A shocking secret between siblings partway through The Lake of Dead Languages sets off a torrent of Hitchcockian plot twists-and-turns as windy as the windiest mountain road with as many blind curves you never see coming, until … until it’s too late and you sit stunned, eyes all enormo-like, like you’re driving off a cliff, too shocked to scream. Though I’m not suggesting you disregard the first 243 pages of what’s an already intriguing whodunit mystery staged around a lost journal and an oft-lethal lake prone to apparent suicidal drownings (or might they be murders?) in the austere snowbound Adirondacks; it’s just that Carol Goodman so ups the macabre, gothic ante in the novel’s concluding chapters that as a reader you’re all-in no matter what.
Need I praise more the exceeding Excellency of The Lake of Dead Languages? I could further extol the virtues of its liberal use of Latin, or champion the literary allusive depths it plunges, how a working knowledge of Virgil’s, The Aeneid, in particular, aids and enriches our psychological/motivational understanding of the painful choices made by the main characters, Jane Hudson (our narrator-heroine), and Lucy and Dr. Lockhart; as well as foreshadowing the varied dire consequences and outcomes of these character’s actions, for those, that is, who are in tune with the designs of Virgil’s ancient classic. But I’ll conclude and say no more, other than what a delight to have “discovered” the debut novel from one Carol Goodman, which launched what looks to be an extraordinary career.