Saturday, August 06, 2011

Review: "Lake Charles" by Ed Lynskey

It is 1979 and Brendan Fishback isn’t doing too well in the game called life. Waking up next to a dead woman can cause huge problems. The fact that she, Ashleigh Sizemore, was the daughter of the wealthy and powerfully connected, Ralph Sizemore is a huge problem. Word is old Ralph is going to be a Senator. The fact that drugs were planted in the room is a huge issue. The fact that Brendan keeps having strange dreams and visions where the dead teenage girl talks to him about her murder is a huge problem.

Despite the odds and the nice frame job against him, Brendan Fishback gets out on bail.  Besides avoiding the shyster slime ball lawyer his mother, Mama Jo, hired for him Brendan plans to go fishing with his brother in law and good friend, Cobb Kuzawa. A quiet couple of days at Lake Charles, a local man-made lake created by the Tennessee Valley Authority, will be as good a break as he can get these days.

Like Brandan, the best days seem to have gone by the lake as it and the surrounding area is in bad shape. If trying to detox from all the pot he has done isn’t enough, the area flat out reeks and is depressing to look at. Back in the day, it used to be a happening place. Not only is nobody apparently around, but there is the stench of rot and decay at the marina area and large sections of the lake are fouled by algae scum. Not only do they have to get the bass boats through that, Brendon has to listen to his sister Edna and Cobb bicker.

Edna invited herself along and that had not been the plan. What been initially planned as a guy trip has mutated into a cranky family outing. Edna and Cobb fight constantly and both of them are driving him nuts. Clearly, Edna should have never married Cobb and certainly she should never have come on the trip. They are driving each other nuts too and before long Edna rockets away on her jet ski towards the dam area leaving the other two behind on the lake in their boats.

And she never comes back.

The search is soon on and leads Brendan and Cobb into a violent confrontation. The first of many confrontations proving that the lake area is not at all deserted like they thought. Brendan wants his sister back, alive and in one piece, and knows too well they can’t get help from the corrupt local police. The trail of the missing Edna leads back and forth across the Lake Charles area and the Tennessee Mountains while Brendan soldiers on getting the answers he seeks. Some of them won’t be pretty.

The front cover has a blurb quote from author Ed Gorman, “Lake Charles is going to scorch your soul . . . I loved it.”  That pretty much sums up things very well for this very complicated book where everyone has a dark backstory that gradually comes out. A dark and twisted noir tale that starts with a bang and goes in many different ways by use of dreams and flashbacks and forward literary narrative before bringing the whole thing to a surprising conclusion. 

Simply put, Lake Charles by Ed Lynskey is a mighty good book and one well worth your time.

Lake Charles
Ed Lynskey
Wildside Press LLC
June 2011
ISBN# 978-1-4344-3046-5
192 Pages (includes one page of reference sources)

Material supplied by the author in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2011


Morgan Mandel said...

I hope none of those things happen when we go back Up North on our vacation!

Morgan Mandel

Kevin R. Tipple said... very careful.