Tasmanian-born author Poppy Gee's debut could not have been better. Set in the Bay of Fires National Park on the east coast of Tasmania, Bay of Fires centres on the community of holiday makers who flock to the popular camping spot every summer and how the discovery of a young woman's body washed up on the beach impacts on them. In a tiny close-knit community like this, gossip is bound to spread like wildfire and soon, everyone is fingering the person they like the least as a possible killer. Throw in an investigative reporter, Hall Flynn, and the mix gets even more volatile as personal secrets fly out of the closet.
Gee, a former journalist for Sydney-based newspaper The Village Voice and book reviewer for the Courier Mail, has created something of a Mikael Blomkvist-like figure in Hall Flynn, whose editor has sent him down to the Bay of Fires to investigate the recent grisly find. Like his Millennium trilogy counterpart, Flynn leaves no stone unturned in the course of doing his job. Both Blomkvist and Flynn also have a weakness for getting too emotionally involved with their subjects, which ultimately result in them screwing up their assignments big-time. In Bay of Fires the conflict between commercial and public interests is highlighted, something a media industry veteran like Gee would know well enough.
Trouble in paradise: Secrets fly out of the closet as a close-knit beachside community turns on itself when the body of a young woman is found literally in their backyard.
Although there are less twists and suspense than Stieg Larsson's Millennium novels, Marie Claire USA could not help but place Bay of Fires alongside The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Gee has definitely provided us with a thriller, albeit one where nobody is in much danger although there is at least one suspicious death occurring in the course of the story. If you have loved Western Australian Felicity Young's A Certain Malice, you are bound to love this one. After all, both novels contain a strong hint of local flavour, one from regional Western Australia, the other from Tasmania's east coast.