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September 8, 2012 / John Sheridan

Review: Lake Country by Sean Doolittle


Links: Amazon, Amazon UK

I had read one of Sean Doolittle’s books previously, The Cleanup, for which he won a Barry award in 2007 so I was a little familiar with his work (and had purchased another which may be in e-reader heaven along with my Sony 505). I’ll have to hold my hands up here and say I’ve been very neglectful in posting my review of Lake Country which I actually read back in June and I’ve been meaning to post a review ever since. Problem was that I was enjoying the book so much as I was reading it that I failed to take any notes whatsoever on general impressions, characters etc so that I was lacking the essential details to write a review but I’ll endeavour to put that right now.

The story opens with Darryl Potter and Mike Barlowe both ex-marines watching tv coverage on the death of a sophomore student killed five years previously in a road accident when the driver of the other car fell asleep at the wheel. With the driver of the car, Wade Benson, having attracted a lenient sentence, Darryl feels plenty aggrieved on behalf of Evan Morse, his former marine squad mate and brother to the dead girl who fell victim to an IED on the same day she died. Potter decides to exact some retribution on behalf of his fallen comrade which kinda leaves his good pal Barlowe in the shit the next day when Darryl’s erstwhile employer Toby Lunden kicks in his door looking for him and his missing money somewhere north of ten grand. As Toby is brains rather than muscle he’s retained the services of Bryce to do the heavy lifting for him. This will unfortunately add to the problems as Bryce himself says later when seeking to extract information from one of Darryl’s acquaintances –
Now, I can sense you’re a man with some principles. I respect that. Problem is, me, not so much.

We’re subsequently introduced to Maya Lamb the tv reporter covering the story who will fill a pivotal role in resolving things but for the moment she’s one of the last people to have seen the daughter of Wade Benson who is now missing. Soon the police will be looking for Darryl even more earnestly than Toby and Bryce. This leaves Mike in a big hole and the only guy that can save Darryl from himself and just maybe free the girl provided he can escape the attentions of the police and Bryce just long enough to stay alive.

Written in the third person so the reader is always one step ahead of the characters. The author does a great job of presenting the emotional pull of marines defending each other’s backs in a combat zone and totally convinces in what they mean to each other. Doolittle excels in crafting characters that you care about even Darryl Potter, the dumb schmuck that causes all the problems!

This is one well worth reading, my rating is 9 out of 10. Also reviewed at The Rap Sheet.

Five years ago, successful architect Wade Benson killed a young woman when he fell asleep at the wheel. His punishment: two days in jail for every year of his probation. But for one friend of the victim’s family—an ex-marine named Darryl Potter—this punishment isn’t enough. Potter sets out to even the score by kidnapping Benson’s twenty-year-old daughter. It’s a bad, bad plan, and only Mike Barlowe, Potter’s former combat buddy, knows how to stop it. With a beautiful news reporter, the cops, and a bounty hunter on Potter’s tail, Barlowe races to head off his troubled friend before innocent people get hurt. The hunters and the hunted plunge north into Minnesota’s Lake Country, each with their own ambitions and demons, each headed for a violent collision—and for one horrifying moment of life or death.


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  1. techeditor / Sep 9 2012 11:44 am

    I read this book back in June, too. My honest opinion differs from yours.

    I know better. But I believed an author recommendation of LAKE COUNTRY. That’s because the author I believed is Dennis Lehane, an excellent author, one of my favorites, and a master thriller writer, which is what LAKE COUNTRY is supposed to be. But I know because I’ve seen and been told by the writers themselves that good writers often recommend books not on the basis of the books but on the basis of either their friendship with or empathy for the authors of those books. Lehane and other writers who are guilty of this do their readers a disservice, and that’s not good business.

    Obviously, I did not enjoy LAKE COUNTRY. I thought it was a thriller. And it could have been. But it takes 150 pages to get to anything thrilling. First are introductions to the characters and the beginnings of their stories. There’s a TV news woman who keeps coming in handy to the police and gets herself involved in the investigation. There’s a guy trying to bully his way into the action. There’s the beautiful college girl who is kidnapped by a guy who is mad at the girl’s father; the kidnapper was a Marine and in Iraq with a guy whose sister was accidentally killed by the girl’s father. (HUH?) And we have our good guy Mike, a friend of the kidnapper, who tries to make things right.

    When the book finally gets to thrills, it’s only thrilling off and on; other chapters containing boring stories are stuck in here and there.

    The end felt like “the end”; it leaves lots of questions and is as if the book is missing a final chapter.

    I won this book through the Early Reviewers program.

    • John Sheridan / Sep 9 2012 3:34 pm

      Thanks for sharing. It’s always good to hear other people’s views as a reminder that ultimately personal taste will decide whether anyone will like a particular book. Having read Sean Doolittle previously as I stated in the review I obviously am predisposed to liking his books or I just wouldn’t read another one. Please let us know what you think of any of the other books reviewed that you may have read.

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