With the picturesque setting of a Blue Ridge Mountain, North Carolina town, this suspense debut piqued my interest immediately.
Becca Eckersley, an attractive law school student from a prominent family is murdered in her family’s vacation home on the shores of Summit Lake. She knew her murderer… she let him in the house willingly. This is the first murder for the small tourist community and the local police are deemed too inexperienced to handle the murder investigation. The North Carolina State Police step in at the request of the girl’s powerfully connected father.
Enter Kelsey Castle, a renowned investigative journalist, who at the behest of her magazine’s editor, is sent to find out exactly what happened on the night of Becca’s vicious rape and murder. His motives are twofold: one is to put his best reporter on the case; the other is to provide Kelsey with some much needed recovery time following her own brutal rape whilst jogging. With the cooperation of the local police chief, Kelsey begins an investigation that could get her in serious trouble.
The case seems shrouded in secrecy. People aren’t talking. Becca’s social media and email accounts have been taken down. Was Becca harboring a secret? A secret that someone would do ANYTHING not to be made known?
The short chapters make the pages turn quickly. The novel is told in two voices, Becca’s in the months before her death; and, Kelsey’s present day meticulous research into her murder. Through flashbacks we become acquainted with Becca’s college friends. Her roommate Gail and the two young men they study with and spend all their free time with, Brad and Jack. As the reader comes to know her better they realize that Becca did indeed have secrets; and she also had several men in her thrall. Did one of these men murder her?
My one problem with the novel: I questioned why such a pronounced police presence plagued Kelsey. Sure, her methods were a bit clandestine, but surely not to that extent! It seemed ‘over the top’. Not a deal breaker though as it did not hinder my enjoyment of the novel. I imagine it was just artistic licence on the author’s part…
“Summit Lake” is the story of a potential-filled life cut short. It has appealing characters, red herrings, ethical indiscretions, building suspense, and a wonderful and surprising twist at the end. An auspicious debut novel by a promising new novelist that should provide myself and many other readers with some enjoyable reading in the future. A real page-turner! Recommended!
I am hosting a GIVEAWAY for a print copy of “Summit Lake“! To enter just leave a comment on this blog between the dates of January 27th and February 12th, 2016. The winner will be chosen via random.org and will be provided a copy of the novel from Kensington Publishing.
Charlie Donlea lives in Chicago with his wife and two young children. He spends a part of each year fishing with his father in the far reaches of Canada, where the roads end and lakes are accessible only by floatplane. These majestic trips to “God’s Country” inspired the setting for Summit Lake.