Title: Stranger in the Lake
Author: Kimberly Belle
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Park Row Books
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Source: Giveaway win; Netgalley
Triggers/Content: suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, drowning
When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.
At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.
As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.
This was my first book by Kimberly Belle, and it was very solid thriller. It was not the most original thriller I’ve ever read, but it was not too predictable either. The too-good-to-be-true marriage to a rich husband is nothing new to the genre, but I appreciated that Charlotte was a smart and decisive main character who had more agency than many women in thrillers. I also enjoyed the atmospheric setting of a wintry, secluded lake in a small town and the mystery of a series of deaths in the lake that may or may not be connected.
However, I struggled to connect with the characters, so I never felt fully invested in the story. Every few chapters were written as flashbacks from the POV of a different character, but the purpose was not apparent until about halfway through the book. Paul was not what I expected.
I think a lot of readers will enjoy this book. It was suspenseful and surprising, and it avoided many tropes I’ve gotten sick of in the thriller genre. I of course had my suspicions throughout the book, but I was shocked when the whole truth was revealed at the end. This was very well-written and I enjoyed many aspects of the story, but it never quite sucked me in like I wanted.