In my mind, there are few things as disappointing as a well-written yet mediocre story, and unfortunately, that’s what Poppy Gee’s Bay of Fires was for me.
The story is a mystery set in Tasmania, where two women have died over the period of a year, and a local, “troubled” woman becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth.
The writing is good — it’s quite good, actually. There is something very real and effortless about Gee’s style. She’s very generous, but not overly detailed, about describing life in Tasmania, and that’s really what pulls you through the story.
The characters are interesting, but after a certain point, a couple of them become predictable caricatures of small-town members that you may have read or seen in other media.
And lastly, the story: the plot is lackluster. I wanted to be surprised — this is a mystery, after all — but sadly, I wasn’t. I finished the book wondering what the point had been of reading it in the first place.
Gee’s work isn’t an absolute fail, but it could have been so much more. Over the years, I’ve really come to embrace Australian writers — there’s something gorgeous, moving and utterly unique about the stories they tell. I would highly recommend Tim Winton’s Dirt Music and, more recently, M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans, to see some truly brilliant storytelling from down under.
I guess we’ll have to see if Gee’s next effort is more up to par.