The Lost Women of Lost Lake (Jane Lawless Series #19)

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Overview

Restaurateur and part-time P.I. Jane Lawless is taking some much-needed time off at her family’s lodge when her best friend, Cordelia, arrives with news that Tess, one of their good friends, has taken a nasty fall and needs their help with rehearsals for a play that is set to open in a week. When Tess isn’t on crutches, she helps run the Thunderhook Lodge, the premier resort on Lost Lake. And while she clearly needs Jane and Cordelia’s assistance, she isn’t exactly acting all ...

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The Lost Women of Lost Lake (Jane Lawless Series #19)

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Overview

Restaurateur and part-time P.I. Jane Lawless is taking some much-needed time off at her family’s lodge when her best friend, Cordelia, arrives with news that Tess, one of their good friends, has taken a nasty fall and needs their help with rehearsals for a play that is set to open in a week. When Tess isn’t on crutches, she helps run the Thunderhook Lodge, the premier resort on Lost Lake. And while she clearly needs Jane and Cordelia’s assistance, she isn’t exactly acting all that grateful.

A man who claims to be a journalist has arrived in Lost Lake with an old photograph and some questions for Tess that go back decades. His questions have put her on edge, and when he shows up peeking through her kitchen window, everyone else is right there with her. As beloved as Tess is, there are plenty of people who don’t care about any so-called journalist and are happy to protect her, but how far are they willing to take it? And when will they need answers to questions that that only Tess can provide?

In The Lost Women of Lost Lake—the most engrossing mystery yet from Lambda and Minnesota Book Award–winning author Ellen Hart—Jane’s only hope of protecting her friends from the secrets that are surfacing all around them is to uncover the whole truth before anyone else can.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Hart’s engaging 19th Jane Lawless mystery (after 2010’s The Cruel Ever After), the lesbian restaurateur, who’s taking a well-earned vacation at the family cabin in northern Minnesota, tries to decide once and for all whether to partner with longtime friend PI A.J. Nolan, who recently took a bullet in the stomach meant for her. Meanwhile, Jane’s drama diva BFF, Cordelia Thorn, recruits her to babysit playwright Tessa Cornell, a mutual friend in Lost Lake, Minn., who’s sidelined by a sprained ankle. , The Ayckbourn farce Tessa’s directing can’t go on without her, but Cornelia plans to step in as backup while Jane plays nursemaid. What neither Jane nor Cornelia can fix is Tessa’s frantic distress over the appearance in Lost Lake of a mysterious man in a Chicago White Sox cap, who claims to be looking for a woman he calls Judy Clark. Guns get passed around, and, lickety-split, somebody’s found shot to death. Jane, temporary amateur sleuth, comes to the rescue in this sometimes bittersweet effort. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

Praise for Ellen Hart

“As ever, author Ellen Hart presents first-rate depictions of her locales and her returning characters.… An appealing homage to Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon underscores the bountiful action, which also includes a revelatory scene involving Chess’s girlfriend that would made Alfred Hitchcock proud.”
Yahoo Shine! on The Cruel Ever After

“One of the strengths of Hart’s acclaimed series (this is the eighteenth book) is that the rich details about food, family, and place never undermine the swift pacing of her plots. Readers feel so much a part of Jane’s world that we’d fight for a table at the Lyme House Restaurant in Minneapolis just for a taste of Jane’s corned beef and cabbage.”
Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) on The Cruel Ever After

“The Lambda Literary Award and Minnesota Book Award–winning author of seventeen Jane Lawless mysteries knows how to spin a tale full of complex plot lines, fast-paced action, and characters skilled in deception. Fans of the Lawless series and readers who enjoy gay/lesbian mysteries will not be disappointed.”
Library Journal (starred review) on The Mirror and the Mask

“Ellen Hart, one of Minnesota’s bestselling mystery writers, weaves a net of complex relationships. . . . Sweet Poison is as much a psychological thriller about unrequited love as a mystery.”
St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Hart is at the top of her game.”
Curve Magazine on The Mortal Groove

From the Publisher
Praise for Ellen Hart

“As ever, author Ellen Hart presents first-rate depictions of her locales and her returning characters.… An appealing homage to Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon underscores the bountiful action, which also includes a revelatory scene involving Chess’s girlfriend that would made Alfred Hitchcock proud.”

Yahoo Shine! on The Cruel Ever After

“One of the strengths of Hart’s acclaimed series (this is the eighteenth book) is that the rich details about food, family, and place never undermine the swift pacing of her plots. Readers feel so much a part of Jane’s world that we’d fight for a table at the Lyme House Restaurant in Minneapolis just for a taste of Jane’s corned beef and cabbage.”

Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) on The Cruel Ever After

“The Lambda Literary Award and Minnesota Book Award–winning author of seventeen Jane Lawless mysteries knows how to spin a tale full of complex plot lines, fast-paced action, and characters skilled in deception. Fans of the Lawless series and readers who enjoy gay/lesbian mysteries will not be disappointed.”

Library Journal (starred review) on The Mirror and the Mask

“Ellen Hart, one of Minnesota’s bestselling mystery writers, weaves a net of complex relationships. . . . Sweet Poison is as much a psychological thriller about unrequited love as a mystery.”

St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Hart is at the top of her game.”

Curve Magazine on The Mortal Groove

Library Journal
Lesbian restaurateur Jane Lawless's (The Cruel Ever After) vacation plans are disrupted when friends Jill and Tessa need her sleuthing skills to figure out why a stranger is asking questions around the little resort town of Lost Lake. Turns out Tessa made bad choices during the turmoil of 1968 Chicago, and someone dearly wants revenge. Jane might be an amateur sleuth, but her tenacity gets her to the bottom of the case. A secondary plot featuring teens provides a haunting contrast to Tessa's dilemma as well. VERDICT This engrossing, thought-provoking entry by a Lambda and Minnesota Book Award winner proves that long-running series don't have to lose steam. Hart makes it easy for newcomers to jump in, and regular followers of this series will be glad to see what Jane decides to tell retired detective friend Nolan at the book's conclusion. Topically, consider pairing with Libby Fischer Hellmann's Set the Night on Fire.—Terry Jacobsen, Fairfield, CA
Kirkus Reviews

A sleuth gets involved in a melancholy mystery that unravels the dark past of a close friend.

Restaurateur and amateur investigator Jane Lawless and the outrageous (and outrageously outfitted) Cordelia Thorn head to Lost Lake to provide cheer and respite to their friends Tessa and Jill. Jane imagines that her time will be spent cooking for the longtime couple while Tessa's sprained ankle heals, but it appears that something much greater is amiss in their hosts' apparently idyllic lives. Although Tessa's anything but forthcoming about whatever's bothering her, Jill implores Jane to dig a little deeper. The situation is complicated by the arrival of Tessa and Jill's nephew Jonah. The teen, whose girlfriend Emily is a Lost Lake local, seeks refuge at his aunts' place. In Jonah's absence, it appears that Emily may have gotten involved with Kenny, Jonah's closest childhood friend, though neither of the two is being open with Jonah about their new relationship. Tessa and Jill struggle to rise above Jonah's teen drama while Tessa's secrets threaten the health of their otherwise stable union. A new possible love interest, meanwhile, gives Jane a bit of drama of her own.

A distinct improvement in this series, this tale is more coherent than its most recent predecessors (The Cruel Ever After, 2010, etc.), but also more somber in tone.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312614775
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/27/2011
  • Series: Jane Lawless Series , #19
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 985,986
  • Product dimensions: 8.54 (w) x 5.78 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

ELLEN HART, “a top novelist in the cultishly popular gay mystery genre” (Entertainment Weekly), is also a Lambda and Minnesota Book Award winner. The author of eighteen previous mysteries featuring Jane Lawless, she lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Visit her Web site at www.EllenHart.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 12, 2011

    Outstanding Intensely Engaging Novel

    It is interesting how these things come in multiples. Libby Hellmann recently released a novel with its genesis in the riotous summer and fall of 1968. The Minnesota History Center has just opened an elaborate exhibit focused on 1968, and the History Theater in Saint Paul has mounted an original play, ¿1968, The year That Rocked The World.¿ And now here we have a powerful, emotionally intense novel by that excellent Minneapolis writer, Ellen Hart. It is a story of two women who are unable to divorce themselves from that same year, 1968 and the decisions and actions they took then. The story is another event in the evolving saga of Minneapolis restaurateur, Jane Lawless. This time she and bosom chum Cordelia take what they intend to be a short vacation trip into Minnesota¿s benign northern wilderness to the Lawless family lodge on a lake north of the Twin Cities. It¿s a common enough activity, and bucolic time on placid water amid peaceful forests is expected to provide calm and rejuvenation. Jane is trying to decide whether she can commit to working with a close friend toward becoming a professional private investigator. The peaceful appearing forest, like so many lives, conceals dark doings and Jane is drawn into a maelstrom of murder, revenge, drugs and double dealing. The multiple threads of this complex story intersect, divide, and then reweave. At times the action is high with tension, the pace frantic. At other times, the story becomes thoughtful, calm, like the smooth waters of the lake itself, allowing readers moments to reflect, perhaps, on their own lives and paths not taken. The women of lost lake, must, in the end, decide for themselves, and take for themselves the heart-rending consequences of their lives. I note in passing that the author and I are friends, which has no bearing on the gist of this review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 18, 2011

    Excellent Mystery!!

    Ellen is truly an excellent spinner of a tale- lots of interesting people are introduced and the story builds and builds into a situation that you never see coming. The ending is a true shocker- I was so surprised and the tears rained freely- there was so much emotion. This book really deals with an impossible situation and how the characters try to live and deal with it. Please read it and enlighten your soul!!
    Thanks

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This is a great Jane Lawless amateur sleuth

    Playwright Tessa Cornell severely sprains her ankle. Her wife of twenty six years Jill Ivorsen cares for her mate at the Thunderhook Lodge she owns by Lost Lake. Minneapolis restaurant owner (of Lyme House and the Xanadu Club) Jane Lawless and her best friend the Allen Grimsby Repertoire Theater of St. Paul artist director Cordelia Thorn travel to Lost Lake to help their friends with a sundry of things like cooking.

    A man wearing a White Sox shirt arrives at the LaVasser Soda Fountain seeking information about a woman named Judy Clark who is in a Chicago photo from 1968 with the deceased Jeff Briere. Owner Lyndie LaVasser says she cannot help Steven Feigenbaumer as she has no idea who this woman he seeks is. However, she sees Judy Clark whenever she looks into a mirror. Frantic Lyndie calls Tessa accusing her of getting her in the mess over five decades ago. Jane arrives and knows something besides her ankle bothers Tessa, but the woman refuses to reveal what disturbs her. Her wife begs Jane, who has solved mysteries before (see the Cruel Ever Affair), to investigate.

    This is a great Jane Lawless amateur sleuth as what happened in riotous 1968 Chicago impacts the present with a long dead cold case returning to life haunting everyone involved. The is some teen triangular angst involving Jill's nephew and two locals, and Jane may have a new beau; both enhance the prime story line of what happened over five decades ago that haunt Lyndie and Tessa.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2013

    Love Jane Lawless - just did not love this one.

    Couldn't reconcile the ending.

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  • Posted November 29, 2012

    I love all the Jane Lawless books, but this one is Ellen Hart's

    I love all the Jane Lawless books, but this one is Ellen Hart's supreme best. The psychological story--the intertwining of a sobering youthful mistake and a beautiful present-day relationship, along with Tessa's efforts to protect her relationship from her past--is even more intriguing than the whodunit plot. The complexities of Jonah's trying to fit himself into an unraveling family add depth to a deeply moving story. It is the emotional impact of this novel that makes it more than a light mystery read.

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