This week we’re looking at an intriguing story of small town optics and murder. This week we’re looking at Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle.
Having grown up on the wrong side of the tracks in a small Southern town on the shores of a big lake, this book had me hooked from the moment I heard about it. And now having read it, I can tell you that Belle has done an amazing job of crafting a story that shows very well how that life and that culture can be. I can’t really speak too much without going into spoiler territory on some front or another, so let me offer a few generalities:
In this book, you will find a fervent church goer that is fully committed to the idea of Jesus solving all problems.You will find a woman who lives a life of luxury but knows what it is like to have nothing. You will find a rich man who tries to ignore his demons with work. You will find a rich man who can’t ignore his demons and loses everything. You will find a powerful man intent on ever more power. You will find a powerful man trying to project an image of success. You will find a mother willing to do whatever it takes to keep her child safe. And, in all likelihood, you will find yourself somewhere in the middle of it all.
Belle manages to expose human nature through the eyes of all-too-familiar old school small town Southern culture, and does an amazingly good job of it. Very much recommended.
As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
The Good Life. This book has a few intriguing storylines deeper than the primary mystery – which itself is compelling and very well told. One of which I know well the temptation of, because I’m actively living a version of it. (Though in my version, I didn’t marry into it but instead created it for myself.) And here the subtle commentary (well, in some cases not quite so subtle) is pretty spot on in my own experience in a similar region (a small Southern US town on the shores of a large lake). Still, the commentary is (again, mostly) subtle enough that if you didn’t live that life, you might not catch just how true it rings, and instead the focus of the tale is the central mystery of the description: who is this stranger, how did she get in the lake, why are so many bodies being found in this lake, and why do they all seem to be connected to Charlotte’s husband? Very well told and with Belle’s usual swerves even until the last pages, this is one you’re going to want to pick up. Very much recommended.