Bitterroot Lake by Alicia Beckman (2021) Review

The past always come back to haunt you.

Why I picked up the book:

Sarah has had a happy life with her husband, with no connection to her past. When he loses his battle to cancer, leaving her a young and grieving widow, and her mother summons her back to Bitterroot Lake to sort out the sale of their childhood home, Sarah feels its finally time to return and face the ghosts of her past.

Sarah’s memories of the place are filled with tragedy and guilt. In her teens, Sarah had a premonition she ignored and believed, in retrospect, that her vision was a warning. Sarah feel that the death of one of her friends could have been avoided, if only she had listened to the warning.  That is not the only tragedy from her past, she shares a secret with 4 of her youth best friends. Something no one ever talked about.

Within a week of her husband death, someone else from Sarah’s past dies under mysterious circumstances. Soon after her childhood friends reveal that they have received threatening letters implying the writer knows what happened when they were teenagers. To Sarah, it feels like everything is happening at once.

Is everything connected? What happened in the past? Who killed the lawyer and are Sarah’s visions premonitions or memories?

The book through my criteria lens:

I listened to Bitterroot Lake, and I think Linda Jones did an amazing job bringing the story to life. However, because there are so many characters, I was confused at times and feel this book would have benefitted from an ensemble cast. The pacing was as good as it could be, considering the narrative of the book itself is quite slow. I tried listening to it at 2x speed, but somehow that didn’t work for me.

Bitterroot Lake is a very slow-paced book and I feel there were too many characters. I had a hard time keeping track of them all, but I will have to say that the main character was really well developed and Beckman did a wonderful job bringing Lucas to life. He is a highly unlikable character and we got the full force of his “doucheness”, even though he is dead in the present. I feel that the plot was original and so promising, but the execution suffered a bit. The synopsis led me to believe I was going to read a psychological thriller with a heavy dose of paranormal. I didn’t find that on the pages, there were some paranormal allusions, but they left me wanting more. When reading a whodunit, I always look for fairness above all, and unfortunately, I feel that Beckman could have played fairer with the solution for the murder.

What Beckman excelled at was ambiance. I really felt the dread of the situation in which Sarah felt herself and her paranoia. The description of mountainous Montana and the lodge was also outstanding and made me feel like I was there (and wish I could visit the Rocky Mountains soon).

My personal feelings:

Unfortunately, Beckman style didn’t work for me and I just couldn’t get into the book. It’s probably because I went into it with the wrong expectations and couldn’t quite adjust them. The solution played a big part on my overall feelings about the book, it’s not so much that it didn’t make sense, but that I felt I never got a fair chance to have gotten there. Overall, I still recommend this book to fans of slow burners and people who reads books for the ride, rather than for the puzzle. It wasn’t bad, it was just not for me.

Enjoyability     3

Characters       7

Ambience        10

Fairness          5

Plot                  10

Execution        6

My total rating: 3.41


Disclaimer: I first read it as an ARC. In exchange for an honest review, I am thankful to Dreamscape, Alicia Beckman and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of Bitterroot Lake.

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