By: Amber Cowie
Publisher: Lake Union
Publication Date: 11/10/20
My Rating: 5 Stars + Author Q&A Interview Top Books 2020 A new town, a new life, and a new home—with an absolutely chilling lakefront view. Two months a widow, Mallory Dent has made the impulsive decision to pack up and move on. In remote McNamara, nestled in the northern mountains, she can escape her grief, guilt, and pain.
But the day Mallory arrives, death follows her, lapping just outside her door. A woman’s body is found floating in Loss Lake—and it’s not the first death on these shores. Locals talk about a monster in the depths with an almost disturbing reverence. Sergeant Joel Benson understands Mallory’s unease. Years ago, his own brother was killed in the home Mallory now owns. But that was just a tragic accident. Wasn’t it? The more Mallory investigates, the more fearful she becomes. Maybe there are monsters in McNamara. Maybe some have followed her there. As a winter storm bears down, the refuge Mallory sought has become a trap. It’s time to face her past, the secrets behind the town’s friendly faces, and a reckoning that will shatter the eerie, icy calm of Loss Lake.
Nov 10, 2020
LOVED! Amber Cowie returns from her smashing debut Rapid Falls and follow up Raven Lane with her best yet —LOSS LAKE.
There is a monster. Is the monster in the lake, or is it within us? Often it is right in front of us.
Superbly written, LOSS LAKE is evocative, dark, deep, chilling, gripping, emotional, and atmospheric— a spellbinding thought-provoking blend of a riveting suspenseful mystery, with elements of mystical, psychological, and literary thriller fiction rolled into one with a Hitchcockian twist!
Forty-year-old Mallory Dent (former nurse) travels 1300 miles north on a new journey and a new chapter in her life. She is leaving all the grief and people behind and moving to a new small town of McNamara. A beautiful remote lakefront home. She senses the lake is awaiting her as much as she has been anticipating her new life.
A recent widow from Vancouver, her husband Graham, recently died with a lingering illness. She had contacted the real estate agency and purchased the small ranch house without seeing it and told herself it was a gift to be reckless for change. It was time she leaves her home and its memories. However, once she arrived in this small, close-knit rural town with its hardware, real estate, grocery, pub, and families—a place where everyone knows your business. Everyone seemed to be connected or related.
The house is older and built in the mid-60s, and soon after she arrives, she discovers some shocking news. Sergeant Joel Benson (hunk) arrived on her doorstep to inform her someone had drowned. Also, she soon discovers he was killed in her house (shot)—a fact she did not recall her real estate agent informing her. Here she is trying to leave her grief and past and now this.
She quickly meets up with several colorful ladies and neighbors. Some friendly, some not. Many of these people seemed angry and did not welcome new people very quickly.
However, the lake has its monsters. Mallory soon learned there were horrors and deaths. Legends of a monster in the lake.
The lakefront was picturesque and surrounded by forest, and this Sergeant Joel Benson seemed intriguing and sexy. She is attracted to him for some reason.
His sister Kylie befriends her, and Mallory wants to know more about this town. She continues to hear the talk of the monster in the lake. Seemed these deaths took place in October and started with the flood in 1974. The lake takes those who are evil.
She is not sure she feels safe being here after being a spoiled urbanite and maybe was too hasty to move here. This was supposed to be a place to heal, not to be fearful.
Slowly Mallory realizes things are not right, and everyone seems to be related to one another with something to hide. From the strange requests of hunting on her land to the snow globes and talk of monsters.
If someone were killed in her house, could someone be after her too? She soon learns it was the brother who was killed. After all these years, they have not found the killer? She begins her own investigation.
Now another accident/murder/suicide? However, what is scarier is she knows this person and is the last to see them. She must learn more about the deaths, this town, its history, and the people. However, she puts herself in danger by getting too close. Someone is stalking around her house, and she no longer feels safe. She may uncover more than she wants.
But the question is, who are the monsters? Often the monsters can be right in front us of. Often they are within fighting the battle between good and evil. Out of the characters, you will meet, you must decide who is the killer and why and who is part of the cover-up? The truth is easy to miss when its right in front of us.
In Cowie's skillful hands, this story of obsession, murder, grief, and the search for truth is both a compassionate character study and a compelling psychological mystery thriller. What I enjoy about Amber's novels that set her apart: her books make you think. That is why I love reading. People may read the same books and have a different takeaway.
I have read many reviews stating they did not like the abrupt ending. I cannot think of any other way to end and thought it was perfection. Is she setting it up for a possible sequel (let's hope) or a future book, or is she leaving you to draw your own conclusion?
I love her settings (I am a nature gal at heart). There is always a hidden meaning with her books, and often the skilled author allows the savvy reader to seek and find the answer or draw a conclusion. A metaphor, symbol, a teaser —she always keeps you guessing.
Her well-developed characters have something to hide. Good stories do not give up their secrets early on. She may not tell you everything, but slowly their demons and inner turmoil are unraveled. The author smoothly mixes red herrings and sprinkles clues. Readers who like a good psychological puzzle will be rewarded.
There are themes of grief, guilt, greed, and loyalty. Something or someone may be weighing them down. The outdoor elements and settings draw you in. Water can be beautiful, but dangerous. The same with people. Good vs. evil. LOSS LAKE would make for an excellent series for the small or widescreen!
There are monsters. But are they part of myth, legend, or monsters within us? Are they real?
Some characters are seeking absolution, retribution, resolution, and some escaping or hiding their past. Some want to start over, but their past haunts them. Some things can weigh the soul. Some try and protect themselves or others. Our actions or those of others cause consequences.
LOSS LAKE is vivid, symbolic, and full of dark family secrets in this small rural town—the perfect eerie setting for Halloween!
In my opinion, her writing moves to a different higher level. Both plot and character-driven, Cowie delivers an addictive, totally unputdownable thriller with an explosive killer jaw-dropping ending. Trust NO one! I highly recommend it if you like sophisticated literary mystery thrillers.
For me, literary mystery thrillers are rich, evocative, lyrical, in-depth characterization, and balanced with emotion, mystery, and wit. They wake up your brain and your heart. These mysteries are more than a typical whodunit. The characters are complex, the storyline intriguing, and the language is rich.
A few authors excel in this category, and my favorites are Randall Silvis, T. Greenwood, Wendy Walker, Karen Katchur, AJ Banner, Christina McDonald, and Amber Cowie. I enjoy literary mystery thrillers. If you are not sure what this genre means: A thriller is a genre of literature, film, and television whose primary feature is that it induces strong feelings of excitement, anxiety, tension, suspense, fear, and other similar emotions in its readers or viewers—in other words, media that thrills the audience.
I am a big fan of this style and resonates. Often there is less action, and the author can slow down the narrative to focus on the character and what is going on around them. Often they are mind-bending. Everyone has their own definition. I enjoy being in the moment. I want to be aware of everything going on around the characters and inside their head, and the setting.
On a side note: this was discussed in a recent interview I had with Author Randall Silvis (Q4 & 5):
A quote from Randall: "Plot points don't matter nearly as much as the characters' journey does—how the character responds to conflict and the empathy that grows between the reader and the characters throughout the course of those struggles. Good fiction is all about that reader-character connection. Plot-driven fiction appeals to the brain and the adrenal glands, but the best fiction speaks to the heart."
I cannot wait to see what is next from Amber! Stay tuned for Nov 10th pub day with an unforgettable Elevator Ride with the Author Interview to discover more about the story behind the story and this exciting author.
In the meantime, I highly recommend (read my reviews) Rapid Falls, Raven Lane, and check out her fabulous essays, short stories, articles, and blogs on her website. Check out my Q&A with her debut Rapid Falls!
“Meditative, eerie, and surreal like the best fairy tales are, Amber Cowie’s Loss Lake builds in quiet strength until the final delivery of a knockout punch.” -— Emily Carpenter, author of Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters
“Hypnotic and irresistible, you won’t be able to look away.” —-Christina McDonald USA Today Bestselling Author
“The characters and shocking plot twists make it impossible to put this book down.” —-Carl Vanderau author of Murderbilia, winner of Left Coast Crime 2020 Best Debut Mystery
“A perfect diversion for a long, chilly night. Amber Cowie delivers a mystery that tastes like Halloween.” —-Andres Pyper author of The Residence and The Demonologist
About the Author
Amber Cowie is a novelist and freelance writer living in a small town on the west coast of British Columbia.
Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Salon, Crime Reads and Knitty, among other publications. Her debut novel, Rapid Falls, was a runner up in the Whistler Book Awards and hit number one on the Kindle Bestsellers list as well as the top 100 books in the Kindle Store. She has appeared at Left Coast Crime, the Pacific Northwest Writers Festival, and the Whistler Writers Festival. She serves on the board of Sisters in Crime Canada West and is a member of several writing groups. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Victoria.
She is a mother of two, wife of one, reader of many and writer of suspense novels. She likes skiing, running and making up stories that make her internet search history unnerving.