The Bottom Line: An unforgettable small town crime thriller by one of the genre’s most exciting new voices.
Charlie Tyler’s debut novel begins as six-year-old Lily discovers a dead body and, with the help of her sister, dumps it in a lake. The deceased is Amelie Townsend, a student of Lily’s father, who is a teacher at the local village school. Ten years later, she meets a girl whose father is accused of the murder.
Told in chapters that alternate between different points of view (and occasionally alternating character names), The Cry of the Lake will be revered by fans of non-linear narratives. Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Lily’s attempts to remember the vivid details of the tragic event that forever sullied her childhood are naturally unreliable. While readers may be intentionally disoriented in the early going, Tyler’s lively prose and rich characterization make The Cry of the Lake impossible to put down. Adding to the book’s charm are a fully developed world complete with enchanting local folklore.
From the book’s arresting first line (“Death smells of macaroons”) to offbeat inner dialogue (“For the first time in ages, we actually had something in common; we were both murderers.”), expect to spend ample time highlighting Tyler’s ingenious word craft. While a touch of the macabre is unavoidable in a book about child murder, Tyler never veers into overly graphic violence, and even manages a regular cadence of wit. Highly recommended.