I love Thanksgiving food. In the month preceding the holiday, my mouth begins to water at the very thought of our particular traditional dishes. And there’s a reason for that expectation – every dish is chock full of sugar and butter and cream. My cranberries? 2 full cups of sugar! My yams? Sugar and butter and then more sugar! I make a spinach gratin dish that involves butter and milk and cream and cheese! It’s a once-a-year system overload of the bad things that make food delicious.
Once I sank into my post-meal food coma, I also sank into The Lake House by Kate Morton. This book has been the darling of the blogging community, so I ignored the goofball cover and jumped in.
|(The face on the cover of The Lake House reminded me of this type of 80s cover. Nice outfit, Dude!)|
And you know what? This is a great book to read if you don’t want to work hard and if you want to be transported to a different time and place. It was full of literary sugar. Full of it! Brimming over, in fact, and then drizzled with butter and cream and more sugar.
The novel strikes me as a mashup of a cozy mystery and a gothic romance. There are several story lines running alongside each other, and the narrative jumps back and forth in time as the reader tries to figure out two separate mystery arcs. At the center of both is a detective named Sadie Sparrow, who is on leave from her job in 2003 after acting as a leak in an investigation. That investigation involves a woman who disappears and leaves her small child at home alone. The police department concludes that the woman vanished on her own terms; Sadie thinks foul play was involved. On her break from work, she stays with her grandfather in the country. While there, she stumbles upon an abandoned estate that (miraculously) has been left exactly as it was in the 1930s. Sadie finds herself trying to solve the many decades old mystery of a baby who went missing at the house.
|(Here's a creepy abandoned estate I stumbled upon in Ireland. I did not uncover any mysteries, unfortunately.)|
If you like non-violent who-dunnits or books about crumbling mansions with hidden passageways and even more hidden secrets, this book is definitely for you. However, this is one of those novels where I had to constantly remind myself not to overthink things. There were so many convenient developments that pushed this plot along – e.g. a crime scene virtually untouched after 70 years and characters that helpfully write everything down in letters to be discovered later. I felt pulled away from the vibrant historical world each time Sadie got unrealistically lucky.
But I suppose you shouldn’t turn to a gothic romance-y mystery if what you’re looking for is realism. Morton gives the reader exactly what she promises, and for me, it was an entertaining holiday indulgence.