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06.02.2014
2015-07-28A suspected kidnapping, a once-proud manor house, and a disgraced police officer all figure in Morton's latest multigenerational Cornish saga.
Read an ExcerptThe Lake House CORNWALL, AUGUST 1933The rain was heavy now and the hem of her dress was splattered with mud. I am forcibly reminded at this point of the Dresden Files novel Dead Beat, where Harry Dresden ends up riding a zombie T. Enabling JavaScript in your browser will allow you to experience all the features of our site. In 2003, Sadie is put on administrative leave from her post with the London police force for getting too involved in a child-abandonment case.
What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Sadie Sparrow of the London police stumbles upon the abandoned estate and approaches Alice, now a grand dame author. She retreats to her grandfather's house in Cornwall, and there, while jogging, she happens upon the ruin of what locals inform her is Loeanneth, the ancestral lakeside manse of the deShiel family. She’d come earlier to dig the hole, but only now, under veil of darkness, would she finish the job. I was reading it in the breakroom at work, and got some strange looks when I burst into hysterical laughter. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit.


The story ricochets among 2003, 1911, and 1933 as we learn that Eleanor deShiel, who inspired a children's book reminiscent of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, became the chatelaine of Loeanneth thanks to a Downton Abbey-esque plot twist in which, due to the Titanic disaster, new husband Anthony Edevane inherits enough money to reclaim her birthright from creditors. Rain stippled the surface of the trout stream, drummed relentlessly on the earth beside it. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. But when Anthony goes to war, he returns shell-shocked and prone to unpredictable outbursts. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago.
Meanwhile, their children, Deborah, Alice and Clemmie, frolic on the grounds, oblivious to their parents' difficulties.
Alice, 16, is a budding mystery writer (whose future fame will equal Agatha Christie's), but in 1933 she's nursing a teenage crush on Ben, an impecunious gardener. As a lark, she concocts a hypothetical scenario which might have prompted Ben to kidnap Theo, her baby brother.
Too much had happened: the search parties, the policemen, the articles in the newspapers pleading for information. Flashbacks reveal that Deborah and Clemmie also have reason to blame themselves for Theo's disappearance during an all-night Midsummer's Eve party—he was never found and his fate remains unknown.
As the various skeins intersect, the story becomes unwieldy; using multiple narrators, Morton can believably withhold information to build suspense, but when such selective nondisclosure is carried to extremes, frustrated readers may be tempted to practice their skimming.


The smell of sodden soil was overwhelming, of wood mouse and mushrooms, of other moldering things. Her father had told her once that generations had walked these woods and been buried deep beneath the heavy earth. He found comfort in the continuity of nature, believing that the stability of the long past had the power to alleviate present troubles. And maybe in some cases it had, but not this time, not these troubles.She lowered the bag into the hole and for a split second the moon seemed to peer from behind a cloud.
She patted the ground flat, slapped her hands against it, and stomped down hard with her boots until she was out of breath.There.
It was done.It crossed her mind that she should say something before she left this lonely place.
The inclination made her feel ashamed.She made her way back quickly through the woods, careful to avoid the boathouse and its memories. The lake’s water lapped at its banks and the last of the nightingales called farewell.



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