Crowded Cabins and Murder

What Happened at the Lake by Phil M. Williams is remarkable first for the number of characters introduced throughout the story. Second is either the complete lack of character development (see Kate and Whitney or Ed the septic tank man) or characters that contradict themselves (Kristin for only one example). At the thirty percent mark, I still had to stop and consider how a mentioned character related to others, even those in the central “crew.” This group is a large dysfunctional family which for some reason consented to go on vacation together. We can blame Alex, not the family patriarch, for deciding to call each of the eleven family members and invite them to a rented house near a lake where, perhaps, long-standing family issues can be worked out. I was busily highlighting family names and trying to figure out family relationships and family problems when I came across this passage in chapter ten at the 17% point in the novel. Maybe Williams was taking pity on the reader and was offering a helpful summary of characters. It didn’t help.

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