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Lake, The (2004)
Fiction Review by The Gravedigger

Lake, The (2004) Author: Richard LaymonTHE LAKE has all the components you expect in a Laymon novel-a few brave heroines and a depraved serial-killer who comes to haunt them from their past.Eighteen-year-old Leigh gets in trouble with her parents-and the law-when she participates in a protest. Her parents think her friends and where they live is responsible (San Francisco) so they send her off for the Summer to her aunt and uncle's in Milwaukee. They live by a lake. It's here where she meets Charlie, an odd but attractive guy who sells hand-made baskets to the tourists. He's shy but she's extremely interested in him and starts making all the moves.Charlie explains that his mother is extremely protective of him, not wanting him to get into any trouble with girls, and he's clearly afraid of her. Leigh's attentions, though, get the better of him and they eventually have sex in an old abandoned house Charlie uses as his private hide-out. But right after this Charlie is accidently killed when he falls through the rotted staircase and crushes his head. Leigh is devastated, so say the least.Skip to eighteen years later and we're introduced to Deanna, Leigh's eighteen-year-old daughter. You guessed it, Charlie is her father. Leigh owns a very successful restaurant and, for the most part, lives an idyllic life very far removed from that incident in her past.When Deanna's boyfriend is killed by a cleaver wielding maniac and she narrowly escapes, Leigh is forced to remember that violent incident from her past, though she keeps this secret from Deanna. Leigh becomes overprotective. Deanna, though, is very much like her mother and has a mind of her own. So instead of staying safe in the house after her boyfriend's funeral, she sneaks out into the night and experiences some more trouble.There's also a sadistic killer who likes to photograph dark-haired women before and after he kills them-and at first we're not sure if the cleaver wielding maniac is actually him or not. There is an unexpected surprise at the ending which I didn't see coming, although it does seem a bit stretched. I couldn't really believe that the killer went to all that trouble with his 'cover' just to get close to Leigh and her daughter. And the 'Afterward' chapter at the very end should have been eliminated -it takes too much away from the close of the story and makes it seem almost like an after school special. It simply doesn't work.I suspect that this novel was completed in the early 80's and is finally seeing print. Since Laymon died several years ago this was the only way we're going to see a 'new' Laymon book. It says in the novel that all the present day events happened in 1999-but it's talked about that Leigh was a hippie (and calling cops 'Pigs') eighteen years ago, which would be 1981. I remember 1981 and there were no hippies. Lots of punks and pink hair but no hippies. There was also a mention of her fantasizing about guys like Tab Hunter-and he was a teen icon in the late 60's. The editors should have changed these things or had the book take place in 1988 or 89, which would have made it 1971 when Leigh was a teenager and had that whole interlude with Charlie.THE LAKE isn't Laymon's best novel but I nevertheless enjoyed it.

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