Wednesday, April 26, 2017

REVIEW: The Lake House by Kate Morton

The Lake House
Author: Kate Morton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Mystery

4/5 stars
PG-13 because it does involve some dark and depressing things surrounding the disappearance of a toddler and memories of war; murder; and some mild sexual content (nothing happens on page, but a child does walk in on it).
Recommend to fans of character-driven stories and twisty-turny mysteies.

I have opted not to include the summary, as it was recommended I not read it, for fear of it giving too much away and therefore ruining some of the suspense. I will say this is about the disappearance of a toddler in 1933 and the detective who tries to solve the cold case in 2003.

The Review:
This is the first book of Kate Morton's I've read, but it has definitely made me a fan. It's not your mainstream kind of genre mystery; it's much more character-driven, the mystery-solving less straight forward, often dealing more about the emotional and/or life changing effect the mystery has on the characters than on how the characters risk life and limb to solve said mystery. And, being a huge fan of character-driven stories, I loved it.

At first, I was annoyed with the amount of detail going into all the different story lines and the character's back stories because this was a mystery and I wanted PLOT. However, once I became familiar with the pacing of the book, I became much more invested in the individual characters and, at times, I wanted to know more about them than I did even about the mystery. Morton is still rather superfluous with her descriptions, but it's easily forgiven in this piece.

The story is complex, insanely layered, and nuanced; it's revealed a piece at a time and steadily unravels until the grand tapestry of secrets and lies finally falls away to reveal the truth. Shifting constantly between two main perspectives over a period of seventy years, Morton leads a merry dance and it's hard not to fall straight into her red herrings because they're blatant and subtle and magnificently crafted. Just when you think you've figured everything out, she reveals a single -sometimes even insignificant- detail that WINDS UP CHANGING EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW.

You think you understand a character inside and out, but Morton is constantly shifting them to expose heretofore unseen facets that rewrite every word and action up to then. This is absolutely a character-driven story and I quickly became invested in them. I became so invested in the characters that, at one point in the book, I actually came to hate it because of one of these twists. I was so devastated that, despite the wonderful crafting of the book, I didn't think I could ever come to good terms with it again. (Fortunately, I did.)

Heartbreaking, wonderful, emotional, trying, and well-plotted, The Lake House is an understated mystery with moments of despair and grit, and a good ending.

Have you read any of Kate Morton's books?
What's your favorite character-driven story?


  1. I don't think have read Kate Morton yet but I admired character driven stories very much. I think it's harder to interest the reader just with a character than with a plot, especially in mysteries! so very unique!. Too much detail would annoy me too but despair and grit could very well make up for it! :) Glad you enjoyed it!

    1. I liked it so much I got our book club to add all her titles we could to our list! Now, if you don't want extraneous detail, pretty much every says that her book The Secret Keeper is her best and doesn't have as much detail. ^_^