The Lake, the second installment in Amanda McKinney’s Berry Springs series, is a small town murder mystery at heart, seasoned with a side of romance and cyber-espionage. The novel follows FBI agent Ethan Veech, who is ostensibly on “vacation” in a small southern town, and white collar criminal Jolene Reeves, a bad girl with a heart of gold.
McKinney frequently swaps between following these two leads and several side character, which often means we know more about what’s happening then the characters themselves. The novel starts leisurely, taking ample time to set up the relationships between its characters before the bodies start to drop. A relationship between Ethan and Jolene develops in tandem with the investigation, and McKinney doesn’t skimp on the risque details.
For all this buildup, the climax of the novel comes far too quickly and the entire affair is over almost before you realize it. However, McKinney does a good job of keeping the reader guessing throughout the novel, with some genuine surprises. The Lake doesn’t rewrite the rules of its genre, but it is a solidly entertaining mystery, especially for those who like their mysteries with a dash of romance, and readers will want to pick up other books in the series.