The House Across the Lake: A Novel
The lake is darker than a coffin with the lid shut.
That’s what Marnie used to say, back when we were children and she was constantly trying to scare me. It’s an exaggeration, to be sure. But not by much. Lake Greene’s water is dark, even with light trickling through it.
A coffin with the lid cracked.
Out of the water, you can see clearly for about a foot beneath the surface before it starts to get cloudy. Then inky. Then dark as a grave. It’s worse when you’re fully submerged, the shimmer of light coming from above a stark contrast to the black depths below.
When we were kids bobbing in the middle of the lake, Marnie often dared me to swim past the point of visibility until I touched bottom. I tried many times but never succeeded. Lost in the darkness, I always got disoriented, turned around, swam up when I thought I was headed down. I’d emerge breathless, confused, and slightly unnerved by the difference between water and sky.
On the surface, it was bright day.
Just below, the night waited.
On shore, five houses sit beside the dark water of Lake Greene, ranging in style from comfortably quaint to conspicuously modern. In the summer, when the Green Mountain State is at full splendor and each house is packed with friends, family members, and weekenders, they glow like beacons signaling safe port. Through the windows, one can see well-lit rooms filled with people eating and drinking, laughing and arguing, playing games and sharing secrets.
It changes in the off-season, when the houses go quiet, first during the week, then on weekends as well. Not that they’re empty. Far from it. Autumn lures people to Vermont just as much as summer. But the mood is different. Muted. Solemn. By mid-October, it feels like the darkness of the lake has flooded the shore and seeped into the houses themselves, dimming their light.
This is especially true of the house directly across the lake.
Made of glass, steel, and stone, it reflects the chilly water and the gray autumn sky, using them to mask whatever might be happening inside. When the lights are on, you can see past the surface, but only so far. It’s like the lake in that regard. No matter how much you look, something just beneath the surface will always remain hidden.
I should know.
I’ve been watching.
This book would not exist without the assistance and support of many wonderful people. Chief among them are my editor, Maya Ziv, and my agent, Michelle Brower, who cheered me on from the moment I first told them the bonkers plot of this book. Without their encouragement, there’d be no Casey, no Katherine, no house across Lake Greene.
Thank you to Emily Canders, Katie Taylor, Stephanie Cooper, Lexy Cassola, Christine Ball, Ivan Held, John Parsley, and everyone at Dutton and Penguin Random House for their hard work and support. On the business side, I’m indebted to Erin Files, Arlie Johansen, Sean Daily, Shenel Ekici-Moling, Kate Mack, and Maggie Cooper.
Sarah Dutton deserves a place in the First Reader Hall of Fame for diving into uncertain waters each and every book. Her keen insights and unvarnished opinions are invaluable.
Thank you to all the family members and friends who continue to cheer me on from the sidelines. Even though we saw a lot less of each other in the past two years, you are always in my thoughts.
Finally, massive thanks go to Michael Livio, whose love and patience helped me get through writing another book during a global pandemic. I truly couldn’t do this without you.
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|Epub, PDF||June 23, 2022|