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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Lake County

Narrators: Marli Watson, Aaron Shedlock Brilliance Audio

ISBN: 9781662519932

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication Date: 06/01/2024

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)

Set in the 1950s, this Southern Gothic thriller by Edgar Award–winning author Lori Roy reimagines the life of Marilyn Monroe, tying her fate to a dreamy teenager whose boyfriend runs afoul of the mob.

Desperate to break free of small-town Florida, Addie Anne Buckley dreams of following in the path of her glamorous aunt Jean—known to the world as Marilyn Monroe. When Aunt Jean plans a trip to Hollywood for Addie’s eighteenth birthday, Addie sees her chance to escape.

One thing stands in her way: her boyfriend. Truitt Holt is Addie’s first and only love and will be joining her in California. But days before Addie’s due to leave, Truitt does an about-face and gives her a painful ultimatum: stay and marry him, or they’re through. Addie chooses her dream.

Hurt and angry, Truitt unwittingly exposes the illegal bolita game he’s been running in mob territory. Now the Tampa mafia is after him, and he has until midnight to cut a deal that will save his life and Addie’s. What he doesn’t know…his trouble with the mob has already found Addie and her family. She’s already in a fight for her life.

My Review

Lori Roy's latest novel, LAKE COUNTY, is a nostalgic suspense with Gothic vibes set in the 1950s with an intriguing reimaging of the life of the iconic Marilyn Monroe, tying her fate to a dreamy teen whose boyfriend is part of the mob.


Addie Anne Buckley would like to escape her small Florida town and dreams of following in the path of her glamorous aunt Jean—known to the world as Marilyn Monroe. When Aunt Jean plans a trip to Hollywood for Addie’s eighteenth birthday, Addie knows this is her chance!

However, Truitt, Addie's love, will be joining her in Hollywood. From there, they will travel to New York just in time for Aunt Jean's birthday and the premiere of The Seven Year Itch. She will be her date, walk the red carpet, and smile as flashbulbs snap in her face.

No one, not even Aunt Jean, knew Addie would not be returning. No one except Truitt. She would not miss him for long, as he would join her at the right time.

However, things do not go as planned. Her boyfriend gives her an ultimatum. Now the Tampa mafia is after him in a race against time to save his life and Addies. But he may be too late.

Will Addie make it to California with Aunt Jean?

My thoughts...

LAKE COUNTY is a fun, quirky, entertaining, interesting reimagining (fictional) version of a real-life Hollywood movie star, Marilyn Monroe, and historical figures.

It features a cast of colorful characters and is blended with humor, suspense, mystery, history, intrigue, murder, mafia, mayhem, organized crime, ambition, obsession, family, friendship, secrets, and romance.

It is set in the fictional town of Hockta, FL which the author placed in Lake County, but the actual location is in Central Florida. As a Florida resident for over twenty years, I enjoy stories past and present set in the state, and I grew up in the 1950s in the South.


For fans of Camille Di Maio's The Beautiful Strangers and if you enjoy old Florida, crime thrillers, and Hollywood in the 1950s, this is for you. Grab this one for your summer beach bag!

Thanks to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy for review purposes.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4 Stars

Pub Date: June 1, 2024

From the Publisher

In this immersive page-turner from the two-time winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award—the most prestigious award for the mystery genre—Lori Roy has crafted a novel with both a twisty plot and emotional heft. I will admit…there were some tears shed while reading the final pages.

Addie Anne Buckley is about to turn eighteen and follow in her Aunt Jean’s footsteps to Hollywood, and her boyfriend, Truitt Holt, is successfully running the local bolita lottery, when their lives crash into the Tampa Mafia, an obsessive photographer, and more than one dead body. They will be put into dangerous—potentially fatal—positions in order to save all they hold dear. Oh, and Addie’s Aunt Jean? She’s also known by the name Marilyn Monroe.

Lake County is a truly mesmerizing read from one of the most acclaimed mystery writers working today. New York Times bestselling author Ace Atkins might have said it best in his praise for Lake County: “James M. Cain meets Harper Lee.”

—Liz Pearsons, Editor


“Roy keeps things taut and tense throughout, springing surprises and making all her characters count.”

―Kirkus Reviews

“Roy is as adept as ever at bringing the South’s beauty and soft-edged dangers to life. In this complex tale, fierce family love is pitted against ambition, obsession, and contested power.” ―Booklist

“Lake County is an irresistible slice of Florida noir fashioned of great American mythmaking. James M. Cain meets Harper Lee. The story excels as both an exciting crime novel and a fine example of Southern literature.”

―Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author of Don’t Let the Devil Ride

“Suspenseful, atmospheric, and surprising, Lake County pulls you and slowly ups the tension until you’re holding your breath. Another remarkable crime novel from Lori Roy.”

―Meg Gardiner, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Lake County is the best book yet in Lori Roy’s remarkable career, a beautifully written blend of suspense and heartache, where Hollywood longings intersect with Florida crime syndicates in an ever-intensifying squeeze. An atmospheric, haunting read.”

―Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of An Honest Man

About the Author

Photo by Val Ritter

Lori Roy’s debut novel, Bent Road, was awarded the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Novel by an American Author. Her work has been twice named a New York Times Notable Crime Book and has been included on various “best of” and summer reading lists. Until She Comes Home was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a finalist for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel.

Let Me Die in His Footsteps was included among the top fiction of 2015 by Books-A-Million and named one of the best fifteen mystery novels of 2015 by Oline Cogdill. The novel also received the 2016 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel, making Roy the first woman to receive an Edgar Award for both Best First Novel and Best Novel―and only the third person ever to have done so. Gone Too Long was named a People Magazine Book of the Week, was named one of the Best Books of Summer 2019, and was excerpted by O, The Oprah Magazine.

Roy lives with her family in West Central Florida. WEBSITE







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