Blackwater Lake by Maggie James


Matthew Stanyer fears the worst when he reports his parents missing. His father, Joseph Stanyer, has been struggling to cope with his wife Evie, whose dementia is rapidly worsening. When their bodies are found close to Blackwater Lake, a local beauty spot, the inquest rules the deaths as a murder-suicide. A conclusion that's supported by the note Joseph leaves for his son.

Grief-stricken, Matthew begins to clear his parents' house of decades of compulsive hoarding, only to discover the dark enigmas hidden within its walls. Ones that lead Matthew to ask: why did his father choose Blackwater Lake to end his life? What other secrets do its waters conceal?

A short (25,000-words) novella, Blackwater Lake examines one man's determination to uncover his family's troubled past.

Matthew Stanyer hasn't been the perfect son, although he's tried. He came home from Greece when his mother fell ill, but he can't bring himself to embrace his childhood home with comfort since it's miserable existence has been taken over with strange hoarding and shame. When he finds out his parents are missing and what's happened them, the hoarding takes on a whole new level of meaning.

It's not often I've read about hoarding, and I dug how the author tied this into a psychological secret the characters try to cover up with physical stuff. Interesting concept. I thought it was interesting how the author focuses so much on the character's embarrassment of his parent's condition. Digging through the hoard reveals secrets that turns this thriller type into a full blown mystery.

The pool of suspects isn't huge, so it's possible to guess the culprit, although I didn't guess the motive. Characters are likable but the dialogue interchanges between Matthew and his girlfriend were rather annoying, especially the overuse of "babe."

A short novella, it's worth a read when in the mood for a small town with an aged crime story that has now been uncovered and brought to light.

   Book Quotes:

“It may not have been a lifestyle she chose, remember. Choice and compulsion don’t always go together.”