Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review of "Lake Country" [84]

Lake Country by Sean Doolittle 
Bantam, ISBN 9780345533920
July 31, 2012, 336 pages

Mike Barlowe knows his pal Darryl Potter is trouble these days but this time he has gone too far even for Darryl. They served in Iraq together and now they are home, battling their demons, PTSD and too much alcohol, so when Darryl gets himself in a lot of trouble, Mike feels obligated to try and save him from himself.

Five years ago, a young local woman was killed when a driver, a successful architect named Wade Benson, fell asleep at the wheel of his car. Many, including Darryl, believe his sentence was too light. Especially since Darryl and Mike knew her brother, who was killed in Iraq. So Darryl decides to come up with his own punishment for Benson. The architect took someones daughter, so he will take Benson's daughter.
He kidnaps the young woman, heading off to Minnesota’s Lake Country, having stolen some money on the way from the type of guy it is especially not smart to steal from. Soon he is followed by a murderous bounty hunter, the cops, a beautiful reporter..and of course his pal Mike. This is not going to turn out well. The only question is who will come out alive.

I read a review that called Doolittle a "master of Midwestern noir" ...who knew there was such a thing. But the description fits this book. While in part rather funny,  especially since Mike is often quite amusing if in a sad sort of way, this book has a wide, dark streak running through it. You know before you are too deeply into the book that there is no way this is going to have a happy ending for everyone involved, and the characters are good enough that we are really care about that. They are not always pretty, and far from perfect, but Doolittle paints them so sympathetically that we wish somehow it could work out. Especially for Mike..
"Five years, he kept thinking: that was all that stood between the Marine he saw in the picture and the sad sack he saw looking back at him from the dresser mirror on the other side of the room. Mike confronted his own reflection: a blotchy, stubbled wreck, sitting on the edge of an unmade bed, with a photograph in his hand. That’s you, he thought."
This is not a mystery. We know pretty clearly who has done what and why and we know the ending will be messy. But it is a good thriller, fast paced, well written, especially recommended for those that like their stories a bit dark and their heroes more than a bit flawed.


  1. So midwestern noir is noir with a midwestern setting?

  2. Since we have southern gothic why can't there be midwestern noir?

  3. Never knew this was a genre (sub-genre?) but I like the sound of it, being a Midwestern girl myself. Where I grew up, things were pretty boring though. Except once when some crazy guy took some people hostage up the road then ended up stabbing himself to death. Swat teams at our house and everything. Who knew I was living Midwestern Noir?


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