Book Review #2: The Dark Lake (I think there was a lake)

The second book I read this year is “The Dark Lake” by Sarah Bailey. In her acknowledgements, Ms. Bailey wrote:

Writing a book really is such a ridiculous thing to do. So ridiculous that I might just go and do it all over again.

Uh, Sarah? That’s not necessary.

My daughter, Brigid, gave me this book for Christmas. It’s not a good book. It’s not a bad book. It’s okay, not a page turner but not so bad I couldn’t finish it.

Brigid, you know I love you like you are one of my own, but this book is an example of the “Girl” book phenomenon we have discussed many times.

Maggie, what phenomenon do you speak of? Well, I will tell you what phenomenon!

There is a bigger issue at stake here than simply a formulaic crime thriller featuring a tough beautiful detective who has a dark past and a handsome love interest who is all wrong for her investigating the murder of a woman she grew up with found in a lake and why did that happen?!

What I am bringing to the world’s attention is the glut of books with “Girl” or “Woman” in the title and featuring watery cover art. Combine these two elements and BAM! Bestseller! Done! Go sell the movie rights.

Let’s take a look shall we?

Here is the cover of the book I just read. Here’s a little tip for potential buyers of watery-covered girl books: when the opening line of the inside dust jacket immediately references other authors such as my personal favorite, Tana French or Paula Hawkins, the publisher is trying to trick the buyer. “Wait is this book by Tana French? I love her! I know her name isn’t on the cover but maybe she did write it. I will pay $26 for it, I am sure it is brilliant!”

dark lake
Not a book by Tana French or Paula Hawkins

Now let’s look at some best sellers from the past few years.

gone girl
The one that started it all.
The next crazy successful best seller. “Girl” in the title. Check. Now add the blurry cover art.


woman in the window
Woman in the title. Back to black cover with Gillian Flynn’s name up top. Does the reader/buyer know this book isn’t by Gillian Flynn? Stop! Go back! This isn’t Gone Girl!!


These Girls are a New York Times Bestseller. Prominent use of “Girls” and Water so of course it’s a hit.


This one has Girls and blurry cover art. Louisa Luna has a winner on her hands!












My brother John first brought this marketing ploy to my attention a few years ago. He was looking for “Girl on a Train” and wound up with a middle reader mystery which turned out to be a good book for a 12-year-old.

What do you think? AmIright? Go to a bookstore, go to Amazon or Costco and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Let me do you all you mystery lovers a favor. Go read this:


This book is haunting and I was uneasy while reading it. I think that’s a sign of a good thriller.


I’m pretty sure this very important piece of investigative reporting will be picked up by a variety of national media outlets so remember you read it here first.

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