As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Head of Zeus, 5 April 2018. ISBN: 978-1-78669404-1(PB)
A mother with severe mental health issues, a father apparently
determined to drink himself into oblivion and a sense of being an outsider that
dates right back to childhood: small wonder Caitlin is desperate to escape, and
even more desperate to find somewhere she can really belong. But as she observes with pointed poetic irony, anyone who has ever watched a horror
movie would have warned her against spending the night in a huge house in the
middle of nowhere with a man she only met a few days ago.
At first it seems OK, once
she gets over the shock of learning that Jake, the man who brought her there,
hadn't been quite straight with her. The house is headquarters to a small
community, mostly lonely misfits like Caitlin herself. They grow their own
food, follow an uber-healthy regime of work, exercise and occasional fasting,
and take part in therapy sessions, both the group kind and one on one with Don,
the community's founder.
But then Caitlin starts to
Emma Dibdin has writing in
her DNA; her father was Michael Dibdin, the acclaimed crime writer and creator
of quirky ace detective Aurelio Zen. But in The Room by the Lake Emma
has taken on something quite different from her father's more robust work; it's
disturbing, but subtly so, playing on fears and insecurities that lie deep in
the most self-assured and stable among us. It's also beautifully written; and
Caitlin herself, the first-person narrator and as unreliable as narrators come,
is portrayed as vividly as the other members of the community: self-possessed
Don, Tiggerish Tyra, enigmatic Ruth, optimistic Dale to name just a handful.
Dibdin demonstrates a keen
sense of place as well: the noise and rush of New York, the bleakness of
small-town America, the suspended-time feeling of long-haul air travel. The
bulk of the novel takes place in the house and grounds inhabited by the
community; that location almost becomes another character, with its glassy
lake, ever-changing woodland and spartan accommodation. When the inevitable
vague sense of menace resolves into something all too real, it's almost as if
it emerges out of the dense undergrowth.
It's always good to encounter
a talented debut author, and better still when that talent results in a first
book of this calibre: original plotting, intriguing scenario, brooding
atmosphere and above all complex characters. I look forward to seeing where
Emma Dibdin goes next.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Emma Dibden grew up in Oxford, and now lives in New York. She is a
writer, Jpurnalist whose work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan,
Esquire, Elle, and MarieClaire. The Room by the Lake is her first novel.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.