Lake of the Dead: A Winston Radhauser Mystery #5. Susan Clayton-Goldner. Tirgearr Publishing. January 2019. 291 pp.; ASIN #: B07L5Z6BMB.
When the story begins, the reader thinks it’s going to be a crime associated with transgender truth and persecution. Rashima (formerly called Roy) is having tremendous problems as she’s believed she’s always been a girl despite what her anatomy indicates. Her parents and school peers’ scorn and even persecute her. However, she’s got a steeliness that has grown since she became friends with Parker Collins and with whom she’s fallen in love. Parker has been writing stories since he was a child. When the story opens, Rashima is frantic because she hasn’t heard from him. He’s gone up to a cabin his Writing Professor lent him to use far away from telephones, TVs, computers, etc. because she believes he is the most gifted student she has ever had and is sure someday he will win a major award for his novel.
Finally, after his missing status has been reported, Officer Winston Radhauser gets involved. He is also an unusual person who accepts people for who they are and focuses more of his empathy than judgment on people like Rashima and Parker. However, his involvement is on a purely investigative mode and he’s able to maintain an objectivity despite his feelings one way or another. He’s about to be extremely surprised about this investigation’s results.
At first, he’s surprised by the professor, Maggie Hollingsworth’s strong feelings about Parker. When Radhauser gets a brief glimpse of Parker’s writing in his notebooks he’s kept since he was a child, Radhauser quickly knows this is a sensitive soul who has suffered on his own, something Maggie couldn’t help but miss. This then is the search for Parker and after finding Parker’s body the search for his killer.
Everyone in this story has an “agenda,” stuff to deal with that can be life-changing in the best or worst ways, including Parker and Rashima’s families. However, sometimes the reader tries to play private eye and couldn’t be farther from the truth with this scenario.
The plot of this novel is really about character and this is where Susan Clayton-Goldner clearly excels. The reader continues to want to know more and more about each character, not to supply a “who did it” answer, but just for the descriptions of the simplicity and complexity of each character. This is the magic that fuses all of parts, right up to the last riveting page. Very nicely done, Ms. Clayton-Goldner – recommended great read of this mystery, the fifth in her series!