Gone By Midnight, Candice Fox
When Candice Fox opened up GONE BY MIDNIGHT with a missing child and a sick goose I wasn't sure if I could go on. I mean a missing child is one thing, but a sick, possibly life-threateningly ill goose felt like one blow too many. (Don't @ me - they are both fictional and I'm very fond of my geese...).
If for any reason any of this is worrying any other readers then I would counsel trust this author, read on. Read on through the bullying stand over cops who arrive and take Ted Conkaffey into custody (arrest of choice with anything to do with kids it seems); through to his, and Amanda Pharrell's arrival at the crime scene; their inclusion in the search for the missing boy, much to the annoyance of the local top cop; their confrontation with a very angry policewoman out for revenge (you'll have to have read REDEMPTION POINT to get the full story); right through Conkaffey's much anticipated access visit with his young daughter; Pharrell's friendship with local bikies; and on to the point where you find yourself in a croc sanctuary and a swamp.
The third book in the "Crimson Lake" series, there's something glorious, addictive, clever and mesmerising about the way that Fox weaves a tale around the most oddly likeable of characters - Conkaffey, ex-cop, recently cleared potential child abductor and assaulter, father of a patrol of geese, a dog and a much loved young daughter; and Pharrell, ex-con, tried and convicted killer, private detective, cat lover, odder than an odd thing on an odd things night out; both of these people are real, genuine and immensely likeable - in a peculiar sort of way, because goodness knows there are times when they seem to not like each other all that much. The tale in this instance is the vanishing of a young boy, part of a group of friends / families all holidaying together - the kids playing together, locked in a hotel room, being checked on every hour by the parents, while they are downstairs in the restaurant having dinner, letting their hair down a bit.
The balance in these novels between the threat, the absurd, the investigation and the day-to-day is always elegantly maintained, and so it is in GONE BY MIDNIGHT. As Conkaffey balances the first visit of his young daughter, with the urgency of the need to search for the missing boy, there's moves, finally, to repair his relationship with his ex-wife, a relationship destroyed by the missing child case that saw him drummed out of the police force and hiding out in Far North Queensland in the first place. It's also a chance for Pharrell to establish the oddest of relationships with a local bikie group, and again, the reader is given plenty of opportunity to see the damage that was inflicted by the case that saw her end up in jail. It will help a lot if you've read both the previous books in this series (CRIMSON LAKE and REDEMPTION POINT) as the back-story arc here is pretty vital, and whilst Fox plays fair with potential new readers, there is much to the reasons why Conkaffey and Pharrell are what they are, and do what they do, that should be clearly understood.
GONE BY MIDNIGHT is flat out good, and if you've not read the earlier books, then you're in for a treat. Fox is a dab hand at this crime writing gig, in the opinion of this humble reader, one of the best we've ever produced.
They left four children safe upstairs.
They came back to three.
On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.
But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.
The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.
Now the hunt is on to find him, before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body...