***** - Black Lake Manor
BLACK LAKE MANOR
A brutal murder. And a killer who can unwind time...
In the former mining town of Black Lake, there is an old story about a shipwreck with only one survivor. His descendants have a unique ability: once in their lives - and only once - they can unwind the events of the previous six hours.
More than two hundred years later, part-time police constable Ella Manning is attending a party at Black Lake Manor, the cliff-top mansion belonging to the local billionaire. When a raging storm sweeps in from the Pacific, she and several other guests find themselves trapped. And when their host is discovered brutally murdered in his study the next morning, the door locked from the inside, they turn to her to solve the crime.
Pushing her detective skills to the limit, against the odds Ella is sure she has identified the killer... but then someone undoes time. With no memory of what she discovered before, her investigation begins again, with very different results.
Which of her suspects is guilty? And is there something even more sinister she is yet to uncover? Can she solve the mystery before time runs out... again?
MY REVIEW *****
If, like me, you’re a fan of ‘The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’ by Stuart Turton then Black Lake Manor is the book for you. A wolf that can eat time and a murder to solve all on a remote island full of expensive technology – it’s certainly an intriguing premise!
The book is narrated from the perspective of Ella, a woman with a lot of jobs and secrets who openly prefers animals to people. I must admit I found Ella’s character to be a little jumbled: she’s a marine biologist, she’s a cop, she’s the ex-fiancée of the victim and she’s ex-best friends with one of the suspects – it all seemed a little too convenient to be that realistic. I think the cop angle was only really thrown in to give her a reason to want to solve or take the lead on the case but she didn’t really seem to have that much experience in that role so it could have been taken out.
The book presents a locked room mystery and the cast of characters is quite small – there’s Ella, her ex-fiancé Lincoln, an old friend who has recently been sent to jail, a lawyer, the new girlfriend, the head of security and a young helper. Each character as well defined though and had distinct personalities, there’s also a lot of room for red herrings in here and my mind was racing for all angles as I tried to work out what was going on. We also jump backwards in time at various points which the main character is unaware of. These leads to some repetition in events but the author does well to keep each time around feeling fresh and new. If you’ve read a few books of a similar nature though you will notice something straight away which is a big spoiler to the end of the book!
The novel also has a few flashbacks, and I particularly enjoyed the story of Ella and Maq in the caves during their teenage years. I found the imagery to be really claustrophobic and the descriptions made the experience feel real. There were also a few flashbacks to a crew onboard the Pride of Whitby in the distant past, and although these started off interesting, it was hard to see how they linked to the present-day narrative, even later in the book, which became frustrating when you just wanted to work out who the killer was. There is a lot going on in this narrative and even when how the person died is explained it seemed quite confusing in places.
Overall, Black Lake Manor is a fun locked room mystery with a time-rewinding twist. Thank you to NetGalley & Serpents Tail/Viper/Profile Books for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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