Summit Lake – By Charlie Donlea

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Becca Eckersley is young, beautiful twenty-something law student. With good grades in school and a father who is an accomplished attorney with glitzy social connections, she looked all set for a great life and career ahead. Until she is found murdered in her family vacation home at Summit Lake. Who killed her? What was the motive to kill someone who seemed to have a regular, mundane college life? Kelsey, an investigative crime reporter is sent to find out. As she digs deeper, the search for truth turns out to be more than just another job assignment..

I was pretty excited to win this book in the giveaway. Both the cover and the synopsis caught my attention. It has all the basic elements which I have almost come to regard as my comfort food in murder mysteries (especially in the past couple of years) : Narrative – alternating between past (Becca) and present (Kelsey) timelines. A murder of a young woman in a quaint picturesque small town being investigated by an out-of-towner young woman who is a crime reporter with her own past demons to deal with. So when I said “more than just another job assignment”, I meant, it ends up being an almost cathartic experience for her. Kelsey is sent by her boss to Summit Lake so that she can get away for a while and stop reliving a traumatic experience that occurs a few weeks ago. Initially, she thinks the assignment is just a “fluff piece” meant to provide distraction for a few days, but she is soon invested in the case, both emotionally and out of curiosity.

I felt the whole investigative proceedings were too simplistic and easy. I mean, Kelsey hardly broke into a sweat. Everyone was eager to go out of their way to provide her information and risk getting into trouble. She easily befriends a coffeehouse owner and a doctor who always seemed to know someone who knew something which could help her. I wondered why couldn’t the police solve and close the entire case earlier because it seemed that easy. I also didn’t connect much to the characters and their interactions. Usually, the past narrative featuring the victims helps us understand them better, but I didn’t feel that I knew or understood Becca any better. We are told she has a tendency to unknowingly send guys the wrong signals about her feelings but that’s the problem. We are told everything instead of .. well..just dwelling on or getting a chance to delve more into the person’s mind. More pages on Becca, her thoughts, either in the form of monologues or “diary entries” (or any other narrative device) would have helped. The book works fine as a murder mystery but lacks heft as a psychological thriller. So moving to the stronger aspects, the story moves at a brisk pace and never meanders into unnecessary subplots.  I finished it within three days and was quite taken aback by the big revelation (never saw it coming!). I wonder whether my familiarity with this kind of setting and genre was the reason I had some other expectations, and maybe that’s why I was a bit underwhelmed with some parts of the book. But overall, it is a pretty good whodunit, and I would definitely recommend it if you haven’t read many in this genre. I think you will enjoy it a lot more than I did!

*Note: I received this book from the publisher via the Goodreads giveaway programme. Thank you Kensington Publishing!*

 

 

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