#1 New York Times bestselling author Candice Fox delivers a compulsive new crime thriller in Redemption Point.
When former police detective Ted Conkaffey was wrongly accused of abducting Claire Bingley, he hoped the Queensland rainforest town of Crimson Lake would be a good place to disappear. But nowhere is safe from Claire's devastated father.
Dale Bingley has a brutal revenge plan all worked out - and if Ted doesn't help find the real abductor, he'll be its first casualty.
Meanwhile, in a dark roadside hovel called the Barking Frog Inn, the bodies of two young bartenders lie on the beer-sodden floor. It's Detective Inspector Pip Sweeney's first homicide investigation - complicated by the arrival of private detective Amanda Pharrell to 'assist' on the case. Amanda's conviction for murder a decade ago has left her with some odd behavioural traits, top-to-toe tatts - and a keen eye for killers . . .
For Ted and Amanda, the hunt for the truth will draw them into a violent dance with evil. Redemption is certainly on the cards - but it may well cost them their lives . . .
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There were predators beyond the wire. I knew they were there, although in the months since I'd been released from incarceration I hadn't yet seen one. My evening ritual was to come down to the shore and look for the ominous rise of two dead eyes above the surface of the water, the flick of a spiky tail. Feeding time. Half a ton of prehistoric reptile lolling and sliding beneath the sunset-lit water, separated from me by nothing but an old, rusty fence. I looked for crocodiles every day, drawn to the bottom of my isolated property on Crimson Lake by the recollection of being one of them. Ted Conkaffey; the beast. The hunter. The hidden monster from whom the world needed to be protected.
I couldn't stop myself coming down here, though holding the wire and watching for the crocs brought up the comparisons, the dark thoughts, all those scary old memories of my arrest, my trial, my victim.
She was never far from my mind. Claire would come to me at the strangest times, more vivid than she possibly could have been when she first etched herself into my memory, standing there at the bus stop by the side of the road. Every time I thought about her, I saw something new. Gentle wind from the approaching rain tossing her almost-white hair over her thin shoulder. The glaring outline of her small, frail body against the blue-black clouds gathering on the horizon.
Claire Bingley was thirteen years old when I stopped my car beside her on the ragged edge of the highway. She'd stayed at a friend's house the night before. Her backpack was stuffed with pajamas, half-eaten bags of candies, a brightly colored magazine; little girl things that would in a few short hours be spread over an evidence table and dusted with fingerprint powder.
We had looked at each other. We'd hardly spoken. But on that fateful day, the backpack would stay by the side of the highway while the girl came with me. I snatched her right out of her beautiful little life and pulled her, kicking and screaming, into my depraved fantasy. In a single act, I ruined everything that she ever hoped she could be. If all my plans had come to fruition, thirteen would have been her last birthday. But she survived the fiend that I was. Somehow, she crawled back out of the woods where I left her, a fractured remnant of who she'd been when she stood before me at the bus stop.
At least, that's what everyone says happened.
Only half of that story is true. I did stand before the child at the bus stop that day, impossibly taller and broader and stronger than her, opening the back door of my car, watching her nervous eyes. But in reality, I'd only pulled over to shift my fishing rod off the backseat where it sat leaning against a window, tapping irritatingly on the glass as I drove. I'd spoken to Claire Bingley briefly, but what I'd said wasn't an invitation to come with me, a plea or a threat. I'd made some stupid comment about the weather. Cars full of witnesses had whizzed past us on the road, looking out, photographing us with their suspicious minds, knowing somehow that we weren't father and daughter, that something was wrong here. Premonition. I'd got back in my car and driven away from Claire, forgetting her instantly, having no idea what was about to happen to her. Or me.
Someone did abduct that little girl, just seconds after I'd been there. Whoever he was, he did take her into the woods and violate her, and he did make that awful decision, the worst a person can make — he decided to kill her. But she survived, too traumatized to know who the hell had done this to her, too broken to put anything much about the crime into words. It didn't matter what Claire said anyway, in the end. The public knew who'd done this. Twelve people had seen the child, seen me standing not far from her, talking to her, the back door of my car yawning open.
I'd heard the story of Claire's attack described to me so many times across my trial and incarceration that it was easy to see myself doing it. There are only so many times you can hear a lie before you start living and breathing it, actually remembering it like it was real.
But it was not real.
I'm not a killer or a rapist. I'm just a man. There are things I am, and things I used to be. I used to be a cop, a new father, a devoted husband. I'd been someone who could never imagine myself wearing handcuffs, sitting in the back of a prison van, standing in the queue for chow in a correctional facility food hall, a wife-killer in front of me and a bank robber behind. There had been only one little girl in my life, my daughter Lillian, whose existence on the Earth I was still measuring in weeks when I was arrested.
I used to read voraciously. I drank red wine, and I danced in the kitchen with my wife. I regularly wore odd socks and I often left beard stubble in the bathroom sink. I was an ordinary guy.
Now I was a runaway living on the edge of nowhere, looking for crocs, watching the sun disappear beyond the mountains across the lake. Wandering back up the hill, my hands in my pockets and bad thoughts swirling. When an accusation like that comes into your life, it never leaves. The story of what I had done to Claire Bingley played on and on, in the minds of my ex-colleagues, my friends, my wife, Claire Bingley's parents, and the barrister who prosecuted me before my trial collapsed; they saw it just as vividly as I saw it. An unreal reality. A false truth.
People passed the story on to each other in whispers as I walked into the court in cuffs. The media printed it. The television stations ran it. The story was so real that it came to me in flashes of light in the strangest moments — while I was showering, while I was sitting alone on the porch drinking Wild Turkey and watching the water. I dreamed about it often, woke sweating and twisted in my sheets.
I am not, and never have been, a pedophile. I don't find children sexually attractive. I never laid a hand on Claire Bingley. But that doesn't matter. To the world, I am a monster. Nothing was ever going to change that.
Working on my goose house seemed to drive out the darkness, so I went to the newly erected structure and stood before it, making plans. Around me on the sprawling, empty lawn seven geese wandered, plucking at the grass, muttering and clucking contentedly to one another. When one settled by my feet, her hunger apparently sated, I reached down and stroked the back of her soft gray neck, the feathers collapsing, weightless, until I felt the soft, warm flesh of her neck underneath. My geese don't think I'm a monster, and that's something, at least.
I never planned on being a goose daddy. I spent eight months in prison with no idea if I was ever going to see the outside world again, let alone what I might do if I was ever released. I didn't have a home to go to. Three weeks after my arrest, my wife Kelly had started to turn her back on me, the weight of the evidence against me and the pressure of the public opinion simply too much for her to withstand. I didn't make any plans for life after the accusation. I was taken to prison and I tried to survive each day there without going completely insane or getting myself killed. Then, without warning, three months into the trial proceedings, with my lawyer looking more strained and exhausted with every passing day, the Office of Public Prosecutions dropped the charges against me. The legal procedure, a motion of "no billing," meant that I was not technically acquitted. I was not guilty — but I was not innocent either. There simply wasn't enough evidence to ensure I would be convicted, so they decided to let me go until new evidence could be acquired, if any ever surfaced. With the knowledge that I could be re-charged at any time, I was sent out into a hateful city. I went home, packed my things and fled north on nothing more than the instinct to hide and terror of the public's revenge. Kelly wasn't at home when I left. She refused to see me. I had to borrow a car from my lawyer.
Not long after I'd arrived in Crimson Lake and rented this small, beat-up house, a mother goose with a broken wing had showed up and interrupted my sunset drinking, squawking and flapping on the other side of the wire — the croc side. It was the first time in more than a year that I'd laid eyes on a creature more helpless than myself. The three-foot-tall, snow-white Anser domesticus, which I named Woman, had six fluffy chicks trailing behind her, just begging something slippery and primordial to emerge from the dark waters of the lake and snap her up. Since then, Woman the goose and her babies and me had lived together on the edge of the water and tried to heal.
Her babies had grown up quickly, and these were the creatures that surrounded me now as I assembled their new living quarters, approaching at times, examining my bare feet in the lush grass or pecking at my pockets where I sometimes kept grain pellets. Watching, their beady eyes following my hands as I pushed the screws into the corrugated iron roof of the playhouse.
Yes, instead of a proper goose coop, I'd acquired a children's playhouse. Not the most sensible idea for a notorious accused child rapist living in hiding with no children at home. I'd found the playhouse online, free to whomever was willing to come and pick it up from the nearby town of Holloways Beach. I'd scrolled past it at first. It was a dangerous idea. Vigilantes and gawkers had learned of my presence not long after I arrived in town, and they still drove by my house every now and then, curious about the man who'd somehow escaped justice. And one in three times when I opened the front door to a knock, it was a journalist who greeted me, notebook and pen thrust out like guns. All it would take was for one of these people to spy the playhouse in the backyard to bring the press and the public mob to my front door, pitchforks in hand, once more.
But money hadn't exactly been in abundance, and the playhouse was free. A genuine goose coop cost anything from $1,200 upward, and all I really needed to do to the playhouse was remove the floor and replace it with wire, and build a ramp to the entrance for Woman and her young. Since I'd found them, the family of geese had settled on the porch of my small, barren house, and I liked to sleep out there on the couch sometimes when the night was hot and loud with the barking of crocodiles and the cry of night birds. More than once I'd been awakened at dawn by the sensation of a goose beak foraging for bugs in my hair. Sometimes the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes in the morning was a curious bird-face inches from mine, waiting for me to hand out the breakfast pellets. Something had to give.
I squatted in the grass and swept away some of the cobwebs from under the playhouse, tested the base with my fingers. I would cut it out with a jigsaw, staple a sheet of wire across the bottom, then fit a steel tray I could unhinge and spray out to keep the house clean. The construction of the cubby was solid and would protect the birds from the foxes and snakes that sometimes made guest appearances around the property, preying on waterhens down by the shore. I went to the front of the playhouse and opened the shuttered windows, tore down the moldy curtains that some kid had probably spent many years enjoying drawing against the outside world, closing their little house off in privacy for their games. Playing house. My daughter might have enjoyed a playhouse like this. She was going to be two years old in a week. I couldn't remember the last time I'd seen her in person, held her, warm and wriggling, against my chest.
"I'll tie these up for now," I said, pushing the shutters closed on the windows, showing the geese as the chipped wooden frames clicked into place. "But eventually I'll probably put locks on. You can have them open during the day. You lot are sleeping in here tonight." I pointed, stern. "You're not sleeping with me. It's getting weird."
Woman, the only white goose, wandered close at the sound of my voice and tilted her small head, eyeballing me. I reached out to pat her but she swung her head away as she usually did, muttering. She'd never been very affectionate, but I'd never stopped trying to win her over.
"Two shelves for roosting." I showed her, leveling my hands halfway up the house, mapping out my vision. "And I'll put in some of that straw you like. Snug and safe, the lot of you. It'll be grand — probably grander than you need, but I'm a nice guy. What can I say?"
I shrugged, looked for an answer. The goose looked away.
I talked to my geese all the time. Particularly Woman. I recognized that I had started doing it at the same time as I realized it was too late to stop. I talked to her like a wife. Updated her about things I'd seen while out and about in the town, chatted to her absentmindedly, let her in on my thought processes. I would talk to the bird through the screen door to the kitchen while I cooked dinner, throwing things into the pot on the stove, the bird settled on the porch just outside the door, preening. I'd heard that lonely people talk to themselves. I'm not sure I was lonely, exactly, but I sorely missed having a wife. Kelly used to sit at the kitchen table when I was cooking, drinking wine, flipping through magazines, as disinterested in my ramblings as the regal mother bird. You can talk to people in prison, of course; there are no rules against it. But the guards will invariably answer you in single words until you give up and go away, and I was housed in protective segregation because of the nature of my charges. The inmates in my pod were mostly pedophiles, and pedophiles rarely come into the company of others of their kind in the outside world. So they like to talk about what they have in common. A lot. The only feedback I ever got from the geese was questioning looks and indecipherable bird babble — but I never had nightmares about that.
I left the geese and went up the stairs to the porch and into the kitchen. There were cable ties in the bottom drawer beside the sink, left over from some running repairs I had done when I moved into the old house. Deciding I'd use them to secure the windows of the cubby, I crouched and rummaged around in the clutter for them.
I was just slower than my attacker had anticipated as I rose up. If he'd been on point, he'd probably have killed me. But the wooden baseball bat whizzed over the top of my head and smashed into the wine bottles lining the windowsill, spraying wine and glass everywhere.
Emotion whipped up through me, an enormous swell of terror and anger and shock that seemed to balloon out from under my ribs and sizzle down my arms and over my scalp. There wasn't time to shout out, ask questions. A man was in my kitchen and he was swinging at me viciously with a baseball bat, my own bat, a weapon I'd been keeping just inside the front door to threaten the vigilantes with. He swung again and got me in the upper arm. The pain blinded me. I put my hands up as a reflex. The bat was coming again. I couldn't see my attacker. It was happening too fast. Shock of blond hair. Dark eyes. I bowed and threw myself at his waist.
We crashed into the dining room table and chairs. Ridiculously logical thoughts started zipping through my brain, caught and pulled down randomly from the whirlwind. The geese were screaming in the yard. The lights were on, and I hadn't turned them on. There was blood on my hands. The man had hit me in the face and I hadn't even felt it. I was yelling "Fuck! Fuck!" and he was saying nothing, determined only to hurt me, to bring me down.
He wasn't bigger than me. Not many people are. But there was a fury in him so hot and wild, he had all the impossible strength of a cornered animal. His anger would trump my desire to survive in this struggle. I knew it, but I kept fighting, kept growling, kept trying to get ahold of any part of him, his shirt, his hair, his sweat-damp neck. He dropped the bat. I pinned him and he bucked and I fell against the cupboards. His fist smashed into the side of my head from low down, a full-arm swing up and into my temple. The floor smacked my face. Hands around my throat, a tight band of fingers crossing my windpipe. I didn't even have time to fear that I was going to die. I grabbed at his knuckles and then passed out.
* * *
The sound of the geese woke me. They make a peeling, squealing kind of distress noise, a screaming punctuated by deep, growling honks. I remember thinking as I lay on the floor of my kitchen and listened to them that the sound meant that they were still alive, and that was all that mattered, really. I was lying on my front with my hands at the small of my back. As I shifted, I felt one of the cable ties I'd pulled from the bottom drawer around my wrists let a little blood flow into my numb fingers. Prickling, stinging. A black boot passed near my face.
He was raiding my house. I've been raided a few times since all this began, my house turned over by Crimson Lake cops with a grudge. I've come to recognize the sound of it. A crash, the whisper of papers sliding across the polished wood floor. A drawer clunking as it's wrenched from the dresser. I looked around. All the kitchen cupboard doors were open, smashed cups and plates, Tupperware containers on the floor. Wine everywhere, running down the cupboards like thin blood. One of the chairs was broken. He'd started here, moved from room to room. I tried to shift upward, assess anything broken or bent inside me. Everything hurt in equal measure.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Redemption Point"
Copyright © 2018 Candice Fox.
Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Forge Books by Candice Fox,
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Another good Ted and Amanda story but not as good as the first. Was disappointed on the resolution of Ted’s own situation. I also thought it read as two different stories—one the crime Amanda was trying to solve and Ted’s pursuing of the charges against him. Still, if there is another Crimson Lake novel, I’ll be sure and read it.
Never assumed it was necessary to write review on a book that i found memorable; grear book, did not want it to end-characters were so very interesting and human-plot was excellent-Candace Fox does not need James Patterson-So looking forward to next part of series-thank you for your talent
This is the second book in the Crimson Lake series. First off, I didn't like the diary entries by Kevin. I know there was a point to them, but I felt they broke the flow of the story. Ted is a likable guy with a family of geese. The "Innocent Ted" followers are in the background and I like that he has some support. Ted stays strong when everything is falling apart and his main concern is always about his geese. Amanda is quirky. I love how her perspective of everything is so different from anybody else. She can see one thing, for example a thong in a laundry basket, and know that there was an affair. Ted is a falsely accused sexual predator. When Dale, the father of Ted's "victim" visits Ted he starts investigating the case. Meanwhile, two bar workers are murdered and the father of one of the victims hires Ted and Amanda to find the killer. This book started out slow for me, but 1/2 way through, I couldn't put it down. All the stories were coming together, and coming together fast. 4 stars because I had a hard time reading more than a chapter or two at a time in the beginning.
I received both books in this series from BookishFirst. Thank you to them and the publisher. All opinions are my own. I really didn't know what to expect with this series as it seemed like quite a few other thriller/mysteries but I was pleasantly surprised. I loved both books and cannot wait to read the next installment. I read the first in the series Crimson Lake and was instantly invested in all the characters. I loved the writing, it was very atmospheric and kept me engaged. The second book Redemption Point was just as engaging and thrilling. There are lots of surprises and the ending was really interestingly done. I love how the story is not just focused on one thing but in fact there are many moving parts which really kept my interest piqued through both books. I would tentatively compare this to the Aaron Falk series by Jane Harper as they both take place in Australia and the writing and atmosphere are similarly charming and sometimes quite dark. I would definitely recommend this series!
I absolutely loved this sequel! The characters are worth reading about and feel like friends after a while. I really was interested in seeing what happened to Ted through it all and the Amanda is also such a great character! This is really such a great series! There are so many different crimes to solve but yet, not so many that you get confused. Candice Fox does a great job writing and keeping everything separate. I never once lost track of who someone was or what they were trying to do. And most of the time, I don't see where it's headed. There are some twists and loops thrown in there. Ted and Amanda are such great characters and this time we also got to know Pip Sweeney who is the new lead investigator. I really recommend this series!
This was my first Candace Fox book, and I'm not gonna lie, I was a little nervous reading book 2 of a series before reading book 1. I quickly realized that I had nothing to fear. The author did a fabulous job of quickly filling in the reader so you knew how the main character Ted wound up in the predicament he was in. This was a fast paced, heart pounding mystery that kept me completely enthralled throughout the book. An innocent man trying to clear his name of a horrific crime he was accused of committing. He was ostracized, harassed, stalked and beaten due to this accusation. The entire time he's fighting to clear his name, the author slips in very disturbing pages from the diary of the real perpetrator. Amazing! Planning on going back and reading book 1 now!
I received an ARC of this book, thank you. I was hooked on the first book in this series, Crimson Lake, and couldn't wait to get a crack at the next one. It more than lived up to expectations, I'm happy to say. The main character Ted, a former police detective, is still trying to cope from the cruel injustices inflicted upon him in the first story. He and his business partner, Amanda, a young woman with injustices of her own from her past, form an unlikely but dynamic duo as private investigators. While Ted is the focus in the series, I find Amanda more and more fascinating in her own right. She's the proverbial puzzle wrapped in an enigma. This time out, Ted and Amanda are called to a crime scene at a dive bar in a rural part of town where two young workers were killed in what at first appears to be an attempted robbery. As they investigate the murders on behalf of one of the victim's parents, they begin to piece together what really happened. While all this is taking place, Ted is still under scrutiny as a possible suspect in a young girl's abduction and assault. He is trying to deal with the girl's violently aggressive and angry father, an online forum of Ted Supporters who believe in his innocence, the media who are constantly ambushing him, and not the least, his estranged wife and young daughter. The author has a real talent for making you empathize with Ted and Amanda, as well as other secondary characters in this story, who are fully formed and brought to life vividly. You don't feel as if you are reading a book, more like you've been plopped down in the middle of someone else's life story. My one quibble is the violence which the central (and sometimes peripheral characters) suffer at the hands of others - I hope it doesn't become a pattern as the series continues. Other than that, this series is a gem and I highly recommend it.
This review is for both Crimson Lake and Redemption Point by Candice Fox. I went into these books thinking they would be your typical thriller/murder mystery books, but they were much, much more! Honestly, these books are some of the best I’ve read from the thriller genre. Ted is a cop wrongly accused of a serious crime. Amanda is a weird a quirky ex-con turned private investigator. The two team up and make the PERFECT odd couple. At first I found Amanda a bit annoying but a few pages in I really started to like her and quickly found her hilarious! Ted is just an all around nice guy who you can’t help but love. Candice Fox did an amazing job writing these books. Set in Australia, the plots are unique and fast paced. There are multiple story lines in each book. All the characters are very colorful and the reader immediately gets sucked in to their lives and activities. I’m going to be ordering book three and I’m hoping that there will be many more books in this series! Ted and Amanda are a riot and I can see their adventures continuing!
While Crime/mysteries are not my usual genre, after reading a First Impression on Bookish.com, I was hooked and then luck enough to win a copy. This is my unbiased and voluntary review. Captivating characters, a provocative and skillfully written narrative, make this a hard to put down page turner. It is best to read Crimson Lake first. In that book, Sydney drug squad detective, Ted Conkaffey, was falsely accused of a brutal rape of a young girl. But as there was no forensic evidence, only circumstantial and hearsay, he is released from prison after 8 months. Meanwhile his colleagues, friends and wife have turned their backs on him, believing the lies. The only one who believed in him was his lawyer, who set him up with a PI, Amanda Pharrell, in a small town, Crimson Lake. While they solved a crime together and he proved that she had been falsely imprisoned, he has also picked up others who believe in him, included a coroner, who also acts as his doctor and a journalist, who came out to snag an interview and left believing in him so much, she started a podcast, Innocent Ted, to prove his innocence. And he becomes a goose daddy. This volume starts with the father of the victim, tracking him down, invading his home and almost killing him, until Ted convinces him that he has a lead on the real pedophile. While he and Amanda have a new case to solve, he needs to return to Sydney for a supervised visit with his daughter and an interview on Stories and Lives, where they try to sabotage his reputation even more with another false accusation. But he also finds that the drug lords, who he put away don't believe the charges against him and seek to protect him. Can he help Amanda solve the murders in Crimson Lake while also following the leads to prove his innocence by tracking down the real pedophile before he strikes again?
When I had only read one page of the book, I was unsure that I wanted to read a a book about a pedophile; however, I am glad that I continued. The subject matter is handled well and focuses on the adult characters and avoids unnecessary details about the young victim. It is easy to understand how Ted Conkaffey's life is ruined after he is accused of the evil behavior. His life as a father, husband, and a drug squad policeman are over, yet he has an unusual ally, another outcast - a young woman who was a murderer herself. There does not seem to be any way for Ted to clear his name, and so as might be expected, he relocates to a remote location and goes by the different last name of Collins. Equally understandable though is the desire for revenge on the part of the young victim's father, and this is where the author leads the reader on some unbelievable twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing with interspersed diary entries. The suspense never lets up. This book is actually the second one in a series, and although I received both books as ARC's, I happened to read 'Redemption Point' first. I was curious to see if the book would make sense as a stand-alone novel, and it definitely does. This is my honest review after reading the ARC.
Society outcasts Ted Conkaffey and Amanda Pharrell are back in the second Crimson Lake novel by Candice Fox. Ted is as conflicted as ever and Amanda is as unconflicted as ever. The first book in the series focused more on a crime the two were trying to solve, while Ted was investigating the situation that led to Amanda's arrest for murder on the side. This time around, even though the two are supposed to be working on the murder of two young bartenders that were having an affair, Ted's case ends up being the primary case in this book, in spite of his reluctance to have it resurface. With Ted in Sydney for a decent part of the story, newly promoted detective Pip Sweeney steps in as a partner of sorts with Amanda. This book is still good, but I miss the bickering and chemistry between Ted and Amanda, and it doesn't feel like the ending is as unexpected as the first book in the series.
This is the first book I’ve read in this series. Thank you to the publisher, author and BookishFirst. This is my honest and humble opinion. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive the two books until two days ago so I only had time to read this one. But I still understood what was going on. I feel so bad for Ted. Being married to a policeman for 27 years, I see the inner demons they live with and can only imagine what Ted must feel like knowing he is being wrongly accused, especially for a crime such as that. But he is still going strong fighting crime. Amanda is an interesting character, to say the least. I really liked her and think she brought a lot to the table. She was amazing. After reading reviews others have written, I can’t wait to read the previous book in this series. Sounds like an exciting read. For some reason, this reminds me of Patricia Cornwell. I loved it!