cover image The Lake

The Lake

Perrine Leblanc, trans. from the French by Lazer Lederhendler. House of Anansi (PGW/Perseus, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $15.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-4870-0020-2

This slim novel, which deftly blends murder, mystery, romance, and a coming-of-age story, is a testament to the talent of the author. Alexis and Mina are both misfits living in the Acadian village of Malabourg, Quebec, where three young women are murdered in one year, their bodies fished out of the village’s icy lake. For Alexis, the murders have meant the death of a love that might have been: he was in love with Geneviéve, the first woman murdered. For Mina, a young woman who knows too much but can’t speak out, the murders become a terrible secret, difficult to bear. Both must leave Malabourg before reckoning with all that happened. Leblanc’s debut novel, L’homme blanc, won the 2011 Canadian Governor General’s Award for French-language fiction. Her second is equally ambitious, with shifting points of view and spare, poetic prose. This style is occasionally problematic for the plot, leaving some unanswered questions that can be distracting for the reader, but ultimately, it is from the work’s sparseness that the novel draws its beauty. (Apr.)