR EYES

Kirkus Reviews
A close-knit beachfront community in Tasmania is threatened by a killer who might be one of the neighbors. Sarah, 35, a devoted fisherwoman and natural athlete, is staying with her parents at their "shack," or beach cottage, on the shores of the titular bay. Formerly a foreman at an inland fish farm, the hard-drinking Sarah left her employment after beating up her co-worker and lover, Jake. People assume she was the abused party, and she lets them. The action begins on Boxing Day at the height of Tasmanian midsummer. The badly decomposed body of Anja, a Swiss tourist, has been found near a tidal rock pool that is one of Sarah's favorite haunts. In fact, Sarah was the last to see Anja alive and now feels guilty she didn't tell her to avoid the rock pool, knowing someone had fouled it recently with fish remains. Hall, a grizzled reporter for a tabloid, is sent to Bay of Fires to investigate Anja's murder and its possible links to the earlier disappearance of another young woman. Sarah and Hall form a tentative attachment, but each is too damaged by previous relationships (his wife left him for his best friend) to make a definitive move, even after a drunken one-night stand. Sarah's ill-advised tryst with Sam, 17-year-old son of a rich American neighbor, further complicates her chances for a normal love life. Number one on the beach-dwellers' short list of suspects is Roger, an eccentric recluse. However, transient summer campers, a crayfish poacher, the ex-husband of a local lodge owner and even Sarah's university professor father are all possible culprits. But Gee's preoccupations are less with the mystery than with the psychological profiles of the members of this ingrown society, such that the whodunit is forgotten for long stretches. Despite graceful writing and well-informed descriptions of fish lore and seascapes, the plot lacks both momentum and menace. Tasmania's culture, flora and fauna are paramount here--the thriller aspect feels extraneous.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316201681
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 3/12/2013
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 5.80 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Poppy Gee lives with her husband, two small children, and cat, in Brisbane, Australia. She wrote most of BAY OF FIRES, her first novel, at the kitchen table while the children slept.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A mystery novel with an unconventional twist.

    I found Bay Of Fires quite a refreshing change from other stuffy mystery novels. In Bay of Fires you have Sarah Avery a free-spirited soul who loves spending her time fishing the beaches of the bay on the Tasmania coast. You also have a community of dysfunctional individuals who come together to spend their Summers on the Bay of Fires. And then there is the mystery of the young female tourists, one who went missing and the other who shows up dead and bloated on the beach.

    Upon arriving at the bay, Sarah Avery is looking for a fresh start and some time to get her thoughts together, on what may have happened between her and her boyfriend. Recently having broken up with him her wounds are still fresh. But when she finds a young female dead on the beach and foul play is suspected, her problems are placed on the back burner for a while, as she and the town ponder who the killer might be. Then as if Sarah doesn’t already have enough on her mind, a journalist named Hall Flynn shows up to do research and bring in a breaking story. Flynn has now given Sarah a new reason to forget her recent troubles but not her past secrets.

    When it comes to quirky characters this novel is full of them and their personalities are very intense and totally apparent. You can immediately relate to the love and hate relationship between Sarah and her sister, the mentally disabled town loner who is picked on and bullied. Then you have the town gossiper, a teenage peeping tom and lets not forget a group of trailer homies who spend their summers on the beach. With all the different personalities in the Bay Of Fires, I was left wondering what could possibly happen next, especially when every character you turn to seems to be harboring a secret.

    Throughout the story Gee makes sure to provide the reader many vivid details of the beautiful and unforgiving land in and around the Bay of Fires in Tasmania. Like a tapestry, Gee has taken the characters and woven that thread that makes them all unmistakably human. I don’t feel this novel is for everyone and I would only recommend this book to those with an open mind and looking for a mystery novel with an unconventional twist.

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    Posted May 6, 2013

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