Friday, June 4, 2010

Review: The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

Genre: Murder mystery
Publisher: Heinemann, 2002


Twenty years ago, Jane Hudson fled the Heart Lake School for Girls in the Adirondacks after a terrible tragedy. The week before her graduation, three lives were taken, all victims of suicide. Only Jane was left to carry the burden of a mystery that has stayed hidden in the depths of Heart Lake for more than two decades. Now Jane has returned to the school as a Latin teacher, recently separated and hoping to make a fresh start with her young daughter. But ominous messages from the past dredge up forgotten memories. And young, troubled girls are beginning to die again — as, piece by piece, the shattering truth slowly floats to the surface...........

I enjoy Carol Goodman's books but had never read this one, her debut novel. In it she establishes a format that now makes her work easily recognised, the use of classical, literary and art themes around which she weaves her plot. Here it is the 'dead language', Latin..........Latin classes, Latin phrases, classical poetry and drama and pagan celebrations all add interest to what would otherwise be a fairly ordinary and predictable suspense story.

The setting is wonderfully described although at times it goes into overchill - an icy frozen lake, snowdrifts and howling blizzards create an atmosphere that is cold enough to give even the reader frostbite.
Lots of negative teenage girl issues - self injury, pregnancy, suicide - to add to the bleakness but again it's almost too much and would have been better balanced if the young characters hadn't been so fixated on these things and were allowed to express some happier emotions.

The story moves easily between the present and Jane's frequent flashbacks to the past until the pieces come together to reveal the truth in a slightly disappointing ending.

Overall - nothing to knock my socks off but ok!

What's in a Name Challenge 3
Thriller/Suspense Challenge


  1. Not sock knocking, lol, yeah now that was not a saying anymore ;)
    Ok is ok sometimes

  2. I just love the title of this book. Thanks for the balanced review.