Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Book Review: A Perfect Book For Those Chilly Nights Ahead

It's hard to believe it's December already.  I think the extended fall lulled me into a feeling that it would last forever.  But, of course, it didn't, and a cold spell right before Thanksgiving ended all the garden work for the year.  Now it's on to the busy season--decorating, gift-shopping, and all the other activities that make the holidays an enjoyable, but hectic season.  Today is also the last meeting of the year of the Book Review Club, and I wanted to participate this month with a book I really, really enjoyed and think you will, too.  Because it's a busy time, I'll keep this review short.

Detective Constable Sadie Sparrow is on a forced holiday after some trouble handling a case of an abandoned child on her job at the Met.  Retreating to her grandfather's home in Cornwall, she can't let go of the case and continues to mull over what she might have missed.  One day, while on a run, she discovers an abandoned estate.  Sadie is intrigued by the beautiful but overgrown grounds of Loeanneth and becomes even more so when she discovers the reason it was abandoned.  Seventy years earlier, the young son of the Edevanes, the homeowners, disappeared without a clue.  Sadie is drawn to the story and begins investigating, hoping to find the answer to the cold case and provide closure to the remaining family members as well as restore her own self-confidence as an investigator.

Back in London, A.C. Edevane is at work on her latest mystery novel.  At 86, A.C., or Alice as she is known to family and friends, has had a successful career as a novelist and has a reputation for being independent and self-assured.  But she harbors a guilty secret, one that has bothered her for seventy years.

The first snow hit our area on Saturday, November 21.

 Like Morton's other novels, The Lake House jumps back and forth between the present and an earlier time period--in this case, the 1930's--when a young romantic Alice spends her days writing stories and secretly following a young gardener on whom she has a crush.  Loeanneth is an idyllic setting filled with the sights and sounds of a happy family, including the nature-loving father Alice adores, until the happiness is shattered by the loss of her baby brother.  In the present-day setting, Sadie and Alice's paths inevitably cross as Sadie digs deeper into the mystery.

Tiny crabapples make for a study in red and white.

The book jacket describes The Lake House as "multi-layered," and I can think of no better adjective to describe it.  Every character, it seems, has his or her own secret, including Sadie the detective.  Little by little, the secrets are revealed, but it isn't until the very end that all of them come together to provide a very satisfying conclusion.  While the reader begins to suspect what happened to the missing Edevane brother before that time, the whole mystery isn't resolved until the last few pages, including a surprising twist that I wasn't expecting.

Hydrangeas and coneflowers always look so much better with a dollop of snow.

Big thick flakes fell for a few hours, spotting the camera lens.

This is the fourth novel by Kate Morton that I've read, and I've never been disappointed--in fact, this one might be my new favorite.  After reading several crime/detective/spy novels before this, it was nice to read a good mystery without violence or evil villains, but with characters who believe in love, loyalty, and personal sacrifice.

The snow was gone in a few days, but it was magical while it lasted.

If you have a friend who enjoys mysteries, The Lake House would make an ideal Christmas gift.  Better yet, buy or check out a copy for yourself for those long winter nights ahead--you won't be disappointed!

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@Barrie Summy

As with all the books I review here, I received no compensation of any kind for writing this review and usually review only books I enjoy. I was lucky enough to be the first on the waiting list for The Lake House when a new copy arrived at my local library.