Monday, April 2, 2012

Completed: Starvation Lake

Dear Jenny,

I originally bought this book for Bill because it seems to focus on hockey and, as you know, he likes hockey (Yes, yes. Understatement there.) Even though I don't read a lot of mysteries, I thought that I might also be interested in it, so when I made the TBR pile, I slapped this one on there.

It was a fine read. Nothing too earth shattering, but pretty enjoyable. I liked the writing and I especially liked the near-constant hockey references. There were several times that a normal phrase was turned on its head to be more hockey-ish. For instance, rather than saying a guy was "dumber than a bag of hammers," the author writes that he's "dumber than a bag of hockey pucks" [175]. Ha! I might have to start saying that, actually.

And there was one particular passage about what we call "glove hand" in our house that really rang true:
Little Wilf turned the palm to his face and inhaled deeply. "Ahhhhh," he said. "Hockey." Nothing smells worse than the inside of a an old sweat-drenched hockey glove, except a hand that just came out of one. And nothing smells more like hockey. [99]
Not having played hockey my entire life, I don't fully appreciate the smell of "glove hand" and the memories it brings back. But I've seen my husband's face when he catches a whiff of glove hand and I know that clearly, for a person who's whole life has been hockey, nothing smells more like hockey. (Also, nothing smells worse. It's really atrocious.)

As for the plot, I'm not usually one to see what's coming, I must admit. For the most part, I don't even try. I'm a reader who just waits to see what happens. Back when you were talking about Swamplandia!, you were saying that you saw the rape coming, and you were cringing, hoping that it would not be true. As I was reading this book, I thought I saw something coming, hoped I would not be correct, and... I was.

There was a bit of a twist, but the most obvious explanation for the "missing year" up where the town's beloved coach used to live? Give it about three seconds. Hrm. Coach of young boys... unexplained year-long gap in his career history.... hrmmm. Of course it's pedophilia. I wonder what else it could have been, because my immediate thought was that and that, of course, was what it was. I was hoping for something less predictable (He joined the circus! He was a juror! He stopped coaching for one year to participate in Dancing with the Stars! Anything, really.) But nope.

I just read through some of the reviews on Amazon. Most of the one stars were because people didn't like all of the hockey talk which, of course, was what I really liked (meanwhile, there's a damned goalie on the front cover, people -- what were you expecting?!) but the word "predictable" also comes up a lot. I hate to say this, but it must be predictable if I was able to see it coming.

Despite the predictability, I liked the characters, the town, and all of the hockey references. I found myself looking forward to picking it up again, so it was certainly enjoyable. It might have been a bit long (there were some sub-plots that didn't seem necessary to me) but it didn't drag. And there's a bit of a surprise at the very end, after all.

April's selection is going to have to be an eBook to keep up with me, as I am not going to have much time to read for the next few weeks. What are you reading?



  1. K,

    I'm glad I borrowed this from you. I really should pick up some more hockey knowledge now that I live in Chicago. It's a big sports town in general, but especially the hockey.

    I like a mystery, too. Very escapist and fun.

    I'm not sure what I'll read this month. I'm supposed to read Jane Eyre for my bookclub, and I need to finish Unbroken in the next 48 hours for a book talk I'm hosting for parents (they picked the book they wanted to do), and I'm also supposed to read Pale Fire for the goodreads group. So, I don't know where that leaves me. Maybe the Jane Smiley novel? Bah. April is long. I'll have time to work it all out I'm sure. I'll probably decide after I get through this Unbroken thing.


  2. K,

    Oh, one more really awesome thing. This month in the school library, they are featuring a display of book me! Last month, they had one of the upper school English teachers make his choices, and now it's my turn. It's called WWJNR? For What Would Jen ____ Read?

    How. Awesome. Is. That?!

  3. I never responded to this! VERY awesome about the school library! Take a photo and post your list here -- I want to see! I want to see!