In the former mining town of Black Lake on the west coast of Canada, there is a story about a shipwreck. All those aboard died, except an unnamed man who staggered ashore. His descendants have a unique ability: once in their lives – and only once – they can unwind the events of the previous six hours.
More than two hundred years later, Ella Manning, marine biologist and part-time police constable, is attending a party at Black Lake Manor, the cliff-top mansion of the town’s divisive local billionaire. With a raging storm coming in from the Pacific, she and several other guests find themselves trapped. And when their host is discovered brutally murdered in a locked room, they turn to her to solve the crime.
Against the odds, Ella is sure she has identified the killer… but then time is unwound. With no memory of what she discovered before, her investigation begins again, with very different results. Someone is willing to use their gift to protect a killer, and everyone is a suspect…
Hi and welcome to my review of Black Lake Manor! And happy publication day to the author!
Oh my giddy aunt, what a book! After Five Minds I expected nothing less than a highly original, twisty mindfuck of a book, and that was exactly what I found in Black Lake Manor.
Black Lake Manor’s main storylines alternate between events in 1804 and 2045, with a few sidelines to learn more about the characters and their history. It is always clear where and when we are, and I had no issues jumping from one timeline to another, it never felt confusing.
In 1804, a ship is wrecked at Black Lake and some of its crew have to resort to rather unsavoury measures to survive. This sets in motion the creation of a new tribe, its members able to turn back time, but only six hours, and only once in their lifetime.
In 2045, local billionaire Lincoln Shan is found dead in his study after an exclusive party. He’s been murdered in a rather gruesome manner and the storm raging around the manor means that no one was able to get in or out, so the killer must be either a guest or a member of personnel. With all external means of communication down due to the storm, the victim’s ex-fiancée, Ella Manning, is the closest thing they have to law enforcement, even if she is just a part-time constable, and she’s determined to get to the bottom of things. But then the wolf eats time and Ella has to start over, without even knowing it.
I do love me a locked room murder mystery! And a sci-fi angle! And a mindblowing reading experience! And Black Lake Manor delivers it all, wrapped with a neat little bow.
As soon as I’d read the first chapter, I knew I was in for a treat. It grabbed me and didn’t let me go. I tried not to overthink things and just let the story flow and take me wherever I needed to go, I knew I’d fry my brain if I tried to figure it out, but I couldn’t stop myself. I loved seeing the story come together, all the different elements, all the chess pieces, and then suddenly see the light, when all is revealed and starts to make sense.
I had a brilliant time with Black Lake Manor. I’m very happy that I had the foresight to save it for a lazy Sunday, since it did lure me in the just-one-more-chapter trap, as expected, and I finished it in a day.
Black Lake Manor is a cleverly plotted, luscious thriller with its own innovative tech, its own mythology and the loveliest octopus you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. If you enjoy locked-room murder mysteries of the stormy, sci-fi and mind-bending variety, I highly recommend you pick up Black Lake Manor.
Black Lake Manor is out now in hardcover and digital formats, with the paperback to follow next year.
Massive thanks to Viper Books and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.