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Review of ‘Stranger in the Lake’

In Kimberly Belle’s new novel, Stranger in the Lake, Charlotte marries an older gentleman named Paul who shares the story of his first marriage with her. His wife tragically died by drowning in the lake, so he says. His first wife was a champion swimmer, so whether she drowned or not is questionable. People are talking. Despite the tragedy being deemed an accident, locals believe that Paul murdered his first wife. Charlotte is young and in love, and she brushes off the rumors, which makes her lose a good friend named Sam. Charlotte remains loyal and trustworthy, which will be a fatal flaw as the novel continues. Love can be blinding, and you start to wonder if Charlotte will ever see the truth behind her husband’s lies. 

One day, a woman is found dead under the same dock where Paul’s first wife was found. Charlotte recognizes the woman because the day before, she saw Paul talking to her in town. The tragedy is being looked at as a possible homicide. Paul asks Charlotte to lie for him before packing his belongings and running away, leaving her in the midst of the homicide investigation. It’s not that much of a surprise that Charlotte covers up for Paul. She’s loyal to the man she loves and continues to give him the benefit of the doubt, but she’s still suspicious.

Paul has a mysterious background that involves two of his close friends named Jax and Micah. Charlotte senses tension between Jax and Micah, which causes her to look at the three men both individually and collectively. As she pursues her own investigation, she loses faith in Paul’s innocence regarding the two tragedies on the lake. Charlotte grows from being a naive wife into a reasonable, independent woman. 

Each chapter of Stranger in the Lake builds tension toward a revelation that’s somewhat unpredictable. Everything is connected: the women, the lake, Paul and his friends. Charlotte is trying to piece together all the lies Paul has told her to uncover his role in the recent murder case. There are only so many lies and coincidences that she can overlook though. Maybe everything the townspeople have been accusing Paul of isn’t all talk.

Stranger in the Lake is one of our 2020 summer reads. View the full reading list here and read our interview with author Kimberly Belle here.

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