Under the Lake Summary
by Stuart Lee

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Under the Lake

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter John Howell is having a mid-life crisis. His marriage is on the rocks. His drinking is on the increase and his writing in an artistic hiatus. Hating himself for doing so, Howell accepts a lucrative offer to ghostwrite a book. He takes up residence in his brother-in-law’s lakeside cabin in the remote mountains of northern Georgia, ostensibly to expedite the onerous book contract, but actually to restore equilibrium to his life.

Sutherland, Georgia, is a charmingly reconstructed town on a man-made lake. Under the town’s picture-postcard surface lie crosscurrents of mystery deriving as much from the isolated community’s bizarre cultural heritage as from the whispered stories of a valley family who had disappeared one night thirty-five years previously when an earthen dike gave way, flooding their farm. The arrival of any stranger in this remote area is sufficient to evoke the paranoia of the town’s founding father, Eric Sutherland, as well as that of Sheriff Bo Scully, a man with more to occupy his time than law and order. Ironically, Howell is not the only stranger in town. Working undercover in Bo Scully’s office is a young woman reporter, Scotty Miller, whom Howell recognizes instantly. The two embark on their parallel pursuits: hers, Bo Scully’s rumored illicit activities; his, the real story of what lies “under the lake.”

Often books which mix reality with the supernatural seem implausible and leave the reader unsatisfied. This is certainly not the case with UNDER THE LAKE. Stuart Woods casts his net into the dark waters of psychic phenomena, drug smuggling, incest, and secret human relationships and draws forth a superb catch of intrigue, suspense, and unspeakable evil.