Title: The Lake House by Kate Morton
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Mystery
Length: 512 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heartstopping suspense and uncovered secrets.
Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…
One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.
Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.
A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.
In Kate Morton’s latest release, The Lake House, the seventy year old unsolved kidnapping of eleven month old Theo Edevane takes center stage when DC Sadie Sparrow stumbles across the family’s abandoned home while out for a jog. Told from multiple points of view and through flashbacks, this perplexing mystery is brimming with history, family secrets and colorful personalities.
In 1933, the Edevane’s annual midsummer house party is a time of heartbreak for many of the family members and cherished friends. Sixteen year old Alice, an aspiring mystery writer, has just completed her first novel and her schoolgirl crush on one of the family’s gardeners is about to end in heartache. Oldest daughter Deborah’s relationship with mom Eleanor is fraught with tension as they plan Deborah’s upcoming wedding. Youngest daughter Clementine is a tomboy clinging tightly to childhood but she absolutely adores Theo. Longtime family friend Daffyd Llewellyn is anxious and fighting not to sink into another depression. Grandmother Constance is embittered and her relationships with all of inhabitants reflect her dour, strict nature. Parents Eleanor and Anthony are deeply in love and they are shattered by Theo’s kidnapping. In the wake of Theo’s unsolved disappearance, the entire family departs from the estate with no one returning for the next seventy years.
In 2003, Sadie’s own personal history plays a role in her belief that Maggie Bailey did not abandon her young daughter, but with little evidence to support her theory, Sadie goes a little too far once the case is officially closed. Now trying to salvage her career, she is spending four weeks with her grandfather when her curiosity about the Edevane’s abandoned estate leads her to begin an off the books investigation into the unsolved kidnapping. Stunned to discover one of the policeman from the original case is still living in the local area, she gets a firsthand look into the original file. This information, along with her discoveries from her personal research, provide her with a few theories about what happened to Theo.
Deciding she needs to take a look inside the house, Sadie contacts Alice who is now living in London where she is still writing a popular detective series. Although now in her eighties, Alice shows no signs of slowing down and she still has a keenly analytical mind. Alice is convinced she knows what happened to Theo and she is wracked with guilt over what she perceives to be her role in the events of that long ago night.
The narrative seamlessly flips back and forth in time and through different characters’ points of view, the truth about the Edevane family is slowly revealed. These shifts in perspective and time periods are clearly marked but the story gets a little bogged down in superfluous details. The characters are well-developed with distinct voices and the Edevane family dynamics are quite fascinating. The revelation of long held family secrets effectively keeps readers guessing the truth about Theo’s fate and Kate Morton throws in a whopper of plot twist that is as delightful as it is unexpected.
Atmospheric with plenty of family secrets, The Lake House is an intriguing mystery that I recommend to readers of police procedurals.