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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Lake by R. Karl Largent

This is the third book by Largent that I will have covered for the Blog. I think I enjoyed this one as much as Black Death, reviewed here. Though the Lake has a better ending. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Elliot is an author who is spending the summer at a lake house with the hopes of finishing a manuscript on time. The nearby town, Jericho, provides him some distractions like drinking with the locals and having an affair with the lovely banker lady Cyn. Towards the end of his time in town he hasn’t made much progress on the book and is further distracted by the news of a large twisted fish that was caught in Jericho Lake. That is just the beginning of the strange occurrences that threaten to cancel the Jubilee celebration that accounts for a big part of the town’s income. Can you guess what happens when they wait too long to close it down? Horrible things occur and many tourists die. Small towns and their festivals/vacation seasons never end well in horror stories.

I don’t want to say too much more because part of the fun for me in reading the Lake is that it wasn’t the book that I thought it was going to be. Sure enough it is a nature run amok story, but in a totally different way. I will spoil one thing… the giant man-eating fish aren’t the real problem! The way that Largent makes you think that is going to be the main thrust of the plot only to flip things around is skillfully pulled off. He takes his time and slowly reveals the real threat to the locals before ending it all with a bang. I have to say I was hooked.

Largent also does a good job creating characters that are well developed and interesting, for the most part. Though I did think the mayor, who is very important to the story, was a bit thinly fleshed out. But the more that I think about it the more I realize he isn’t the villain. Really in a way there isn’t a bad guy at all just an unfortunate series of accidents that leads to a whole lot of trouble. Back to the rest of the characters I rather liked them and that was important later on as being the kind of book that The Lake is many come to bad ends. If I didn’t like the characters that would have zero impact, so well done.

If you read my review of Largent’s Black Death linked in the first paragraph, you will know that my biggest complaint about that book is the cheery ending tacked on at the end. We get no such travesty here as it is sort of bleak. Again, I’m going to be a bit vague as to not spoil anything, but I have to say this book pulls no punches. The characters make a decision that while pragmatic isn’t very heroic. That might be my favorite part of the book.   

This is a fun read and is probably my favorite Largent book yet. I can see myself tracking down more of his work in the near future. That is if I can ever whittle down my increasingly large to read pile. I highly recommend The Lake.

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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