DNF: Stillhouse Lake

Everyone (not everyone in the world, but for the sake of this review, I'll use the all-inclusive term) seems to be loving on this book. "So suspenseful!" they cry.

You know that awkward feeling when people are all talking about A Thing and you know nothing about The Thing, so you sit there and silently scream for help using your eyes?

That was me, attempting to read Stillhouse Lake. I don't get it.

I mean, I intellectually understand the concept of this novel--I would like to think that my reading comprehension is not in any way impaired. But I don't understand why everyone is loving this so much when it's basically a very extended episode of CSI. I've not read anything else by this author, but I have heard good things about her Great Library series (hello, I'm a librarian, and the Library of Alexandria is literary catnip). I don't have any points of comparison but my own fussy tastes in books.

Stillhouse Lake tells the story (of a lovely lady?) of an average wife named Gina with two nice kids who returns home one day to find a car sticking out of the side of her garage, her husband arrested, and herself in handcuffs as an accomplice. The crime? Well, dear ol' dad was secretly a serial killer who tortured and killed innumerable young women over the years--in the family garage. Hubby Melvin is a monster, and after Gina barely escapes a prison sentence of her own (more on that later), she takes her two kids and disappears. Several identities and innumerable moves later, the family ends up near Stillhouse Lake, Tennessee.

I made it halfway through the book and a good 95% of that was Gina attacking her kids, thinking they are dumb because they don't share her exquisitely elevated sense of paranoia, and detailing all of the different ways she has hidden her family. All of it combined is just too bizarre even for a work of fiction. Like how Gina employs a hacker who used to post violent and filthy comments about her online and who doxxed her. The reason? Oh, he suffered as a child too, so he was taking it out on her, but now he's their protector because someone made a sexual threat against Gina's son.

What? No. That's not how this works.

Or how about the time that Gina's son Sam/Connor/Whatever His Name Is This Week forgets to alarm the house and she runs in, gun drawn, and almost shoots him? Feeling that her past is catching up to her again, Gina goes to buy a totally not at all conspicuous child kidnapper white cargo van from her firing range instructor in exchange for her Jeep.

NO. NEVER GET RID OF THE 4 WHEEL DRIVE. What if, in the mess that is Gina's life, the zombie apocalypse broke out? How are you going to flee cross-country without a Jeep, Gina? Eh?

Stillhouse Lake sorely tried my patience. When someone (I don't care who it is, honestly) murders someone in the lake outside her new home, Gina decides not to run (gasp!) and to figure out who did it.

One more thing that I really don't understand: why did the cops arrest Gina and try her as an accomplice? What kind of evidence could they have had? I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that if her husband asks for the garage to be his space, the wife doesn't go in. She probably didn't want to smell all the Bud Light and bags of stale chips scattered in his man cave. Personally, I avoid entering garages as much as possible, because they smell weird and there are usually awful skittering creatures living in them. Unless they had solid proof of collusion between Gina and Melvin, why would they continue to prosecute her? I thought people were innocent until proven guilty (yes, this is possibly one of the most naïve things I've ever said here on the blog, but it is a judicial principle).

This is the first book in a series, and I cannot imagine where it would go from here, except a formulaic Hot Widow Solves Murders While Wrestling With Inner Demons series. That just doesn't appeal to me.

I am very curious about those who enjoyed this book. If you've read it, what did you like about it? I genuinely want to know. 


Popular Posts