Sunday, February 9, 2014

Lake Country

Lake Country
Sean Doolittle
Bantam Books
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-345-53214-0
Trade Paperback
$ 15.00
322 pages

Does punishment for breaking a law suffice for justice?   For some people, when the punishment does not match the crime, they feel that it is their personal responsibility to do the right thing.  They feel personally responsible to equalize life for the victim. In their mind, someone needs to do the right thing.
But what if doing the right thing in a person's mind requires breaking the law?
Wade Benson is a successful architect who works long hours.  Five years ago when he was exhausted, he fell asleep while driving home.  He caused a traffic accident resulting in the death of a young twenty-year-old woman, Becky Morse. 
Unfortunately for Becky's mother, her son also lost his life in Iraq at almost the exact moment as her daughter's death.  How can one person ever heal from the death of both of her children in two separate places on the planet with one day?
For some reason, Wade's  punishment was to spend two days on the anniversary of her death in jail for five years.   This year is his final imprisonment.  The local television stations cover this story every year and televise his entrance and exit from the jail annually.  Even the media questions this punishment as justice?   Is ten days equate to her life?
For ex-Marines Darryl Potter and Mike Barlowe this doesn't seem fair.  They served in Iraq with Becky's brother.  They have seen Mrs. Morse and the effect of her deaths with her grieving.  Darryl especially feels that Mrs. Morse is owed something from Wade Benson.  What could make up for the deaths?
Darryl Potter and Mike Barlowe don't have much in their lives.  Both had difficulty holding a job and gambling with bookies.  By living together Mike is more realistic and attempts to keep Darryl in the real world. 
The Elbow Room is the local bar where the two spend much of their time and they can frequently have free sandwiches and cheap beer from their longtime friendship with the owner..  As a bar owner, he realizes the need to sometimes get away from life.  He owns a cabin located up in the Lake Country where everything seems to work itself out.
Maya Lamb, a local news broadcaster, recognizes the irony of interviewing Juliet Benson for the local television news station.  Juliet is the same age now as when Becky Morse died.    How strange to speak with the daughter of the killer who could easily have been the dead girl.
Darryl decides to settle the score for his wartime buddy and the mother of the two who have been dead for five years.   He is going to take Wade Benson's daughter from him so that he understands.   His plan is to kidnap Juliet.  
Can anyone find or save Juliet?
The race to save Juliet's life is on with Mike, Maya, a bookie, the bartender, and law enforcement trying to find her.
Who will live through this?
Sean Doolittle has recently been a featured author with Mystery Scene magazine as one of five best new authors to follow.  His previous novels are Rain Dogs, Burn, Dirt, Safer, and The Cleanup which one the Barry Award.   He resides in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Lake Country is a haunting tale because it is easy to see this story as real.  The race to save Juliet's life is page-turner where you literally cannot turn the pages fast enough.   The empathy for Mike who really is attempting to do the right thing is heart-wrenching.   The contrast of Doolittle's clean and clear writing is for this messy story truly masterful.  This is story telling at its best.
You are with the characters understanding the logic of each but basically from Mike's point-of-view.
Lake Country is one of those books where you will want to reread certain sections.  This is a phenomenally written mystery.

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