The House Across the Lake (2022) by Riley Sager

Publisher’s Book Synopsis:

Be careful what you watch for . . .

Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of bourbon, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple living in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing–a tech innovator, Tom is powerful; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.

One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other–and the longer Casey watches–it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage isn’t as perfect as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey immediately suspects Tom of foul play. What she doesn’t realize is that there’s more to the story than meets the eye–and that shocking secrets can lurk beneath the most placid of surfaces.

My Review:

What a beautiful and entertaining modern homage to Hitchcock.

I need to figure out where to start with my review. I have a lot to say, and my thoughts are all over the place. I thoroughly enjoyed The House Across the Lake (HAL). The atmosphere was off the charts. I could feel the crisp air, the warm fire, the cold water, the tension, the desperation, the suspense.

Many people complain about Sager’s female characterizations, but I don’t get it. I have always found his heroines believable and authentic. Maybe I don’t see it because I have always been able to empathize and relate to them as characters, feeling their actions, choices, and speech are believable. I feel this way about Casey – I loved her as a character. Her neurosis, paranoia, and alcoholism were pertinent to the plot and well depicted.

One of the latter twists might make or break the reading experience; personally, I loved it! And I appreciate that plenty of breadcrumbs foreshadowed it, yet it came as a shock.

**Minor/Major Spoilers below** (click on the arrow)
    Talking about bread crumbs, all the subtle (and overt) references to Hitchcock films were a bonus (I know many of Hitchcock’s movies were faithful adaptations of novels, but I am going with the common denominator here). I loved trying to find all the Easter eggs hidden in many aspects of HAL – plot, prose, setting, characterization, and subtle references. Other than the apparent Rear Window inspiration, I found elements of The Lady Vanishes, Suspicion, Shadow of a Doubt, Dial M for Murder, Rope, The Wrong Man, and Vertigo.

One of the best executions of shocking twists I have read in a long time. HAL makes perfect use of a narrator’s unreliability; it has superb pacing, tight plotting, and a suspenseful atmosphere that feels strangely comforting and nostalgic to Hitchcock fans. In my opinion, Sagers’ best novel yet.

Characters: 9

Plot: 8

Enjoyment: 10

Atmosphere: 10

Intrigue: 10

Writing / Execution: 9           

Fainess / Logic: 10

My total rating: 4.71

Until next book, be the hummingbird!

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