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A Disappointing Dive into Domestic Suspense: A Review of "The House Across the Lake" by Riley Sager

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Riley Sager's "The House Across the Lake" promised an intriguing blend of suspense and domestic drama, with a setup reminiscent of Hitchcock's classic "Rear Window." However, what begins as a promising exploration of voyeurism and suspicion quickly devolves into a messy narrative with unsatisfying twists that fail to deliver on their potential.


the house across the lake book cover

The novel follows Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress seeking solace at her family's lake house in Vermont. Armed with binoculars and bourbon, she becomes captivated by the glamorous couple across the lake, Tom and Katherine Royce. When Casey saves Katherine from drowning, a friendship forms, revealing cracks in the seemingly perfect façade of the Royces' marriage. But when Katherine disappears, Casey's suspicions turn towards Tom, unraveling a web of secrets and deception.


The first 70% of the book sets up an atmosphere of intrigue, drawing readers into Casey's voyeuristic observations and her growing unease about the Royces' relationship. Sager adeptly showcases Casey’s alcoholism and her storytelling beliefs of the neighbor’s world as seen through her deceased husband’s binoculars and her alcohol fueled imagination.


However, the novel's downfall lies in its final act, where the plot takes an abrupt and nonsensical turn. What initially seemed like a promising psychological thriller devolves into a series of implausible twists that strain believability. It's as if Sager painted himself into a corner and opted for shock value over narrative coherence. The resolutions to the mysteries feel forced and contrived, leaving readers more frustrated than satisfied.


While "The House Across the Lake" may fare better than Sager's previous work I read, "The Only One Left," it still falls short of its potential. The promising premise and compelling setup ultimately give way to a disappointing and disjointed narrative.


In conclusion, while "The House Across the Lake" may appeal to fans of domestic suspense looking for a quick read, those seeking a satisfying and well-crafted mystery may find themselves disappointed. With its convoluted plot and underwhelming twists, this novel leaves much to be desired. As for future works by Riley Sager, it's uncertain whether they will deliver the depth and coherence that this genre demands. The only saving grace was that I borrowed this from the library.

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