“Blackwater Lake” by Maggie James – Book Review

I’m a bit behind in my Goodreads challenge this year so I thought I’d cheat a little and read a novella that has been on my Kindle for a while. The title and cover seemed in keeping with this time of year.

Set near Bristol, England, this novella length mystery features thirty-five year old Matthew Stanyer. Matthew has come home to Bristol because his mother is ill.  Not physically, but at just fifty-five years of age she is suffering from early onset dementia. His father, Joe Stanyer, is still working full-time as the groundsman for the Blackwater Estate, and therefore unable to care for her by himself. Joe is rapidly reaching the end of his emotional tether.

When Matt visits his family home, he finds both his parents missing. That is unusual in itself as his mother rarely, if ever, leaves the house. Then he finds a note from his father…  He has no option but to call the police – knowing that if he does so, his horrible family secret will be exposed to the world. The secret, the reason Matt left home all those years ago, was that his mother was an extreme hoarder.  Back when Matt was a teenager he couldn’t invite any friends to his house for fear they would see the chaos that was his home. Now, many years later, it had gotten exponentially worse…

When the police discover the bodies of both of his parents near Blackwater Lake, Matthew’s story becomes more complicated.

Grieving, Matthew is forced to tackle clearing out his parents home. He needs several dumpsters to contain the years of trash, clothing, out of date canned food, and other assorted papers and bric-a-brac. During the clean-out he comes to find clues that will shed light on the reason his mother began hoarding. Also,  a scandalous, decades old family secret is gradually revealed. Secrets that just might be found beneath Blackwater Lake. A secret for which his mother paid a terrible price…

I had never read anything by Maggie James before, so had no expectations one way or the other about this read.  I was pleasantly surprised that even though it was novella length, it read like a good mystery novel. Although we didn’t get to learn a lot about Matthew’s character, what we did know was enough for me to care about the outcome of his investigation into his parent’s past.  The plot was interesting and the story well-paced. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. I will definitely look out for other Maggie James titles. Recommended! 

I got it for FREE in Kindle format!  What more motivation do you need?Maggie James is a British author who lives in Bristol. She writes psychological suspense novels.

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practicing yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love! You can follow Maggie James on Twitter @MJamesFiction

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, Novellas and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to “Blackwater Lake” by Maggie James – Book Review

  1. I have a couple of Maggie James’ books on my kindle but this does sound good – my mother had hoarding tendencies although it wasn’t quite so extreme so I’m interested to see what Matthew found in the past that led to this behaviour – it’s downloaded to my kindle 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Margaret says:

    Thanks for this review – the book sounds good and I’ve downloaded a copy. I don’t think I’ve come across a book about an extreme hoarder before – although there are plenty of TV programmes about it and how to de-clutter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s not cheating, it’s not like you decide how many pages it has 😉 …I’ve read two of James’ books and enjoyed them both – a reliable author in my eyes 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. alliesumner says:

    This sounds good!!


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