Indie Spotlight #2: The Cry of the Lake (by Charlie Tyler)
Updated: Sep 5, 2020
Welcome back to our monthly Indie Spotlight, where we take a bit of time to show some love to the great titles out there that might have flown under your radar.
This month I'm delighted to shine a little light on the fabulous psychological murder mystery, The Cry of the Lake by Charlie Tyler.
For me, there's nothing less interesting than a mystery unfolding by-the-numbers, dropping in red herrings, teased plot threads, or a story more concerned with the who and how of the dastardly deeds in question than the far more delicious why.
I'm so pleased to say that The Cry of the Lake is anything but by-the-numbers.
The fascinating murder plot actually serves two purposes. First, to be a fascinating murder plot... obviously. And second, as a means for the author to take us deep into the minds of two horribly damaged people and exploring the circumstances that brought the killer to such a deadly destinations. We learn within the first page who the murderer is, and the author then spends the next 250 pages showing us what can drive a person to kill, and by the end, I have to say, there's a little part of the reader that will kind of be rooting for the antagonist.
This book is an unflinching character-study, examining intense issues such as sexual abuse, repressed trauma, gas-lighting, and how a victim of terrible crimes can go on to become a tragic perpetrator.
To go too much further into the plot would be a disservice the book, but what I will say is the story is told through three separate points of view: The mute Lily, a teenager haunted by the repressed memories from a former life. Flo, Lily's best friend and confidante, who serves as a welcome anchor and fresh perspective against the dark, and twisted details of Lily's past.
Then there is Grace - Lily's controlling, sociopath of an elder sister.
Grace might be one of the most memorable characters I've encountered this year. Unpredictable, conniving, and ruthless enough to inspire real fear, while at times, sympathetic enough to twist your heart. By far the MVP of the book, and the driving force behind the more disturbing scenes, Grace is a character that arrives fully formed and when more about her origins are revealed (contrary to the norm) she is only enhanced as the story's most compelling creation.
There are two further things to say about the book itself. First, it employs regular use of flashbacks throughout its main plot line, which in another author's hands could have become an annoying facet of the story. But here, they're included at such well-timed points, and never cheaply, that their presence is more welcome than you might expect. No mean feat.
Second, this is a story populated by characters operating with false names, unreliable narrators, the aforementioned gas-lighting, and a non-linear structure. In short, it doesn't take you gently by the hand and guide you from A to B. This is a complex and intricately constructed story and is not for those inclined to skim-read or dally through without engaging the mental muscles.
But those that do will be rewarded for their efforts.
All in all, this is a fantastic book that will stay with you long after the final page is turned, with characters that imprint themselves in your mind, and a plot that will make your toes curl (but you won't be able to look away).
You can find out more about Charlie Tyler and her work at her website: https://www.charlietyler.com
The Cry of the Lake is available in all the usual booky formats on Amazon - I strongly advise you check it out here