Books of 2011 # 2 – Lake Charles by Ed Lynskey

The top three books in this review are exceptionally hard to separate. Each in its own way is worthy of the top spot, and Lake Charles is a very worthy runner-up.

Lake Charles: A Mystery NovelLake Charles: A Mystery Novel by Ed Lynskey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s the summer of 1979 and Brendan Fishback, his sister Edna and brother-in-law Cobb Kuzawa are heading to Lake Charles to do some bass fishing and have a good time.

Brendan has the spectre of a murder charge hanging over his head, a crime that he didn’t commit, and this might be the last chance he gets to cut loose before his trial.

Lake Charles isn’t the same place that it was though, once a haven for leisure, it’s now run-down and in a bad way, and it isn’t long before Brendan’s situation goes from bad to worse. His sister disappears and Brendan and Cobb run up against some back-country marijuana growers while trying to find her.

“Lake Charles” is told by Brendan in the first person and also through the clever use of flashbacks in dreams in Brendan’s mind’s eye. In this way Ed Lynskey writes a novel that oozes evil and violence by turn. As the story unfolds you are caught time and again by another punch to the guts in terms of a twist in the plot or a revelation that you didn’t see coming. Page after page, I found myself thinking about things I wanted to include in this review, but without giving too many spoilers that would have made this review too long, and given away too much of the plot.

The story carries an air of realism, and is grounded with the practicalities of the late ‘70s, this gives it an edge in terms of pace and dialogue that wouldn’t have been possible with a more modern setting. The characters feel complete and as a result as the plot turns, you become embedded in what is happening to them and wondering what the next shock will be.

This is the first novel I have read by this author, but I will certainly be looking out for others, and would recommend “Lake Charles” if you like a good crime or mystery.

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