The Lost Women of Lost Lake (Jane Lawless Series #19)by Ellen Hart
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
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 Lakethe most engrossing mystery yet from Lambda and Minnesota Book Award–winning author Ellen HartJane'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.
“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 on Sweet Poison
“Hart is at the top of her game.” Curve Magazine on The Mortal Groove
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.
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.
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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.
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
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
Couldn't reconcile the ending.
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.