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Crimson Lake #1

Crimson Lake

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12.46: Thirteen-year-old Claire Bingley stands alone at a bus stop
12.47: Ted Conkaffey parks his car beside her
12.52: The girl is missing . . .

Six minutes – that’s all it took to ruin Detective Ted Conkaffey’s life. Accused but not convicted of Claire’s abduction, he escapes north, to the steamy, croc-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake.

Amanda Pharrell knows what it’s like to be public enemy number one. Maybe it’s her murderous past that makes her so good as a private investigator, tracking lost souls in the wilderness. Her latest target, missing author Jake Scully, has a life more shrouded in secrets than her own – so she enlists help from the one person in town more hated than she is: Ted.

But the residents of Crimson Lake are watching the pair’s every move. And for Ted, a man already at breaking point, this town is offering no place to hide . . .

389 pages, Paperback

First published January 30, 2017

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About the author

Candice Fox

21 books1,644 followers
Candice Fox is the middle child of a large, eccentric family from Sydney's western suburbs composed of half-, adopted and pseudo siblings. The daughter of a parole officer and an enthusiastic foster-carer, Candice spent her childhood listening around corners to tales of violence, madness and evil as her father relayed his work stories to her mother and older brothers.

As a cynical and trouble-making teenager, her crime and gothic fiction writing was an escape from the calamity of her home life. She was constantly in trouble for reading Anne Rice in church and scaring her friends with tales from Australia's wealth of true crime writers.

Bankstown born and bred, she failed to conform to military life in a brief stint as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy at age eighteen. At twenty, she turned her hand to academia, and taught high school through two undergraduate and two postgraduate degrees. Candice lectures in writing at the University of Notre Dame, Sydney, while undertaking a PhD in literary censorship and terrorism.

Hades is her first novel, and she is currently working on its sequel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,449 reviews
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,109 reviews2,791 followers
July 2, 2022
Crimson Lake (Crimson Lake #1)
by Candice Fox (Author), Euan Morton (Narrator)

Former Sydney Detective Ted Conkaffey's life is in shambles. He was wrongly accused of brutally assaulting and leaving for dead a thirteen year old girl. After spending eight months in prison, but not being convicted due to lack of evidence, he's released from prison, a hated and "convicted by the public" man. He's lost his wife, access to his baby girl, his job, his reputation, his friends, his home, everything. Now he's renting a house in rural Lake Crimson and laying low, trying not to attract any attention, wondering where to go from here.

His lawyer suggests he introduce himself to local convicted murderer Amanda Pharrell (oops, I listened to the audiobook and thought her name was Feral). Private Investigator Pharrell has her own agency and could use a partner. Amanda is quirky although some might call her weird. She enjoyed her years in prison and she doesn't care what anyone thinks about her. She won't ride in a vehicle so the duo go everywhere with Ted in his car and Amanda on her bicycle. This unlikely partnership is hired to find a missing author who is most likely dead. but they are hampered by vigilantes trying to run Ted out of town and two local police officers that are violently harassing Ted.

The narration is very good and despite the darkness of both main characters' lives there is a lot of humor in the story. Ted has rescued a goose and her babies and the babies follow him around the house like he's father goose. Yes, around the house, Ted wants the geese to be safe from predators, human or otherwise, so the mother goose and babies get to stay in the house unless he's outside with them. Amanda rescued a mama cat who promptly gave birth to ten kittens so her office/home is also home to eleven cats. I liked Ted right away and it didn't take long for me to like Amanda, too. This is the first book out of three that have been published and I'm ready to head back into this crocodile and snake infested, swampy series.

Pub March 6, 2018 by MacMillan Audio
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,600 reviews24.8k followers
February 11, 2017
This is atmospheric crime fiction set in small town Cairns in Queensland, Australia. It is intricately plotted to weave in three separate murder investigations. Detective Ted Conkaffey's life falls apart when it is alleged that he abducted and raped a young girl, Claire Bingley. He is held in prison for some months until the prosecution drops the case for insufficient evidence. His wife has left him, he hurts from being separated from his baby daughter and the shock that no-one believes that he is innocent, including all his fellow police officers. He packs his bags, and moves to Cairns hoping his life can settle down from the horror he has experienced, which turns out to be little more than a pipe dream.

He is living by Crimson Lake, with the ever present crocodiles and rescues an injured goose he names Woman and her goslings. The geese give him a reason to pick up the pieces of his life again and he joins Amanda Pharrell PI, a convicted murderer, in the investigation into the missing celebrity author, Jake Scully. Amanda is a loose canon, both fragile and tough, with a terrific line in the outrageous, the comic and an irritating habit of conversing in rhymes. Her office is inhabited by an army of cats, and despite her different personality, her and Ted, the two broken souls, connect. It appears that Jake Scully has been killed and consumed by a crocodile but there is so much more to the story which Amanda and Ted delve into including obsessive fans, a marriage that seems to barely exist, and a troubled son, Harrison.

Two brutal and arrogant local cops abuse their power as they focus on Ted and make his life increasingly stressful and miserable, trying to break up his partnership with Amanda. In the meantime, Ted is driven to delve into the murder that Amanda has been convicted of. Amanda returns the favour by looking into Ted's crime, and is joined by Fabiana, a journalist who initially stalks Ted. Ted finds there is no escape from his past, as the local community lay siege to his home, with a lynch mob mentality, wanting him out and willing to do anything to achieve this aim. This is a closed community which harbours secrets, blackmail, corruption, and murderers in its midst.

This is a beautifully written story with a compulsive narrative. The characters are to die for, so complex and interesting, having to cope with extreme circumstances and even the minor characters are remarkably well drawn. The small town is populated with people heavy on judgement and mean of spirit. I particularly loved the goose and goslings with the growing relationship with Ted, just so lovable. Definitely hope this spawns a series, there is certainly enough material for it to do so. This is brilliant crime drama which I highly recommend. Many thanks to Random House Cornerstone for an ARC.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
March 20, 2018
4.5 stars for this one.

I've never been to Australia, but it's definitely a place I'd love to visit someday, and I find myself obsessed with all things Australian. I also think it's a terrific setting for books, particularly thrillers—there's just something about the dry heat, the wetlands, the bush country that seems unrelenting to me, which is one reason I've been drawn to books like Jane Harper's terrific series featuring Aaron Falk, The Dry and Force of Nature , and now, Candice Fox's Crimson Lake .

Ted Conkaffey was a police detective in Sydney—well-respected by his peers and good at his job, happily married with a newborn baby daughter. Needing to escape his house one afternoon after an argument with his sleep-deprived wife, he decides to take a drive and then go fishing. A random stop on the road to fix something in his car puts him in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he has no idea just how those six minutes will turn his life upside down, as he is accused of abducting and attacking a young girl he saw along the road that day.

Imprisoned for a crime he swears he didn't commit, his wife and his longtime friends and colleagues turn their backs on him. His release for insufficient evidence doesn't vindicate him, it merely frees him. With nowhere to go, and no one who believes he's innocent, he heads north to the wetlands of a small town called Crimson Lake. He tries to keep a low profile but it's not long before people figure out who he is and what he stands accused of, so he must defend himself from vigilantes and two dogged policemen who want to do him harm.

Through Ted's lawyer, he connects with Amanda Pharrell, a quirky, eccentric private investigator—and a convicted murderer, who served time for a gruesome crime when she was a teenager. The two team up to try and find out what happened to the author of a wildly popular book series which juxtaposed religion and young adult drama. It turns out the author had some secrets of his own, and there appears to be more than a few people who wished him harm.

As Amanda and Ted work their case, Ted isn't entirely sure whether Amanda was guilty of the crime she was punished for, and he can't stop himself from looking into it. Meanwhile, he continues to be taunted by those who believe he shouldn't be free, and those who don't like the idea of the two criminals joining forces—and some mean to do him, and perhaps Amanda, grave harm if they don't heed their warnings.

This is one of those books that hooks you at page one and doesn't let you go. It's taut, tense, and it packs quite a one-two punch of action and suspense. Ted and Amanda are both fascinating characters—you really don't quite know what to believe about either of them. Fox is a great storyteller, and she really makes you feel you're right there in the croc-infested wetlands with her characters, hearing the sounds of nature and watching your surroundings.

I had never read anything Fox has written before, but I was really impressed. I'm excited there's a second novel in this series due out soon, because I'm definitely hooked. There may be an unending supply of thrillers and mysteries out there these days, but Crimson Lake is one you should add to your list.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.
Profile Image for Liz.
2,019 reviews2,520 followers
February 10, 2019

I really enjoyed the premise of this book. Ted, a police officer, was accused of raping and leaving a young girl for dead. But after 8 months in jail and being deserted by friends and family, his trial was stopped when the prosecutor deems he doesn’t have enough evidence to secure a conviction. He leaves Sydney and travels to small town Cairns in northern Australia, trying to escape the haters. He teams up with Amanda, a convicted murderer who has her own detective agency.

This book does a wonderful job of delving into the guilty until proven innocent herd mentality. Ted is harassed by the cops, the press and the neighbors.

There are three different “investigations” going on here (the accusations against Ted, Amanda’s murder conviction and the missing person they’re being paid to find) and all three kept my interest. I enjoyed the characters of both Ted and Amanda. There are also some great minor characters here as well, and that’s not counting Mother and her goslings. The Australian countryside is as much a character as the people, with its “croc infested wetlands”.

Make sure to listen to the author’s interview. I loved hearing how she decided on having the geese in the book and where she got the inspiration for Amanda.

I listened to it and the narrator did a great job. I’ll definitely listen to book two in the series

Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,432 reviews811 followers
January 11, 2022
“Another passer-by in the dark. I wasn’t safe here. I ditched the car in the rainforest and walked through the bush to the mangroves, fumbling along in the dark, trying not to think about crocodiles. Spider webs caught in my outstretched hands and palms sliced at my forearms as I made my way to the gate.”

Ted Conkaffey is in strife. He did his time and has fled to a small town near Cairns in Far North Queensland to start a new life. I use the phrase “did his time” loosely. He was jailed as the most likely person to have kidnapped and attacked a thirteen-year-old girl he was seen talking to at a roadside bus stop.

But it’s not that simple, so he’s anxious to keep his head down and avoid recognition.

“My charge had been rendered ‘no billing’, meaning that the state could take it up again at any time, . . . They wanted me to slowly boil in purgatory, just above the fires of hell, hopelessly far from the clear, clean air of the earth.”

Boiling slowly is just the start. When Ted teams up with Amanda, a newly minted private detective (a tattooed woman who has “done her time” – not just for attempted murder, but for the real thing), Ted’s obviously not keeping as low a profile as he’d hoped.

He thought he could lose himself in “ a region stolen from the hands of time, a slice of bare-bones civilisation only just managing to fight back the rainforest trying to swallow it whole. Moss and vines grew on every surface they could manage. Along the rivers, broken-down houses with yawning doorways squatted in the bush, peering out, not a brick or patch of wood that composed them showing through their cloaks of lush leaves. This was a town where the bad things about a person’s life might be eaten up.”

But he’s running out of money and needs the job, so he might as well trust Amanda. She ranges from fierce to vulnerable and back again.

‘I’ve killed. You understand? I’VE KILLED. I know what it feels like to rip the life out of a body. '

He’s not sure he even wants to know what her obviously traumatising story is. It’s all he can do to cope with the heat, the growing malevolence around him from the cops, the community, and those crocodiles in the marshes behind his house and pretty much everywhere he goes. (It’s no joke, up there.)

Amanda’s got a wealthy client, Stella, who’s trying to find her missing husband. Whether he’s been kidnapped or just disappeared, nobody seems to know. Stella’s flirting with Ted raises the temperature some more and infuriates her teenaged. Ted can’t seem to help polarising people. They’re either vandalising his stuff or trying to save him.

And then there’s a bright young journalist who’s tracked him down, insisting she writes hard news, not features, but she’s quick with the camera and the snappy comeback to egg him on. She wants some headlines, all right.

Good characters, good plot, good story. If you ever get a chance to read the author’s own story do so. Her Sydney upbringing is crazier than the lunacy of the tropics in FNQ! I was worried her writing wouldn’t live up to her history, but I’m delighted to be wrong!

This is terrific – download the audio and enjoy! http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/...
Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,172 reviews615 followers
March 4, 2018
Ted Conkaffey, accused of the abduction and rape of a young girl, but not convicted due to lack of evidence, has run away to Crimson Lake, near Cairns to lick his wounds and try to start a new life. Neither his workmates, fellow detectives in the Drug squad, nor his wife believe he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now labelled a pedophile after serving eight months in remand, he has lost his job, access to his baby daughter and lives in fear of the case being re-opened.

In Cairns, he teams up with Private Investigator, Amanda Pharrell, another damaged soul, who served a prison term for murder. They are tasked with finding Jake Scully, a missing writer of popular fiction.

This is a very atmospheric book, from Amanda's colourful tattoos and costumes to Ted's cottage on the banks of crocodile infested waters, and the steamy heat of the tropics. As Ted and Amanda delve into Jake's background, his relationships with his family and his fans, they both become interested in finding out more about the other's cases although neither wants to talk about the past. Candice Fox has developed two great characters in Ted and Amanda. Ted the tough cop whose life has been overturned and must deal with local cops beating him up and vigilantes hurling bricks and abuse at his house but rescues and adopts an injured goose and her babies. Amanda is enigmatic - flighty and fragile at times but fearless and tough as old boots at others. I would love to see these two come back in a sequel.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,719 reviews12.8k followers
October 25, 2017
Candice Fox returns with this debut novel in her new series, sure to leave readers disturbed, yet wanting more. Ted Conkaffey has a decent life as a police officer ruined in eight short minutes. When witnesses place him in direct contact with young Claire Bingley around the time of her sexual assault, he is presumed guilty and tossed to the wolves. When, mid-trial, the charges are dropped, Ted is left with the pall of being labelled a paedophile and must pick up the pieces of his shattered life. Going into hiding, Ted is eventually approached by his solicitor to move to the northern part of Australia, where he might be able to help one Amanda Pharrell with her private investigations business. After relocating, Ted discovers that Amanda has a past of her own, having served ten years for killing a classmate. While Amanda does not hide from her crime, Ted remains incognito and seeks to hide from the prying eyes of those in Crimson Lake. Amanda explains that she has been hired by the wife of popular author, Jake Scully, to track him down. The story goes that he rose in the middle of the night and was never seen again. Forensics show that Scully may have ended up food for the local croc population, though it is unclear if this was a freak accident or something deliberate. As they dig deeper, Ted and Amanda must face the facts of their respective crimes and show drastically different ways of coping. When an investigative journalist from Sydney comes sniffing around, Ted’s cover is eventually blown and he faces new rounds of local blowback for his apparent crime. Professing his innocence, Ted continues to forge on with the case, which leads to the possibility that there may be a super-fan out there who is unhappy with the lack of attention Jake Scully has been offering. The small-town police force of Crimson Lake is less than happy to have their toes stepped on and with the news that a ‘kiddie-fiddler’ is in the jurisdiction, Ted and Amanda face a large uphill battle to crack the case wide open, while also learning more about one another. Fox does a masterful job in this novel and pulls the reader into the depths of her writing and the rural areas of Australia. Perfect for fans of Candice Fox and those who enjoy a slightly twisted crime thriller.

I discovered the wonders of Candice Fox when she first contributed to the popular BookShots short story series. From there, it was a rush to devour more of her dark work that sheds light on Australia and some of its more loathsome criminal element. Fox is able to touch on those taboo areas of crime without pushing the envelope too far, done primarily through strong characters and a descriptive setting. Ted Conkaffey and Amanda Pharrell play wonderfully polar opposites in this novel, allowing the reader to see two sides of the same coin. The development of these characters includes much backstory and synthesising of their personal struggles, giving the reader much to enjoy and wonder about as the story progresses. Supported by a number of others, the two protagonists propel the story along and keep these unnumbered chapters from blurring together. The primary case in the novel is not overshadowed by those from the protagonists’ past, though all three work well in some form to keep the narrative evolving. The reader is able to digest what is going on without becoming too lost in the minutiae of each subplot, though there is a keen question that permeates the story, leaving the reader to wonder what actually happened. Fox’s ability to juggle all this is masterful and should not be discounted as a key reason that she is top of her genre. Clean and crisp in its presentation, Fox lures readers in as a patient croc might do along the banks of Crimson Lake, striking at just the right moment and not letting go until all is said and done.

Kudos, Madam Fox, for keeping me curious as you prepare to release the second novel in the series. It has the makings for an equally powerful experience.

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
Profile Image for Dash fan .
1,463 reviews705 followers
May 19, 2017
4 ☆ Atmospheric and full of Suspicion

This is the first book I have read by Candice Fox and it won't be the last!

Crimson Lake is a story full of suspense, suspicions and mystery.

When Detective Ted Conkaffey happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time... He is falsely accused of the abduction and assault of a young girl.

Things go from bad to worse for Ted when he is put into prison pending investigation.

When Ted is finally released with not enough evidence the Branding is still hanging heavily over he's head and he's work colleagues and the town people are not willing to forgive... branding him a paedophile.

He's marriage falls apart due to the stress and he ends up losing he's daughter and hes life.

He has no choice but to get out of town where no one recognises him.

So he moves to Crimson Lake in the hope to maybe start again.

Unfortunately the past had a way of catching up with you.... things are no easier in Crimson Peak. He has the added pressure of the local police force.

It's here we meet Amanda Pharrell....she too has a very dark past....she is a convicted murderer!

However when the writer Jake Scully mysteriously disappears the two join forces to try and track down the truth!

The two of them are both equally intriguing characters.
Amanda has a dark past but it doesn't quite add up.... what isn't she telling Ted!
Ted can't resist delving into her past... but what is he about to uncover!

There are lots of stories being uncovered within this book, this is what makes it so intriguing and gripping.
You can't help but keep turning the pages as you want to find out the answers.
All the while leaving you hanging a little longer before the next feed of information.

I really liked Ted and Amanda, they make a great team. Both have issues, which seems to make them gel.
Amanda a bit of a lose cannon and Ted level headed. Perfect combination!

Crimson Lake has a very dark, Atmospheric  feel to it. It's the perfect place for a suspense thriller.
Candice has cleverly weaved the characters and stories together. Making this a truly addictive read.

I have to mention there is a fair amount of crocodile talk lol

Overall a clever, addictive, page turner, keeps you guessing till the end.

Highly recommend to readers who love Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Detective, Mystery books

I received this book from the Publisher in exchange for a honest and fair review via Netgalley.
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,095 reviews2,664 followers
March 23, 2017

After spending eight months in prison after being accused of thirteen year old Claire Bingley’s abduction and rape, then having the charges dropped through lack of evidence, ex-Detective Ted Conkaffey knew he needed to escape Sydney and everything it now represented to him. When he found himself in Crimson Lake near Cairns in far north Queensland, he thought he’d be safe. The dilapidated rental; the lack of material belongings – none of that bothered him and he found himself buried in a bottle of Wild Turkey night after night – until he rescued a wounded mother goose and her six baby chicks.

Ted’s lawyer pointed him in the direction of another damaged soul – Amanda Pharrell had spent years in prison for murder. Now she was a private investigator in Crimson Lake and when Ted went to see her, he was shocked to be hired as her partner in the business. Their job – to find the missing local writer, Jake Scully. But as the two miscreants investigated, it was obvious that people in the town were becoming aware of who Ted was…

The dark secrets surrounded various members of the town and Ted and Amanda found themselves in the middle of it all. What would happen to them with the vigilantes after blood? And would they discover where Jake Scully was?

Crimson Lake by Aussie author Candice Fox is a dark and disturbing crime thriller that seemed too multi levelled to me. I felt there was too much going on; an excess of crimes, bad guys and criminals which made it difficult to keep my head around. I know I’m in the minority with this one, but I found myself disappointed after the huge spin Crimson Lake has had.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital copy to read and review.
Profile Image for Rachel  L.
1,826 reviews2,186 followers
November 3, 2018
3.75 stars!

I read this for my local mystery book club and really enjoyed it. I am a character driven reader, and while the mystery overall didn't hook me, I loved the main characters and want to read more about them.

A former cop accused but not convicted of an abduction and rape of a young girl, Ted moves to the boonies of Australia hoping to hide. He gets a job with the local private investigator, a convicted murderer who has already served her time.

Did that hook you? It hooked me. I loved the dynamic between Amanda and Ted, lots of did she/did she not and back and forth like that. This book really makes you think about how being in the wrong place at the wrong time can possibly ruin your life forever.

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Profile Image for Suz.
1,096 reviews565 followers
November 20, 2018
Disgraced Detective Ted Conkaffey is on the run. On the run for some peace from a hellish crime he did not commit. Travelling to far north Queensland in the hopes of beginning to start some semblance of a 'normal' life. It doesn't take long for the locals to tweak to his presence, and we watch him try to grapple with the distrusting community and police constables that make his life hell. Acquainting himself with another burdened soul with just as much baggage and unusual background is Amanda, whom Ted forms an unlikely alliance, an alliance where a whole other adventure begins.

I did not feel entirely drawn to Ted as much as I should have, given he was the good guy, but I did like the quirky Amanda.

I enjoy this author's writing very much, but nothing can top the Hades series, in my honest opinion. I would still recommend this book. 3.5 stars, rounded up.
Profile Image for Lisa.
750 reviews
July 11, 2018
Ted Conkaffey is trying to get his life back in order after being accused of the rape but not convicted of Claire Bingley he settled in a town called Crimson Lake Cairns far north Queensland where the hot sun never dies down. He spent 241 days in jail & was on the drug squad, he met Amanda Pharral a for murderer who spent years in prison & now runs her own PI business. The residents of the town were not impressed with Amanda being there at all but when a body is found mutilated by a crocodile & a wedding ring is found.

Stella Skully reported her husband Jake went missing 3 weeks earlier the search takes them to Oaks beach Will they find him or has the harsh conditions of the rainforest destroy those who go there?


Well what can I say about this book as it has so many rave review oh well here I go firstly it was a atmospheric read & the connection between Amanda & Ted was plausible but I just could not get my head around a Detective in a drug squad 7 a murderer now a PI to me it just doesn't sit right. It was a very slow burn which I nearly DNF but wanted to see how it ended, I couldn't feel the suspense or the tension rise it just stayed at the same place I was very disappointed with this one as its the 2nd book by Candace Fox that I have given the same criticism maybe I am in the minority but obviously she hasn't learnt from previous books.
Profile Image for Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews.
1,914 reviews270 followers
September 15, 2017
*4.5 stars
Candice Fox first caught my eye in 2014, when she released her debut Australian crime novel, Hades. From that point onwards, I have found myself very taken with Fox’s work. It seems I am not alone. Fox won the 2014 Ned Kelly award for a best first novel for Hades. She backed it up a year later by winning the coveted Ned Kelly award again, this time for her second book Eden. Most recently, Fox has teamed up with none other than James Patterson, a world renowned writer in fast fiction thrillers. Crimson Lake is another addictive and murky crime thriller from Fox, marking the start of what I envisage is a new series for Fox.

The small tropical town of Crimson Lake, located in North Queensland, is the hideaway for former policeman Ted Conkaffey. Ted has recently lost everything that is important to him, his wife, child, career and most of all his reputation. It seems Ted was in the wrong place at the wrong time, which ended in him being on the receiving end of an arrest of a teenage girl who was viciously raped, attacked and left for dead. Ted is arrested and sent to jail for two years. Eventually, Ted’s case is overturned and he is released, but never acquitted from the crime. With the breakdown of his marriage and the loss of his career, a move to the secluded town of Crimson Lake seems like the best thing to do. In Crimson Lake, Ted’s lawyer introduces him to Amanda Pharrell, a woman with a background as troubled as Ted’s. Amanda is Crimson Lake’s Private Investigator. Together, Amanda and Ted form an unlikely duo and they soon become involved in investigating the disappearance of a local literary figure, at the request of his family. Ted and Amanda need to gather all the facts and evidence they can, in order to determine whether Jake Scully, the victim, met foul play or he simply chosen to slip away from public life. In investigating this case, Ted and Amanda’s backgrounds come into play, offering new possibilities for the final outcome of each of their cases.

If crime is your thing then you are in for a treat with Candice Fox’s latest, Crimson Lake. Within one compulsive novel, there are essentially three different crimes to solve. From the main character Ted’s wrongful conviction, to doubts surrounding the involvement of PI Amanda Pharrell in her friend’s murder and finally to the uncertainty over author Jake Scully’s possible suicide. Fox demonstrates her skill in being able to handle a number of crime based subplots that form one cohesive narrative. Each individual back story was as strong and compelling as the other.

The bedrock of the novel is Ted’s past and the resulting trauma he undergoes at not only being charged with the crime of a young girl’s brutal attack but also the jail time he receives and the huge loss he experiences in his personal life. Ted’s life is completely upended and Crimson Lake signals his chance at achieving a small sense of sanctuary from a world that has treated him unfairly. Fox employs flashbacks to reveal to the reader what happened that fateful day Ted was in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Ted’s story is one that gleaned much sympathy from me, I really couldn’t believe how a police officer could find himself on the wrong side of the law, due to circumstantial evidence.

I liked the interplay between the characters of Amanda Pharrell and Ted once she was introduced to the fold. I found it interesting that Amanda wanted to help exonerate Ted from the charges laid against him by thoroughly investigating his case on the side, without Ted’s knowledge. In the same instance, Ted’s interest in Amanda’s past and her reluctance to give a reason as to why she killed her friend as a teenager was just as enlightening to read. Together they make a solid pair. I enjoyed their interactions with one another and how they bounced off each other. It was a reminiscent of the leads in Fox’s Archer/Bennett series and it gave me hope that Fox will be continuing the relationship of Ted and Amanda in novels to come.

Fox brings us a unique and well versed setting in Crimson Lake. The small town is dripping in tropical warmth, which oozes off the pages of this novel. This tropical hideaway is accurately brought to life, through the skilled hand of Candice Fox. I felt the very strong presence of crocodiles, who ended up becoming just as menacing as the media who descend on the small town of Crimson Lake when they discover Ted Conkaffey is using it as his private hideaway.

The crime and mystery aspect of Crimson Lake was strength in this novel. The case that binds Ted and Amanda together in unity was a clever one and gave room to the inclusion of some intriguing side characters that brought more to this strong narrative. The themes of the criminal injustice, negligence, withholding or tampering with evidence and the push to get a conviction had me quite riled up to be honest. It will certainly leave a sour taste in your mouth and make you think again about the integrity of our judicial system, despite the fact that this is a crime fiction novel!

Candice Fox demonstrates yet again she extreme pull in the Australian crime fiction field. In my opinion, Fox is the leader in the pack in terms of thrilling crime fiction, with Crimson Lake proving to be a solid addition to Fox’s work. I have everything crossed that Crimson Lake is the first book in a continuing series for Candice Fox, as there seemed to be an open ending and a sense of things remaining unresolved for the enigmatic couple.
Profile Image for Gloria (Ms. G's Bookshelf).
591 reviews126 followers
July 10, 2020
⭐️4 Stars⭐️
A well written, compulsive and edgy crime thriller.

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox is set in the wetlands of Northern Queensland in a small town where snakes, crocodiles, cassowaries, heat, stifling humidity and unfriendly locals are in abudnance.

Ted is a former drug squad police detective from Sydney accused of abducting, raping and leaving a teenage girl for dead that was waiting at a bus stop. Ted was never convicted due to lack of evidence. He’s been driven from the life he knew to this tropical wilderness at Crimson Lake where he needs to escape the angry public and media. Ted’s also lost his marriage, his young baby, his friends and his career.

Working as a private investigator with ex-prisoner Amanda Pharell gets Ted out of the darkness and back into some sort of normality, his first investigation is the disappearance of a local celebrity author which they are led to believe has been taken by a crocodile.

A multilayered plot that is filled with action, mystery, suspense and fascinating characters. I especially loved the characters of Ted and Amanda. The next book in the series is Redemption Point and I look forward to reading that one too.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,844 reviews517 followers
April 22, 2018
This book has two complicated and compelling protagonists with more than their fair share of baggage. Former cop Ted Conkaffey was arrested for assaulting a young girl. He was not tried for the crime but he also wasn't exonerated. Ted wound up losing his job, wife and infant daughter. Amanda Pharrell was convicted of murdering a teenaged classmate and spent years in prison for her crime. Amanda and Ted are now both living in Crimson Lake and they team up as private investigators hired by the wife of a missing author. Ted knows he is innocent and misses his old life. Blunt, acerbic Amanda just wants to get on with the life she has now. Neither of them is exactly welcome in Crimson Lake.

There are a lot of puzzles in this book and the author very deftly managed to keep all of the mysteries up in the air simultaneously. In addition to the search for the missing author, Ted also searches for evidence to prove his innocence and tries to find out exactly what compelled Amanda to stab her classmate to death.

I liked both Ted and Amanda and I also liked the fact that not everything was neatly resolved at the end of the book. This book doesn't seem to have received the amount of attention given to other recent mystery/thrillers, and that's a shame. I enjoyed it and will probably read the next book in this series. The narrator of the audio book was Euan Morton and I had no trouble at all with his Australian accent.
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,602 reviews2,040 followers
May 13, 2018
This one started off fine but just didn't do it for me. I'm not usually much of a fan of the "everyone thinks I did a horrible thing" genre, this one in particular is so over the top in that respect that it was probably a given that I wouldn't connect with it. I stuck with this one only to see if the ending would renew my faith, but it didn't. I really, really didn't like the ending.

As a crime reader, I often differ pretty widely from other crime readers when it comes to straight-up-the-middle procedurals and thrillers. It is not uncommon for me to be meh on a book other people love and I still haven't figured out why that happens, but this is definitely one of those times.
Profile Image for Jenny.
1,670 reviews57 followers
April 27, 2017
Crimson Lake is about Detective Ted Conkaffey whose life was destroyed when he was accused of raping a young girl and Amanda Pharrell who was convicted of murdering a local Crimson Lake teenager. When Crimson Lake local Jake Scully went missing, Ted and Amanda joined forces to investigate his disappearance.

Readers of Crimson Lake will learn about the consequences to people when they are accused of something they did not do and how it affects their lives. Crimson Lake also highlights that you should not take a situation at face value.

Crimson Lake is crime thriller that is written well by Candice Fox, however, at times I had a hard time believing in what was happening. Also, I was disappointed by the conclusion of Crimson Lake I was hoping for closure on Ted's case.

I was disappointed by Crimson Lake. However, reading is a personal thing so I would say others will enjoy this book more than me.
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,938 reviews787 followers
March 3, 2018
Do you know what I need in my life? Redemption Point the sequel to this book. And I want it now, but I've heard patience is a virtue so I will have to wait. Anyway, this book is awesome. I mean a team of a convicted murderer working together with a disgraced police officer accused of the abduction and rape of a young girl? A crime Ted is trying to clear his name from. I'm always on the lookout for thriller series that are a bit different that doesn't follow the standard model and here I have found one that I really like.

Crimson Lake is a fabulous book, with two very different individuals trying to work together to solve the disappearance of a well-known author. Ted Conkaffey has fled his old life after the charges were dropped because of lack of evidence, not that it matters very much since pretty much everyone thinks he's guilty. His lawyer fixes him up with PI Amanda Pharrell, a convicted murderer since Ted needs a job. And, them working together is brings some lightheartedness to this dark and tragic story.

There are many things about this book I like, the weird (but sweet and funny) partnership, the atmospheric little town with the crocodiles lurking in the water, the mystery of the missing author. The geese and all the cats. *sigh* I really want the next book!

I want to thank Random House UK, Cornerstone for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!
April 29, 2023
So two of my GR friends, whom I trust, both raved about how good this was. I went into it hoping it would great.
It was great.
I gave this book 5 stars. The setting was fabulous. The characters were well done. They easily could have been card board and they were not. The pacing was spot on. The ending was dynamite.
Everything a thriller should be.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,719 reviews462 followers
November 16, 2020
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had a great time with this book! I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book a while ago and am glad that I was finally able to sit down and read it. I was hooked by the story from beginning to end. This was a fantastic start to the series.

The characters in this book were absolutely fantastic! Ted was a police officer before his life fell apart. Everyone believes that he was responsible for the disappearance of a child. He was not convicted but that has done little to sway public opinion. I could not imagine dealing with the things that Ted has been through and he really is at a low place at the start of the story. It was great to see him start working a case with his new partner which seemed to give him some purpose. Ted isn't even the most interesting character in this book. I was really taken with just about everyone who made an appearance on the page and cannot wait to learn more about Amanda as the series progresses.

The mystery in this book is very well done. There are actually three different mysteries being juggled in this story and I was equally invested in all of them. I had no idea how things would work out but I was eager to keep turning the pages to find out. There were plenty of twists and turns to keep things interesting and I loved the fact that there were quite a few surprises along the way.

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of mystery thrillers. I found this to be a very fast read filled with quirky characters and a trio of compelling mysteries. I cannot wait to start reading the next book in the series.

I won a copy of this book from Forge Books via Bookish First.

Initial Thoughts
I really liked this book! There was a lot going on and I was completely taken in by it all. The characters were fantastic and I was eager to learn as much about them as I could. The book is really juggling three different mysteries and I was equally invested in each of them. I cannot wait to dive into the next book in this series.
Profile Image for Howard.
1,176 reviews73 followers
May 4, 2022
4.5 Stars for Crimson Lake: Crimson Lake Series, Book 1 (audiobook) by Candice Fox read by Euan Morton.

This is a great story about two really unexpected main characters. The subject matter is dark but the beautiful Australian setting makes up for it. The interview at the end with the author adds a lot to the audiobook.
Profile Image for Purple Country Girl (Sandy).
150 reviews23 followers
April 29, 2017
I received a copy of Crimson Lake from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The life Detective Ted Conkaffey used to lead has been obliterated. Falsely accused of abducting and assaulting a young girl, Ted is grilled by his former colleagues like a criminal and then tossed into prison while a case is made against him. When the prosecution drops the charges for a lack of concrete proof, things do not improve for Ted - he is still branded a pedophile. His wife has left him and he has lost his job as a policeman. He is unable to see his daughter. He decides to pack up and relocate to Crimson Lake where he rents a dilapidated house complete with a fenced-in backyard to keep crocodiles out.

Unfortunately, Ted cannot hide from what he has been accused of and his house is vandalized several times. He spends his time alone with only booze and a gun for company. When Ted rescues an injured goose on the edge of his property, he takes her and her goslings in. Looking after the geese gives him some purpose but, after a visit from his lawyer, Sean, he gets a little more purpose. Sean tells him he should get in touch with a woman in town. He’s rather cryptic, sharing few details about this woman with Ted. Turns out she is a private investigator named Amanda Pharrell and...she’s a convicted murderer.

Ted joins Amanda on her latest case looking into the disappearance of a famous local writer named Jake Scully. He is still considered missing but assumed dead - the theories run from that he was either attacked by a crocodile or killed and left for crocodiles to “clean up” the crime scene. As Ted and Amanda investigate, they learn his marriage and family life leave a bit to be desired. As a celebrity, he has had his fair share of obsessed fans so they have to consider that a fan may have been responsible. They also learn Jake was leading a secret life as well. Could that have gotten him killed?

As they investigate, Ted is not only being harassed by the town that quickly realizes who he is but by two dirty cops who have made it their mission to make Ted’s life even more miserable - and also to apparently keep him away from Amanda. Despite all this, he is determined to find out not only what happened to Jake Scully but what really happened the night Amanda committed murder. Being a good policeman, Ted can’t help but research Amanda’s case and he finds things that just don’t add up. He has to know what really happened. Amanda refuses to discuss any details with him so he secretly investigates on his own. As for Amanda, she does not hide the fact that she is intrigued by Ted’s case and quite possibly is doing the same as he is, trying to find the truth about her partner’s supposed crime.

The characters and setting really make Crimson Lake stand out. Ted is definitely a broken man but his sense of right and wrong is in tact and the policeman inside of him refuses to quit. Amanda is an odd one, full of quirks but highly intelligent. The crocodile-infested setting is both creepy and fascinating. I feel bad for Ted and the constant threats he receives because of the accusations. No one will believe that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s quite infuriating to continue to see him persecuted repeatedly because you are rooting for him from page one. I'm glad this is going to be a continuing series because I really like this duo and can't wait to read more about them.
Profile Image for Rob.
511 reviews106 followers
December 20, 2018
Number 1 in the Crimson Lake series.
There's a lot to like about this book.
Two felons.
Felon one: Ted Conkaffey ex policeman, was charged with the brutal rape of a 13 year old girl but was released because of lack of evidence. This resulted in the destruction of his marriage and being refused access to his only daughter. In an effort to obtain some anonymity from the press and crazed vigilanties Ted goes to Crimson Lake, a small town in northern Queensland.

Felon two: Amanda Pharrell has spent 10 years, now released, in prison for the killing of a school friend.
Amanda, now, a full time private investigator asks Ted to join the team.

Amanda's current case is finding a missing person who just happens to be a world famous author. The missing author turns up well and truly dead inside a crocodiles stomach.
Was this an act of nature gone wrong or was there some malice aforethought?
This is the task that confronts Ted and Amanda.
Add two vindictive policemen to the mix and watch out.

As a character Ted has a lot going for him. I felt for his situation, the rejection of his wife and ex workmates, the hounding from the press and the ever present vigilanties. I felt a need for him to succeed.
On the other hand, Amanda drove me insane.

This is a fast paced, entertaining, if at time far fetched, in your face thriller.
I give this a 4 star recommendation.
Profile Image for Kylie H.
902 reviews
January 9, 2022
This is the first book I have read by Candice Fox and it certainly won't be my last. I really enjoyed the quirkiness of Amanda which balanced out the troubled soul that Ted is who becomes her investigation partner.
The book touches on child abuse, pornography and bullying. It also deals with an author who has disappeared without a trace.
There are three mysteries running in parallel, two are personal for the central characters and one is what brings them together.
Great plot with an intriguing setting, I can highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for LJ.
3,156 reviews313 followers
February 9, 2019
First Sentence: I was having some seriously dark thoughts when I found Woman.

Ted Conkaffey was tried for the rape of a teenage girl but was released when enough evidence couldn't be found to convict him. Now he lives every day with the fear of being re-arrested. Amanda Pharrell served eight years for murder, was released and is now a PI in Crimson Lake, Australia. When a wealthy woman hires Amanda to determine whether the woman's missing husband, author Jake Scully, is dead, Amanda insists that Ted help her with the case. What did happen to the husband? Is Ted really innocent? Was Amanda really guilty?

One of the best types of openings is one which intrigues the reader, draws one in and insists one follow without having any idea where the path will lead. It is also on which creates such a strong sense of place and character that one is immediately involved in the story. Fox achieves both goals.

Fox creates excellent visual images—"Moss and vines grew on every surface they could manage. Along the rivers, broken-down houses with yawning doorways squatted in the brush, peering out, not a brick or patch of wood that composed them showing through their cloaks of lush leaves."

It's the characters which compel one to keep reading. Interesting, unusual, well-constructed characters are a reader's dream. Fox makes that dream come true. Learning of Ted's former profession is a nicely-done twist. The more one gets to know about Amanda, with her set of rules, the more fascinating she becomes. Yet Fox doesn't ignore the secondary characters, especially forensic pathologist Valerie Gratteur. Although there are a lot of different characters, Fox segments them into the story so that one never becomes confused as to who each is.

While the characters are a strength, Fox doesn't ignore the plot. Periodic inclusions of anonymous letters which had been sent to the victim are a bit of a cliché and not entirely unreminiscent of the story "Misery," but they do cause one to wonder down what path they will lead, and the more we learn about the victim, the more interesting even he becomes. With the addition of the second thread—questioning whether Amanda really did murder her friend—and the third thread—Amanda not believing that Ted raped the girl--one is given a lot to consider while never losing track of each plot line. Fox does a remarkable job of laying out the primary investigation step-by-step while making us understand the trauma Ted and Amanda suffered from their individual experiences.

"Crimson Lake" has a very good escalation of suspense which may result in reading very late into the night. Ted and Amanda are a team of whom one wants to see more. This is a wonderful read with a perfect epilogue and ending.

CRIMSON LAKE (LicInv- Ted Connor (Conkaffey)/Amanda Pharrell– Australia-Contemp) – VG+
Fox, Candice – 1st in series
Forge – Mar 2018
Profile Image for Mandy White (mandylovestoread).
2,029 reviews528 followers
July 21, 2017
love a good Aussie book! and part of it was set in my local area at Mt Annan! i have just recently discovered discovered Candice Fox thanks to her writing with one of my fave authors James Patterson and she is definately now on that same list. this is a great book, great story and characters and i hope that there will be a 2nd book soon!!
Profile Image for Tammy.
935 reviews173 followers
April 15, 2018
How do you move on when the world won’t let you??
12:46: Claire Bingleystands alone at a bus stop
12:47: Ted Conkaffey parks his car beside her
12:52: The girl is missing . . .

An Aussie mystery(s) with superb writing, + a thrilling storyline! 4 ☆
I’m looking forward to reading the follow-up novel “Redemption Point” releasing May 17th. 👌🏻

Profile Image for NAT.orious reads ☾.
848 reviews339 followers
October 14, 2019
4 crimson-coloured ★★★★✩
This book is for you if… not one, not two and not even three crimes at once are enough for you. Be ready to dive into a thrilling book that features 4 cases.

Ok, so this book was a lot better than I expected it to be, hence the 4*-rating. Seriously, I thought this was another semi-genius free audiobook on Spotify, but what I got was, in fact, a genius telling of not one or even two, but in the end, 4 different crimes that are being solved throughout the course of the book.

This story illustrates smoothly that investigations about crimes that turn out to be fruitless do not free the suspect from carrying the burden of that crime, even though he is innocent. Formerly being a police officer himself, Ted Conkaffey has to learn that the hard way. A little girl went missing and turns up again abused in the most horrible ways possible. The little evidence that is found is used to Ted's disadvantages. A couple of months later, he is alone, without wife and daughter and tries to start new. But the people of Crimson Lake does not let him forget.

Who would have thought that he finds an unlikely ally in the infamous Amanda, a convicted murderer who spent a handful of years in jail for allegedly killing her school-mate and everybody's darling Lauren.

Together, they try to forget "their" crimes by investigating another: the disappearance of local star Jake Sully. His ring and a part of his hipbone turned up in the belly of a crocodile. But where is the rest?

Candice really knows how to build up multiple storylines at the same time and keeps the reader busy chewing their nails from beginning to end. Absolutely recommend this book and cannot wait for the follow-ups.
Profile Image for Ingrid.
1,208 reviews50 followers
April 7, 2018
2.5 stars
Although I recognise that this book is well written, I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. It certainly has its up moments, but there were many down moments as well in which I asked myself if I should read on or not. I won't go into detail as I don't want to spoil it for other readers.
Profile Image for Brenda.
725 reviews148 followers
August 27, 2020
The further I read this book, the stronger it became. The plot involves three cases, intertwined because the two main characters are a suspect (Ted Conkaffey) and a convict (Amanda Pharrell) who are investigating the third case as partners. Very well written characters. I loved Amanda! I’m eager to read the next book and will soon!
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