Monday, June 08, 2020

New Mystery/Thriller Engrossing and Entertaining

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Growing up on the wrong side of the hill in a trashy trailer park with a mother who cared more about drugs than her starving children, Charlie never figured her life would amount to much.  Then Paul Keller walked into the gas station where she worked, started flirting with her, and changed everything.  At 26, she now lives in a huge modern house on the other side of the hill with glorious, million-dollar views of the lake.  Twelve years her senior, Paul is the loving, handsome, successful husband of her dreams.  Shucking off her impoverished childhood just as she has her old nickname, Charlotte has become one of the wealthiest women in town.  So what if her childhood friends call her a sell-out or if she sometimes feels like a visitor in her posh new life?  With a baby on the way, Charlotte is about to have everything she's ever dreamed of and more.  

Then, one icy morning, the dead body of a pretty blonde is found beneath the Kellers' dock.  Only four years ago, another corpse was discovered in the exact same spot—that of Paul's first wife, Katherine.  Although Katherine's cause of death was ruled an accidental drowning, town gossip labeled Paul a murderer.  Charlotte has never believed the rumors, but she really hasn't known her husband for long and he's never been very forthcoming about his past.  With the police eager to pin the stranger's murder on Paul, Charlotte must ask herself some tough questions.  Who is the woman in the lake?  Why was she killed?  Is her husband capable of murdering not one, but two women?  Why did Paul take off into the woods as soon as he saw the corpse?  What is he hiding?  As secrets from the past are dredged up for reexamination, Charlotte will learn some terrible truths about her husband, their friends, and a town with plenty to hide.  

You all know I love me a good small-town secrets novel.  Stranger in the Lake (available June 9, 2020), the newest mystery/thriller by Kimberly Belle, certainly qualifies.  Although there's nothing super original about the story, it nevertheless kept me glued to the page.  The premise is intriguing in its simplicity, the prose is propulsive, and the characters are complex and interesting.  Charlotte is a relatable heroine who's easy to root for.  Because there is only a small pool of suspects, it wasn't tough for me to identify the killer fairly early on.  However, I wasn't absolutely sure I was correct until the end of the book, and even then there was at least one plot twist that surprised me.  All in all, then, I found Stranger in the Lake to be an engrossing, entertaining thriller.  I'll definitely be looking for more from Belle.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of The First Wife by Erica Spindler)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, and blood/gore

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of Stranger in the Lake from the generous folks at Harlequin.  Thank you!

3 comments:

  1. In most mysteries there isn't something original, but that doesn't really seem to matter, does it. If it's a well done story, I'm in.

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  2. Great review, thank you. I'm going to add this one to my TBR shelf on Goodreads right now. :)

    What are your top three favorite small-town secrets novels? I love that subgenre too and am always looking for new recommendations.

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  3. I also figured out some of the mystery in this one, but not all. The twists were well done and I enjoyed this one. Wonderful review Susan.

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