Moon Lake

by Joe Lansdale

Mulholland Books/Little, Brown and Co.
2021, 339 pages, $28

ISBN 978-0-316-54064-3

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Journalist/novelist Daniel Russell learns a lot about the town, Old Long Lincoln, Texas, from a Mr. Candles. Even though Danny grew up in the old town, there are mysteries about how and why destructive water from a dam was unleashed on unsuspecting, unwarned black families living in its path, some of who stood their ground while the evil town council declared the site dead, thereby making room for a gentrified New Long Lincoln. Trouble is, for residents with any kind of memory, there are troubling, unanswered questions about the lake that materialized as a result of the flooding, including a body of man-made water: dubbed “Moon Lake.”

Those questions include: Why did Danny’s father sit his son in the family’s car and suicide-smash the car through a bridge, almost resulting in Danny’s death? Was Danny’s father that distraught over Danny’s mother suddenly and mysteriously leaving the marriage?

Another question: Why, with the help of Danny’s girlfriend (the same one who saved Danny from drowning, named Ronnie) did they discover (after the lake dried up) body parts in car trunks? When Danny’s father’s Cadillac was uncovered in the water, there was a body in it — but it was not Danny’s mother. How do characters such as Mrs. Chandler, Chief Dudley, the Flashlight Boy, lawyer Jack Manley Jr. and others play in an obvious death-and-destruction conspiracy? What was the purpose of the Long Lincoln Country Club? And who is the town’s “biographer,” who writes the book, who goes by the name of Natural Wilson?

Lansdale is good at giving us these mysteries to solve in a thriller called MOON LAKE.