Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox is the third book in a crime series set in far north Queensland. I read the first book Crimson Lake earlier this year and absolutely love it, so went on to read the second book Redemption Point. I recommend that you start with these two books before reading Gone by Midnight. But it can be read as a stand-alone book if you want to. Just realise that there will be spoilers from book one and two in it.
This crime series is set in the fictional far north Queensland town of Crimson Lake near Cairns. It follows disgraced ex-cop and falsely imprisoned Ted Conkaffey, now turned Private Investigator, and his convicted killer and eccentric partner Amanda Pharrell. Amanda is quirky, heavily tattooed, has no filter and is a brilliant investigator. Ted is a more by-the-book investigator, but his life has been changed forever after being jailed for a heinous crime he didn’t commit which turned him into one of the most hated people in Australia. In Gone by Midnight he is trying to live a normal life, do his job, and look after his small daughter on her first approved visit to stay with him. His ex-wife is visiting a wellness retreat nearby.
But things never go smoothly for Ted and the arrival of his daughter coincides with a missing child case that has left the entire Cairns police force stumped. An eight-year-old boy has disappeared without a trace from a hotel in Cairns. He was left alone with his three young friends while the parents of the children dined in the restaurant downstairs. Every hour the parents went up to check on them. But the last time they checked, Richie had gone missing. The boys swear they stayed in the their room all night and CCTV doesn’t show Richie leaving the building. So, where is he?
The boy’s mother Sarah turns to Ted and Amanda to find out what happened to Richie. But they are both not the favourite people of the local police force, so their job is made even more complicated.
I love Candice Fox books because they are so unpredictable. I always have ideas about what’s happening, only to be surprised by the twists and turns. I saw Candice give a talk recently on this book and she said part of the plot was inspired by the Madeleine McCann mystery. There’s always an element of “this is something that could happen in real life” in these books. I also love the partnership between Ted and Amanda. Unlike many other books with a female and male duo, there’s no hint of anything but friendship and respect between them. Amanda is a slightly crazy character. You wonder how she would get away with how she talks and acts in real life. But I still think she’s a great character. She’s certainly not boring.
The other star of this series is the far north Queensland location. It’s hot, sticky and full of crocodiles. Like in Jane Harper’s crime novels, the Australian landscape is a great backdrop in this series. If you love crime fiction, I highly recommend this series. Candice Fox is an amazing writer and I always devour her books. She also co-writes books with James Patterson which also shows what a talented writer she is.
Verdict: Another compulsively readable crime thriller from Candice Fox. I highly recommend giving her books a try!