Thursday, September 19, 2002

Review - Still Lake by Anne Stuart

Still Lake, the newest romantic mystery from Vermont writer Anne Stuart, is a fast-paced novel centered around three 20-year-old murders.

Of the 60-plus novels Stuart has written, this is the only one set in her hometown of Greensboro, Vt.

Stuart works in three genres: historical romance, romantic suspense, and series romance. All have similar elements, usually with a dangerous man and a woman in jeopardy.

Still Lake presents 30-year-old virgin Sophie Davis living with her mother and half sister at Stonegate Farm in Vermont. Sophie's dream is to turn the abandoned farm into an inn and live an idyllic New England life.

But twenty years earlier, the body of one of three murdered teenage girls was found at the farm. The murderer, a teenage drifter, went to jail and was later released on a technicality.

The role of dangerous man in Still Lake goes to John Smith, who moves into an old house at the edge of the property just before Sophie's grand opening. Smith's mysterious need to get in to the closed-off hospital wing of the house to find any remaining evidence of the murders leads to intrigue and danger for all residents at Stonegate Farm.

"Spacey" Gracey is Sophie's 60-year-old mother, who was lively and active until relocating to the farm. Since then she has lost touch with reality. Or has she? Is her early morning stroll into Smith's house part of her dementia, or did she know where she was going?

Will "Spacey" Gracey get her wits back? Will Sophie remain a virgin?

Will the inn open as planned, and what about the old murder evidence? And what is it about John Smith? Sophie welcomes him with muffins but still feels uneasy.

Still Lake moves along quickly with point-of-view shifts from Sophie to John Smith to the murderer. Mystery fans will probably figure out "whodunit" early but will keep reading to figure out why and how.

Romance fans will find the tension between John Smith and Sophie Davis intriguing from first page to last.

Still Lake is not about a lonely woman swooning over a mysterious man. It's about an independent woman who doesn't back away when love beckons.

Title: Still Lake
Author: Anne Stuart
Publisher: Mira
ISBN: 978-1551669083
Pages: 384
Price: $6.50

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