Wednesday, July 12, 2017

At the Lake

A pier and a boat at Deep Creek Lake
Deep Creek Lake
I just returned from vacation at Deep Creek Lake, the fourth summer I’ve spent a week there with my daughter, son-in-law, and four grandsons. It is the perfect vacation for active boys – boating, swimming, fishing, and hiking. In the evening ghost stories are told around the fire pit while roasting marshmallows. For the adults the lake is a tranquil retreat from the pressures of everyday life. A sloping lawn stretches from the house to the water, sunlight shimmers on the lake surface, and gentle waves lap the rocky shore. At night the scene is especially beautiful with moonlight on the water and fireflies twinkling in the trees. Peaceful, relaxing. Surely nothing bad could ever happen here?

Evening at a pier on Deep Creek Lake

But when you turn to the pages of fiction lakes are anything but peaceful. They represent mystery and dark secrets from the past. A lake is where a murderer dumps his victim, where an innocent passer-by sees a body floating, where a mysterious splash breaks the silence of the night, where people disappear without trace, where a town’s murky history is submerged. You won’t think of lakes as just beautiful scenery again after dipping into one of these tales:

  • A classic well worth a return visit is Raymond Chandler’s The Lady in the Lake. Private Investigator Philip Marlowe leaves the mean streets of Los Angeles and heads into the San Bernardino Mountains to investigate the deaths of two young women. Both were last seen near a cabin on Little Fawn Lake.
    Book cover for Lost Lake by Phillip Margolin
  • Everything I NeverTold You by Celeste Ng is a critically acclaimed contemporary novel that explores the tensions and secrets in a Chinese-American family. Daughter Lydia is found drowned in a nearby lake, a suspected suicide. The novel moves back in time to examine what led to her death from the perspective of all the family members. This book was Amazon’s #1 Book of the Year in 2014 and is the winner of many literary awards.
  • If you are drawn to complicated conspiracy thrillers, the twisty Lost Lake by Phillip Margolin is for you. What really happened twenty years ago when a congressman was tortured and murdered at an isolated cabin on Lost Lake? And what does it have to do with a renegade general who runs a covert unit of assassins? The general’s daughter, who found the congressman’s body, is involved in the investigation.
  • Lake of Sorrows by Erin Hart takes place in a remote area of rural Ireland. Pathologist Nora Gavin is summoned to examine an ancient body dredged from the boggy depths of the Lake of Sorrows. It appears that the man died in a pagan sacrifice ritual. But when another body is found, this one wearing a wristwatch, it becomes clear that the threat is far from ancient.
  • Can dreams kill? That is the unusual suspected cause of death in Wolf Lake by John Verdon. When four victims are found dead, stabbed with daggers ornamented with a wolf’s head carving, it turns out they all recently visited a controversial psychologist at his Wolf’s Head Lodge in the Adirondacks. Former NYPD detective Dave Gurney investigates.
Book cover for The Lake House by Kate Morton
  • Finally The Lake House by Kate Morton. This is my personal favorite and will appeal to fans of Daphne du Maurier. Like Rebecca it is set at a magnificent estate in Cornwall, in this case Edavane, a now abandoned ivy-covered ruin. The lake, once the scene of jolly boating parties, is now a weed choked swamp. The mystery involves what happened at a long ago party when little Theo, the baby of the family, disappeared. Years later Alice, Theo’s elder sister, returns to the house and joins forces with a young detective to unravel the mystery. 

If all these dark deeds have put you off a lake vacation I suggest you head to the beach. Much safer. Except for the sharks of course!

Rita T.


  1. A blog post mentioning Deep Creek Lake and mysteries and not a word about Lauren Carr's Mac Faraday series?

    Mind you, I haven't read any of them, but they are mentioned frequently on a mystery-themed book blog I follow. So I am at least aware the series is set in the Deep Creek Lake region.