Wednesday, June 1, 2016

THE LAKE HOUSE by Kate Morton

Kate Morton’s novels are getting little too formulaic for me:  a woman in the present is attempting to unravel a mystery from the past.  Still, her novels are entertaining and not too challenging, so I don’t really have much to complain about.  In this case, Sadie is a cop, so that she has some experience solving mysteries, even though she is currently on leave from her job for blabbing to a journalist.  While spending her leave at her grandfather’s house, she stumbles upon an abandoned lake house and discovers that a child vanished from it in the 1930s.  Sadie then seeks out Alice Edevane, a sister of the missing child, who is now an octogenarian and prolific mystery writer.  As it turns out, Alice and both of her sisters blame themselves, for one reason or another, for their baby brother’s disappearance.   In other words, Alice’s family members, a former nanny, the handsome gardener, and the family friend who later committed suicide all seem to be candidates for killing the child or orchestrating his kidnapping, either intentionally or accidentally.  Morton is very adept at leading the reader on one wild goose chase after another, and we follow Sadie to most of these dead ends.  The author reveals countless Edevane family secrets, steering us to a series of possible conclusions that may or may not be plausible, depending on your opinion of the various characters.  In the meantime, Sadie has problems of her own, namely the one that got her banished from the force (justifiably or not?) and the mysterious letter that she returns to the sender unopened, but the Edevane puzzle is a welcome diversion from her personal tribulations.  So if you don’t like one storyline, there are several others that might be more appealing.  I was never bored with this novel, but I wasn’t exactly captivated, either.  Sadie is tenacious and smart and governed a little too much by her emotions, but how could I fully relate to a character who doesn’t like to read?  Still, Sadie’s more lovable than Alice the lovestruck teenager or Alice who bristles at revisiting a tragic event that she may have abetted.

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