It’s fall. Bring on the apple cider doughnuts, pumpkin spice and of course, haunted houses. Fall is also the perfect time to cozy up in an oversized flannel out on the deck with a coffee in one hand and a thriller in the other. It’s also the time of year when everyone and their mother heads to Vermont.
So of course, you need the perfect Vermont thriller and that comes in the form of The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager.
The main character, Casey, has recently lost her husband left the bright lights of New York City for a quieter retreat in the Vermont wilderness. As one of the few cabins on a lake and not much else to do, she increases her alcohol intake and takes up spying on her neighbors. She’s got an elderly handy man, a former hunk of a cop, and rich supermodel with a supposedly loving husband across the way. Since it’s such a small lakefront community of a handful of cabins, everyone knows everyone and is thought to look after each other. But do they really?
Through the haze of a drink on the rocks, Casey sees her model neighbor in distress in the water. Because she lost her husband the same way, inebriated or not – she was not going to lose another person in her life. This incident sets off a roller coaster of interactions and events between those around the lake – from the perspective of an unreliable narrator. It’s difficult to determine if what Casey is saying is correct and true – or if the alcohol and grief clouds her mind.
Sager’s books are loaded with surprises. That’s just the kind of author he is – and the fact that he wrote this through the pandemic when his mind was probably churning out messed up ideas – I think it’s one of the best books of his collection. There were multiple times were I gasped, other times where I thought WTF and had to re-read to make sure I understand what I just saw on the page.
You will stand on your deck overlooking the lake in Vermont and think about this book every time you see a ripple. You will look at the windows of your neighbors through the trees and wonder what they’re doing in there. You will see the year rounders and the AIRBNB’ers and wonder who would have your back if they heard your scream – would they come to help? How long would it take the police to get there?
If you’re a big fan of Riley Sager, I think you’ll think it’s moved to the top of your R.S. pile. If you’ve never read one of his, I think you’ll approve and soon check out his others.
This was a wild ride.
Let us know what you think via the comments on @caughtinsouthie or catch me at @glossinbosssinbooks / @josiegl on Instagram.
If you finish this one quick and need some more thrill in your life, check out these great thriller reads below.
- The Family Upstairs and The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell
- The Collective by Alison Gaylin
- Breathless by Amy McCulloch