Terror at Mirror Lake by Hank Kellner
Genre: Psychological/Terror Thriller
Rating: **** Four Stars
Estimated word count: 65,000 words
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“Hank Kellner is a veteran of the Korean War and a retired associate professor of English currently based in Winston Salem, North Carolina. He is the author of 125 Photos for English Composition Classes (J. Weston Walch, 1978); How to Be a Better Photographer (J. Weston Walch, 1978); Write What You See (Prufrock Press, 2010); and, with co-author Elizabeth Guy, Reflect and Write: 300 Poems and Photographs to Inspire Writing (Prufrock Press, 2013).”
“Terror lurks in the shadows of Mirror Lake, where secrets of sex, lies, and death are all patiently waiting to surface from its murky depths. The small town of Hamptonville seems the last place you would find illicit sex, drugs, blackmail, and murder. But that’s exactly what Bruce Orum, his girlfriend Cindy Garvey, and two married couples encounter when they meet Luke Downing, a psychopath who takes pleasure by inflicting pain on his victims. At Mirror Lake Downing takes the two married couples prisoner and plans to torture and humiliate them before killing them. But he does not know that Sheriff Jeff Parker and his partner Molly Hutchison are on his trail and determined to stop him. From page one all the way to the breathtaking ending, you will find yourself on pins and needles waiting to see what happens next.
Terror at Mirror Lake is more than just another psychological thriller. In its pages the author describes the causes of Luke Downing’s evil nature, his relationships with others, and the relationships between the two married couples he plans to torment and kill.”
My Two Cents:
Psychological thrillers aren’t usually my thing, but I have to say this was well done. The author has a few fun and thought-provoking twists on the terror genre that, if not completely unique, are still rarely seen. The antagonist isn’t really the crazy killer, he’s more of a plot device to ramp up the tension. The real scourge in this tale are the main characters. Their deep-rooted shame, guilt and paranoia keep making things worse at every turn.
My only complaint is that the two most interesting characters aren’t even introduced until about 60% through the story. You’ve spent most of the tale wallowing in the (whiny) heads of the four main characters, only to meet the most complex and exciting actors just as the action is approaching a climax!
Still, this is a good read. While it starts dark and tragic, there truly is a happy ending. Despite the jacket’s description, there is no gratuitous sex or violence. What little you’ll find is handled surprisingly tastefully and actually relevant to the plot.