Reading Ed Lynskey’s new novel, LAKE CHARLES, my memory flashed back to the times in which this book is set, 1979. I was thirty that year, still a young man, so i can identify with the hero of this one. One Brendan Fishback. Just nineteen, as the story opens, he’s facing a first degree murder charge. At a rock concert, he’d hooked up with Ashleigh Sizemore, the daughter of a lawyer in the town of Yellow Snake, home of the snooty rich as opposed to Brendan’s town, Umpire. They’d taken a room at a motel, smoked a little pot, had sex, and passed out. Brendan awakens to find Ashleigh dead, rushing out to call the cops. PCP, Angel dust, is found in the room and Ashleigh died from an overdose. Brendan doesn’t remember a lot about what went on, but there was no Angel dust the last he remembers.
He, along with his twin sister, Edna, and his best friend and Edna’s husband, Cobb Kuzawa, are on a fishing expedition to Lake Charles. You see, it’s also a reconciliation of sorts. Edna and Cobb are separated, which makes for some awkward moments. Brendan and Cobb have their fishing boats on a double trailer and Edna has brought her jet ski. The fishing is lousy, Edna and Cobb get into an argument, and Edna takes off on her jet ski. They only get worried when several hours go by without seeing her. No sounds of the jet ski can be heard and they begin a search.
Nothing turns up, including a foot search of as much around the lake as the pair can reach that nets them only patches of marijuana. Cobb has some ideas of what happened then. They decide to stay overnight, then resume the hunt in the morning. Late that night. their worst fears are confirmed late when they are attacked and in the ensuing battle, Brendan kills one of them. No name, but the face is familiar.
The hunt is on. Somehow, Edna’s disappearance and Brendan’s murder charge are tied together.
Jerry Kuzawa, Cobb’s dad, joins the search. A man with a shady past, served during the Korean War and rumored to be a government op in his younger days, he comes armed to the teeth. They set out to find Edna and find Ashleigh’s real killer. Eventually, they hook up with an undercover DEA agent, a beautiful young man, who sheds some light on their suspicions.
Before LAKE CHARLES, I’d not read any of Ed Lynskey’s books. Some of his work has been dubbed Appalachian noir and I’m familiar with a lot of the area in Tennessee where the book is set. Lake Charles is, of course fictional, but a lot of the places mentioned I’ve been to or through. My best friend lives with his family in Tennessee now and my grandfather came of the that Appalachians a few miles north in Virginia. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in those mountains, so I felt at home reading this book.
It’s due for release in late June and can be pre-ordered HERE.
Worth a look.