The Lake House
by Kate Morton
2015/ 512 pages
read by Caroline Lee 21h 24m
rating: B / historical crime-romance (literary?)
Morton has 6 books out now, a couple of them have been best sellers and she has a strong fan base. I’ve been tempted ever since The House at Riverton (2007) because, going by the blurbs, the novels sound like suspense-filled mysteries, but for some reason I’ve been put off. Perhaps the narrator is a bit difficult for me to understand easily – a strong British accent (to my California ears). Anyway, after seeing several exuberant posts about the book on a couple of my email lists, I succumbed.
The frame story involves Sadie Sparrow in 2003 as she investigates an old crime she comes across while on forced leave from her job with the police department somewhere. The case just intrigues her curious mind. In the same time frame are the characters of Sadie’s grandfather with whom she stays, Alice Edevane, a prominent 80+ year old author of best-selling mystery tales, Peter, Alice’s well-educated assistant and a police detective who remembers the old case.
The alternating time frame occurs the “old case” concerning a toddler disappeared from the home of his upper class parents. This was 70 years prior – in 1933. It’s a cold case who-done-it, or maybe even “what happened” case. The narrative from 1933 is split up between the points of view of several central characters – and there are a bundle of them, in the inner story but it never really does get confusing – a testament to Morton’s skill as an author.
This is far more a romance novel than it is a suspense or crime or mystery story and it’s way too long. All of the possible suspects, including the grandmother of 80-year old Alice, have long backstories concerning love and war and insanity and other family saga type tales. Most of it takes place in 1933.
I put literary up there in parentheses becuase of the way the narrative is structured. I’ll likely get in trouble for saying this, but I found the book rather tedius and not very well written, a few interesting words maybe, but Morton usually only comes up with cliché in the trope and metaphor department. I suppose that sort of thing is the stuff of comfort reading for many – not for me – usually (g). I doubt I’ll bother with another one by her but you never can tell – lol – I enjoy a good family saga and if I know what I’m getting into, well …