What Happened at the Lake by Phil M. Williams — A Review

What Happened at the Lake by Phil M. Williams

RaeleighReads rating: love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236

Trigger warnings: rape, sexual violence, murder

Whew! This one had some intense moments!

The Palmer family goes on vacation in Tennessee, but not everyone who goes on that trip makes it back home. Alex Palmer and his wife Emma are the organizers of this family getaway, and they’ve invited everyone — all of Alex’s siblings, their spouses and significant others, his father and his stepmom, and his daughter and her boyfriend.

The family dynamics alone are enough to make this a good read, but Williams adds to this with some incredibly graphic and disturbing violence. In fact, that’s how the book starts. The first chapter turned my stomach, but I kept reading because I wanted to know where Williams was going with all of it.

The next 30-40% of the book was fairly boring to be honest. There was too much telling me what each character thought and did, but I’m a lover of description. This is not to say that Williams does not possess incredible powers of description. He certainly does, but he uses them for describing the brutal sexual assaults and murders that occurred on the lake the Palmer family was visiting.

When the action picks up in this novel, it nearly speeds out of control. What remains in the last quarter of the book is a father’s desperation and love for his daughter. For me, that was the most compelling part of this book — Alex Palmer’s quest to find out what happened to his daughter.

To me, Alex was the only fully realized character in this whole book. A few others — his father Harvey and brothers Matt and Jeff — were filled out to some extent, but for many of the other characters, I was left wanting more. Because I did not feel much of a connection to the large cast in this book, it dropped my rating from what would have been four coffee cups to three.

I mentioned trigger warnings of murder, sexual violence, and rape at the beginning of this post, and I want to reiterate that here. Those scenes were incredibly graphic and difficult to read at times. If you are at all turned off by those kinds of images, do not read this.

If you’re a fan of thrillers and family drama (and possess an iron stomach), this book is for you.