I really, really wanted to love The Lake House by Kate Morton the way I loved the first book of hers I ever read, The Forgotten Garden, which still stands as one of the finest contemporary Gothic mysteries I’ve ever read. I wasn’t as thrilled by The Distant Hours (which I couldn’t finish) or The House at Riverton (which I don’t really remember), but her skill with structure will always keep me coming back.
The Lake House definitely kept me turning pages, but overall I was let down, particularly because of one frustrating coincidence that kind of ruined things for me. I hate coincidence, especially in mysteries. I get why she did it, because there is an emotional payoff that fits with the themes of the book, but she could’ve reached the same payoff without resorting to a cheap trick. I am a bit more forgiving of the red herring, but even that got under my skin.
Morton uses multiple points-of-view to tell the story of a family destroyed when the beloved baby boy goes missing during a huge party at the family’s estate. In addition to multiple perspectives from family members, we also get the story of Sadie Sparrow, a disgraced police officer who blew a big case and is now awaiting her punishment. She may lose her badge, and while struggling to fill the time she comes upon Edevane mansion, now decayed and abandoned, and the cold case of young Theo’s disappearance. The story is rich and meaty with lots of components, and enough misdirection to keep me interested, but not enough for me to look past its flaws.