Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve
“Wild places attract wild people” – a mantra which sits perfectly with the six characters of The Bay.
Zenna, who learned to love surfing in Cornwall, flies out to Sydney to be with her friend, Mikki, who is due to marry easy-going Australian, Jack. He meets her and drives her to Sorrow Bay, the bay of the title. Immediately, she becomes uneasy. Jack insists on her being blindfolded on the four-hour journey.
Upon arriving she is introduced to The Tribe, bonded by their intense love of the area and its ideal surfing conditions. The ocean rules their lives. The waves there are exceptional when the conditions are right. The Tribe consists of Sky, Victor, Clemente, Mikki and Jack and Ryan.
She soon realises that Jack is penniless and imagines he has designs on Mikki’s wealth. She is not seduced by his laid-back charm. With the growing conviction that she must prevent the impending wedding, she has deeper misgivings concerning the fate of backpackers who formerly visited Sorrow Bay.
Suspense and anxiety increase as the plot twists. Startling discoveries and Zenna’s conjectures lead her to suspect each of the tribe in turn.
Ryan is an outlier, an introvert and liar. Victor is quick tempered and tends to resort to violence while Clemente is calm until an event triggers an explosive reaction. The easy-going Jack cannot be trusted. Finally, there is the powerful leader, Sky, who is tough, uncompromising and physically strong. She displays a ruthlessness that projects a shadow of menace.
The atmosphere Allie Reynolds has created is intense with Sky’s insistence on rigid, risky even life-threatening training routines to strengthen the group mentally and physically.
Allie’s writing shows a knowledge of the ocean and its moods, as well as surfing technique, adding another dimension to the reality of life in Sorrow Bay.
She follows the classic pattern of crime fiction employed by such as Agatha Christie. A small group is confined in surroundings which mean at least one is the protagonist. Suspicion hovers on each in turn: all are capable of the crime; all have reason or motive.
In The Bay, brief chapters give insight into each character, a device that both informs and poses questions….and the interruption to Zenna’s quest to discover the facts increases tension.
Mikki is reluctant to be ‘rescued’ by Zenna, her loyal friend throughout. She has little inclination to return to Cornwall. She is bewitched by the bay and its waves, superior to those she surfed in England.
The drama escalates as the camp is struck by a cyclone. The shocking climax is made more dramatic by the backdrop of the raging elements.
Allie is a skillful snowboarder but now focuses on surfing in Queensland. Her latest book should appeal to the surfing fraternity and international readers who would be beguiled by the lifestyle portrayed and the thought of an Australian escape. It offers a picture of the demands and dangers of the ocean’s power and the attributes a surfer must strive to master.
The Bay is a clever psychological mystery with a backdrop that will appeal to many.
A gripping, entertaining read.
by Allie Reynolds
ISBN 978 073364 525 9