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The Lake House    by James Patterson order for
Lake House
by James Patterson
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Lake House is a sequel to When the Wind Blows, which immersed widowed veterinarian Frannie O'Neill and FBI agent Kit Harrison in a far-reaching conspiracy involving experiments on mutated human beings. Frannie and Kit formed a romantic attachment, while rescuing a flock of six winged children, led by the delicate and lovely Maximum (Max), from a horrific laboratory confinement at the School. Max, her brother Matthew, Icarus, Ozymandias, Peter and Wendy, injected with avian DNA as embryos, all imprinted on their rescuers.

As this tale opens, Kit and Frannie are fighting a court battle, 'the mother of all custody trials' to keep the children together. Not surprisingly, the biological parents (from whom the kids were stolen as babies) win. Loss of the children hurts and separates Frannie and Kit. But, as usual in a Patterson thriller of whatever genre, there is more going on - a psychopath lurks in the background. Dr. Ethan Kane leads a nefarious Resurrection project, which harvests organs from involuntary young donors, who are shucked in an especially sinister fashion.

As always, Patterson's chapters are short and sweet, the action fast and furious, and the sentiment engaging. The various reactions of the parents, the media, different interest groups, and school peers, to these winged human children, are credible, while often not to their credit. Descriptions of winged flights entice the reader into the air alongside the kids. There is violence and extreme danger, great courage, tragedy and romance, as Kane's hunters track down the children and their protectors.

Aside from a few awkward plot transitions, The Lake House is a fast, smooth page-turner that puts good people (winged and wingless) in the hands of an amoral nutcase with a perverted logic and a Frankenstein laboratory. The author keeps springing surprises right to the last page, and a few of them cry out for a sequel. Let's hope that it comes soon.

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