Stillhouse Lake is this month’s Criminally Good Book Club book and what a good book it was! Stillhouse Lake is a lesson in paranoia.
Gina Royal is the definition of average – a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor – the ultimate warrior mom.
With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.
But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake – and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed – or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.
“You’re being paranoid – but what if they really are out to get you!” You must have all heard something similar to that at some point in your life; Stillhouse Lake embodies paranoia. As Gwen sets up home with her children for the umpteenth time, her paranoia transcends off the page; as the reader you feel it, like Gwen, you can’t trust anyone, everyone is a suspect. And when you’re reading this novel, you’re kept on your toes, paying full attention, assessing every situation because the threat could come from anywhere!
I loved the inner battle Gwen was having with herself – the need to give her kids a healthy home life vs the need to keep them safe. You can’t help but feel for Gwen, yes, her safety precautions are extreme but you can’t blame her for it. She found an ally in the most unlikely of places but she knows there’s only so much you can trust someone. Gwen’s fierce and focused, while Gina may have been blind to the goings on in her own home, Gwen will be damned if she fails to notice any and everything!
Increasingly, I find teenage children are hard characters to create, they always run the risk of being annoying. But here, Gwen’s daughter, is an extremely well written character. You can see how the life she has been forced to live has influenced her behaviour – the same is true of her younger brother. While still having the usual sibling rivalries, they are mature beyond their years, they understand the threat and will act accordingly if they feel threatened.
One of the things I really liked about Stillhouse Lake is it has a bit of everything – part domestic thriller, part serial killer thriller, part police procedural, all blended together with a healthy dose of suspense.
Stillhouse Lake has a fantastic suspenseful cliff-hanger of an ending that guarantees I’ll be reading book two – Killmans Creek. Please don’t read the synopsis of book two until after you have read this one because it will possibly spoil your read, and stop you being nervous-excited when you’re supposed to be. And trust me, you want this read to be as unspoiled as possible – let that paranoia grab hold of you.
Reviews from other book club members: