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Dan Sharp Mystery #1

Lake on the Mountain

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2013 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Mystery — Winner

When missing persons investigator Dan Sharp attends a wedding, he finds himself investigating more than one murder.



Dan Sharp, a gay father and missing persons investigator, accepts an invitation to a wedding on a yacht in Ontario’s Prince Edward County. It seems just the thing to bring Dan closer to his noncommittal partner, Bill, a respected medical professional with a penchant for sleazy after-hours clubs, cheap drugs, and rough sex. But the event doesn’t go exactly as planned.

When a member of the wedding party is swept overboard, a case of mistaken identity leads to confusion as the wrong person is reported missing. The hunt for a possible killer leads Dan deeper into the troubled waters and private lives of a family of rich WASPs and their secret world of privilege.

No sooner is that case resolved when a second one ends up on Dan’s desk. Dan is hired by an anonymous source to investigate the disappearance, twenty years earlier, of the groom’s father. The only clues are a missing bicycle and six horses mysteriously poisoned.

488 pages, Paperback

Published February 21, 2012

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About the author

Jeffrey Round

28 books83 followers
Jeffrey Round is best known as the Lambda Award-winning author of two mystery series, the gritty DAN SHARP books, and the comic BRADFORD FAIRFAX books. He is also an award-winning filmmaker, television producer and song-writer.

SHADOW PUPPET, sixth in the Dan Sharp series, was published in 2019. Margaret Cannon of the Globe and Mail said, "...this is as good a whodunit as we will see this year." (26/4/19)

BON TON ROULET, fourth in the Bradford Fairfax mystery series, was published in 2017. In 2018, Jeffrey was invited by the William Faulkner Society to read from this book, along with mayor Mitch Landrieu and others, at the 300th anniversary of the founding of New Orleans.

His first novel, A CAGE OF BONES, was published by GMP (UK), topping bestseller lists around the world. The P-TOWN MURDERS, first in the Bradford Fairfax series, was published by the Haworth Press (US). Both titles were listed on AfterElton’s 50 Greatest Gay Books in 2008.

Jeffrey's ENDGAME was called a "brilliant recreation" of Agatha Christie's best-selling mystery AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, giving the original what one critic called a "punk-rock reboot." It was a best-selling e-book in the US in 2016.

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5 stars
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126 (40%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 62 reviews
Profile Image for Shile (Hazard's Version) semi-hiatus.
1,067 reviews746 followers
September 19, 2020
Audiobook – 5 stars

Story - 3.85 stars


“I don’t think that’s — am I really that complex?”
“No, you’re that simple.”


This was some good messy shit.

description

Our main MC is Dan Sharp. Dan is a P.I, he specializes in Missing Persons cases. I loved Dan from the moment I started this book. Dan is one complex character. He is an amazing single Dad, he acts without thinking sometimes, he is funny, and sometimes he needs to be spanked for his stupid decisions. I freaking love him. He got issues on top of issues.

description

The writing is good, thought it was dangling around being soapy at times, good thing the author didn't cross that line. The story flowed so well, i liked some prose, other times not. We get to know the characters through Dan’s eyes. He is somehow an unreliable narrator but what I have come to learn is, they make the best stories. The characters felt so real and i loved the diversity.

The secondary characters were amazing. Donny! Dan’s friend. He was funny, knows how to dish it and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. We all need a Donny.

Ked! Dan’s son, I loved that he was just your typical teenager. His relationship with Dan was the best, what a wonderful, open, Dad/Son relationship.

The case was interesting, got me hooked and engaged until the end. Dan really needs to have his priorities straight. I did understand some of his actions, sometimes, we act out of anger then regret later. some of his actions were so realistic and hurtful.

As for the relationship, let’s just say, Dan needs lots of therapy before getting into any relationship. And i don't think even that will help.

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Overall, I had a good time.
Profile Image for LenaRibka.
1,410 reviews414 followers
November 2, 2018


4.5 stars

Do you know what I am thinking? That Steve Cumyn IS in love with Jeffrey Round. Otherwise I can't explain why Steve Cumyn, a fantastic natural borned narrator (and a handsome man), who made this brilliantly written novel even better (that is what a great narrator normally can do), hasn't narrated more books. He is for sure VERY expensive (I can totally understand why) and not every author could afford his services - actually it seems like NOBODY can, except...😊- (it is why he didn't do a lot of audio books), but he is in love with Jeffrey Round(not just a great author, but a very handsome man) and it is why the only two books he narrated are of Jeffrey Round's.



Such a great gay mystery. How I am glad I started it AT LAST from the beginning. FYI: I read the book#4 without realizing it was a series, and when shortly after I got a possibility to read the book #5 I gripped it. You can read every bok as a stand-alone, but you will better understand and enjoy it if you start it from the very beginning.


Profile Image for Vivian.
2,839 reviews387 followers
May 6, 2014
3.5 Stars

Hardcore mystery fans, this is not for you.

This story is really about Dan Sharp much in the way a Stephanie Plum story has a mystery to support an exploration of her life and its tribulations. Yes, there is a missing person's case that Dan is investigating that intersects with his real life. The mystery itself isn't terribly engaging, but it does set that stage for meeting a host of interesting characters. I'd say entertaining since the scenes are set almost like a stage play.

The characters drive the show. Dan, his son and his best friend all provide a strong structure on which the story is laid down. I loved the portrayal of a dedicated single father, especially since it didn't rely on a bitch/wastrel/uninterested female to play the part of the mother. *Crash* Yes, that was a hackneyed stereotype being felled. Just as importantly, dads make great parents.

There is an air of despondency, which I'm unsure whether to attribute to SAD or just a reflection of the unsettled nature of living in an area that is undergoing rapid change and being uncertain where one stands in the new paradigm. That, or Canadians are just depressed. So while it maybe entertaining, it is a subdued form.

Good enough that I want to read another one, just not right away.

Favorite quote:
Loneliness was never pretty, even when it dressed up for a Saturday night, and it was seldom inviting to anyone on the outside.


Profile Image for Ije the Devourer of Books.
1,684 reviews52 followers
October 15, 2015
Well this was simply brilliant and edgy!!

There is just so much in this story:
a complicated and intriguing mystery,
a difficult relationship,
a lovely son,
an interesting job,
an irritating therapist,
a best and truthful buddy,
a difficult childhood and painful past,
a hope of new love,
a dog that keeps pooing in the house!!

Dan Sharp, a private investigator and single parent is invited by his boyfriend to attend a wedding. Dan decides to attend even though his relationship with Bill is not a smooth one. The two of them are very different. Bill is a talented heart surgeon, loud, fond of drink and the good life, while Dan is somewhat reserved and reflective and having survived a difficult childhood has issues with anger management. But he loves his son and has good friends.

Dan decides a weekend away to attend the wedding will be a good thing for him and Bill but once they arrive Dan is thrust headfirst into a murder mystery. The sister of one of the grooms is murdered but it turns out that all is not what it seems with the two grooms and there is less of love and more of scheming and deception. Dan is a private investigator and successful in finding missing people and so he decides to find the murderer and as he investigates he uncovers a web of mystery which goes far back into the past.

This is a brilliant mystery. It is both gritty and engaging with characters that are edgy and flawed, giving the story a real edge. It is hard to know who to cheer for because each character has flaws and failures, but each character is also very human and vulnerable. We are taken to the heart of a family of hidden secrets, superficial relationships and more wealth than Dan can ever dream of having, but the glamour hides poison, intrigue and violence.

And Dan despite threats is determined to uncover what has been hidden for many years.

This is my first book by this author and it certainly won't be my last because Dan Sharp is such an interesting character with a detective brilliance and a cynical outlook on life and everything apart from his son. The mystery developed quite slowly and the first part of the book focuses on introducing us to Dan and his background, his son, friends and his work. This helps build the momentum of the story making us wonder who will be the victim as we read. Then with our attention fully engrossed we follow Dan as he investigates who committed murder and the story is really satisfying.

It is satisfying because the mystery has different layers and the obvious crime may not be the crime that is actually investigated.

I really enjoyed this and this author has become a must read for me because it was brilliant and kept me engrossed and guessing. A really good mystery with great characters in a kind of setting that lends itself to disappearances and silent violence.

A great beginning for what promises to be an excellent series!
Profile Image for Andrea AKA Catsos Person.
792 reviews102 followers
June 22, 2016
A good start to a promising mystery series! 4.5 stars!

Drat GR and AMZN! They will not let readers give ratings that include half-stars. I rounded down because the "who-done-it" aspect was not as compelling as I would have liked.

However, I loved the author's writing, characterization, supporting characters, and subplots.

Also the book was well-researched. I'm a bit of a stickler for accurate details.

The MC was an interesting and fun (for me) character. He was a single gay dad. He is possibly depressed, did have a horrible and sad childhood, has been sent to mandatory psychotherapy by his employer, may be starting to have a problem with alcohol and for this book anyway, has a boyfriend who treats him like crap.

I love Dan Sharp and his issues! And I like an investigator who is good at his job, but has problems in other areas of his life, and this MC does have them.

I think that this book is a harbinger of better things to come in future installments!
Profile Image for Alona.
668 reviews12 followers
July 5, 2018
I truly enjoyed it!

It’s hard to really know how to describe this book...
it’s not really a mystery, though there is a good mystery plot here.
It wasn’t a romance either, though there is a relationship story here. And a romantic storyline that is just starting and very promising 🤞🏼

I would say it a great characters driven story, and what characters...
I loved our main character Dan, with all his complicities.
I loved Ked, his teenager son.
And I most definitely LOVED Donny, Dan’s best friend ❤️

I listened to the audiobook and enjoyed the narrator a lot. Wonderful job!

The first 60-70% where SO good, The next 20% where a bit slow, but it was a wonderful read with great writing.

I’m moving now straight to book #2.
Profile Image for M.
823 reviews98 followers
August 28, 2014
I enjoyed the writing in this book far more than the content. I know this, because even as the plot was getting pretty random, I still had to stop now and then to admire a phrase. It tells the story of Dan, a gay private investigator with a difficult past, a teenaged son and chip on his shoulder. I liked Dan, he was suitably complex. I did, however, have an issue with the 'mystery'. The premise of a mysterious death on a yacht during a gay wedding is kind of awesome. It has that claustrophobic, closed-room mystery potential that is so fun to read about. This ends up not actually being the main point of the story, the whole yacht incident is glossed over and resolved in a very unsatisfying way. It leads the way to another, tangentially related mystery, but by I this point I felt like I'd been duped a little bit. There's also some completely unrelated stuff that happens that serve no purpose to further the plot or tell us anything new about the protagonist. That said, I'll probably read the sequel when it comes out.
Profile Image for Ulysses Dietz.
Author 13 books614 followers
August 20, 2020
The Lake on the Mountain (Dan Sharp 1)
By Jeffrey Round
Published by Dundurn (Toronto), 2012
Five stars

How odd to read a book set in Toronto in which the “hero” (more on that) hates Toronto—one of my favorite cities. Then again, as a USA American, all Canadian cities seem nicer to me.

This is a fairly long, almost stately, but definitely quiet and thoughtful mystery. Very well written, but also deeply written, particularly in terms of Dan Sharp, the smart, kind, rather profoundly messed-up missing persons investigator at the center of the story.

Dan is a good guy—a really good guy. We’re supposed to know that from the start. We also learn, however, that he is seriously self-defeating and sliding rapidly into alcoholism (a fact of which he is, as alcoholics are wont to be, oblivious). Dan has an arrogant, rich, highly talented boyfriend (Bill) who ignores him and ill-treats him (not abuse, but emotional withholding). He also has a dark family past that haunts him—not surprising in this genre. However, Dan also has a teenage son, Kedrick, whom he has raised more-or-less on his own; and this kid is one of the best teenagers I’ve ever encountered (and that includes my own children). Kedrick is living proof that Dan Sharp is a good guy. That’s important.

On a weekend with his boyfriend for a fancy gay wedding in the country, Dan is drawn into the glittering (yet somehow “off”) world of the Killingworths—serious old-money Toronto. Thom, one of the grooms, is boyfriend Bill’s old school chum, and at first Dan is simply happy to enjoy the luxury of the setting. Then things start to go sideways, and Dan’s sharp (ha!) investigative mind kicks in in spite of himself. His self-destructive, angry inner self also kicks in.

The plot unrolls sedately��even with moments of high action—and it isn’t until after the midpoint of the book that the real mystery to be solved rises to the surface—bringing with it all of Dan’s insecurities, buried pain, and emotional damage. The tentacles of the Killingworth family begin to ensnare him, pushing him into the comforting embrace of booze even as one family member offers a glimmer of something better, unhoped-for.

The two people in this book who love Dan unconditionally are his son and his best friend Donny—a sassy black perfume salesman, who manages to simultaneously embrace and avoid being a stereotype due to Round's careful construction of his character. Donny is strong, wise, and unflinching when it comes to telling Dan the truth. So is his son, and the most powerful scenes in the book focus on interactions between a dysfunctional Dan and these two men.

There is also a neatly crafted secondary plot arc dealing with a teenage runaway named Richard Philips. Dan sees himself in this missing boy, who is the same age as his son. This slender little thread in the plot becomes electric as the book pushes towards its never-quite-certain conclusion. It is unrelated to the larger mystery plot, and yet it also echoes the overarching question that is always in Dan Sharp’s mind: why?

I look forward to catching up with this series by a writer who, for me, is new. There is everything I insist on in a good book with a central gay character, with the added pleasure of an evocative writer who can create a sense of place with intensity that stays with you.
February 11, 2013
Vicious females and learning to come to terms with personal realities and solving mysteries at the same time. What more could you ask for?

Lake on the Mountain introduces us to a very complex character, Dan Sharp. As a missing persons investigator numerous interesting cases cross his desk. Many are routine and do not end well for the families that have requested them. As well as being an investigator Dan is a single father raising a son, Ked, who was conceived in his college years. Dan shares custody with the boy’s mother and they struggle with his teenage angst. Dan is good at his job in large part due to his own history as a runaway who was rescued from the streets of Toronto by his first lover.

Dan has never been as successful in love since the death of his first lover, as he deals with so many issues from his past. His current lover is less than faithful or present for Dan in many ways but still invites him to go with him to the wedding of Bill’s best friend, Thom, in Prince Edward County near The Lake on The Mountain. I love the description of the lake from the book, having been to the lake myself. I know I found in an oddly eerie experience. As beautiful as Prince Edward County is I don’t think I would really want to live near The Lake on The Mountain, let alone have to take the Glenora ferry very often.

The primary mysteries that confront Dan in the book revolve around Thom and his family. While attending Thom and Sebastiano’s wedding on a boat in the Bay of Quinte Sebastiano’s ‘sister’ goes overboard. The how and why become the first puzzle for Dan to solve. He learns as part of this that Thom’s father disappeared without a trace some 20 years earlier. An unidentified client asks Dan to investigate this one too.

The references to places in and around Toronto, Prince Edward County, and Vancouver give real context to the story and helped to me to understand Dan’s view of Toronto. Toronto is seen by so many disenfranchised youth as the ‘Emerald City’ but it can be a hard reality if you are not prepared for it.

This is definitely not a book that you would read in one sitting. I loved the complexity of the main characters and the father/son interactions as Ked deals with his father’s insecurities and bad habits as much as Dan has to deal with the angst that goes along with being a teenager in our modern world. Dan eventually comes to confront some of his demons and in doing so comes out stronger for his son.
Profile Image for Matt Rohweder.
46 reviews14 followers
December 17, 2015
**Spoilers**

I have rather conflicting feelings about this book - on the one hand, I quite enjoyed the mystery it sets up and plays with throughout; however, on the other hand, I could not stand the grandiose and over the top philosophizing tone it took over and over again. Even more, I found so much in the book that I disliked that I found myself reading purely because I wanted something to redeem the book for more - and I hoped throughout that the resolution of the mystery would do that.

Overall, I found the book to be a messy, confused narrative that wanted to spend much more time on the tortured inner life of its protagonist than it did on the mystery that was supposed to be its backbone. The book, which came highly recommended, proved to be a utter disappointment.

What exactly was this book supposed to be? Was it a gritty crime thriller or a human interest piece about the protagonist's alcoholism - which he refuses to admit to at any point in the novel? Perhaps, if the book just played with these two angles, I would have been fine. But, oh no, the novel couldn't just have these two tensions, it had to take on a strange and unrealistic relationship for Dan Sharp early on, and then the even stranger relationship he develops with a man living on Maine Island in British Columbia.

Nothing about these relationships read true to me. I was annoyed and frustrated every time Dan started whining or philosophizing about the men in his life.

And then there was the relationship Dan had with his son, Ked. Another aspect of the book I found highly unbelievable. Round so wanted to draw parallels between the various father/son relationships throughout this book that Dan and Keds' relationship felt forced and weird. One moment Ked was a teenager dealing with very teenager problems, the next moment he seems more like a 30 year old man with Dan playing the part of the naughty teen. Plus there was the underdeveloped plot line between Ked and his best friend, who suddenly winds up the victim of a drive by shooting. This event gets barely 2 pages of text before it is completely forgotten and the next time we see Ked he is listening to his iPod and appears over the this trauma. What exactly was the point of this event? How did it move ANY of the dozen plot lines forward? Rather than talk about how this impacted Ked, Round seems perfectly happy to let Dan be affected by it. Which just reinforced Dan's already overworked selfish nature. It was needless and only earned another groan from me as I read.

Round's clear utter negative view of Toronto really stood out throughout the novel. This perspective, again, did nothing to advance the plot or really the characters - except make Dan totally unlikeable. By the time the novel ended I just wanted Dan to go away and stop hating on my beloved city.

Then there were the annoying sexual stereotypes littered throughout the novel. Gay men who act more like women. Gay men who are slutty and can't control themselves around sex. Gay men who only club, drink and do drugs. Gay men who have superficial conversations about nothing deep. Gay men who have father issues. Gay men who are only concerned about their public image. Gay men who are obsessed with large cocks. This was so poorly constructed, I nearly put the book down and dropped it in a library donation bin.

Which brings me to my next beef with the novel - Round's obsession with the size of Dan's genitals. I'm I am pretty sure if I went through and counted the number of times it is mentioned, either by other characters or by Dan himself, it would amount to at least two dozens. Why!? What point to the novel or plot did this have? Was this supposed to stand in for character development - if so, it is certainly the strangest and most uncomfortable character development I've ever seen. There was even a point when Dan while drunk (surprise surprise) and pissing in public stops to admire how big he is. HUH?

These are just some of the biggest issues I had with the book. But did they distract me from enjoying the mystery plot line? Well, actually, yes they did. These strange diversions from, what I thought was a very good mystery plot, left huge breaks in the narrative. I would get a hint of the mystery and then have to wait 2-3 chapters while Dan moaned and whined about his life while drinking until I got back to what I was actually interested in. And in the end, the mystery plot gets resolved without Dan being present. While he's pondering on his life, the denouement happens off screen and the reader walks in at the last moment to see the aftermath. On top of that, I felt, the actual resolution was too quickly explained. How did the victim die? Who exactly killed him? The explanation is incredibly vague and not clearly laid out at all. So, in the end, the only thing that kept me reading was a disappointment.

The book had potential, but in the end just managed to annoy me and frustrate me. I really don't see myself picking up Round's next Dan Sharp mystery, unless the problems found in this one are fixed.
Profile Image for Thomas George Phillips.
306 reviews15 followers
October 28, 2019
Of the Dan Sharp Mysteries I have read to date, this is the most complex. It was full of twists and turns that leave the reader in total suspense. An excellent read.
Profile Image for Adam Dunn.
533 reviews21 followers
February 2, 2013
More please!
The next book in the series comes out spring 2014. How the hell can I wait that long???? More and faster please!

Loved this book. A good mystery, set in Toronto in places I recognize with a likeable and flawed hero. Fantastic, far reaching story. It maybe even reached a little too far sometimes in scope, it was a lot to tie back together at the end. I was expecting it to be more simple and was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the book.

Another thing I enjoyed is that the author had a couple of recaps. I wasn't able to sit and read this book in one or two sittings, life got in the way, and it took me a couple of weeks. It was nice when Dan would say, 'okay I'm going to the psychologist, let's see what I want to tell him. This happened, then this happened', and I'd be like, oh yeah, thanks for reminding me!

I liked the son, the best friend, the main character, all good.

Not saying the book was perfect but nothing glaring jumps out at me, and for what it was it was way better than I expected it to be, can't wait to read the next book in the series!

Oh, yeah, sorry, I remembered a couple things. The book could have been less down about Toronto. Also I dislike gays that criticize the gay village, it seems like who would want to be in any club that would have them as a member. My hopes for the next one are that it stays in Toronto and these couple things are toned down.
610 reviews8 followers
August 24, 2013
I'm having difficulty deciding whether I liked this book. It starts out as an interesting crime fiction story with an interesting hook, a suspicious death at a gay wedding. It soon morphs into a too-long life story of Dan Sharp -- a tortured soul if there ever was one. He's not a terribly sympathetic character for much of the book: he's even abusive to a dog. He's got anger management issues, substance abuse issues and the list goes on. His teenage son is the stronger of the two by far!

It would be a much better story if the Dan Sharp back story were to be cut in half and saved for later books in the series. Keeping to the story of the suspicious death and the search for the missing father would have let me rate this higher.

I would not rush out to read the next in the series.
Profile Image for Christian Baines.
Author 6 books104 followers
October 24, 2013
I always love a story driven by well-developed, memorable characters. Even more so when they're thrust into a genre novel. Dan Sharp is one of the most engaging protagonists I've encountered in a long time. Engaging, tough and likeable, with just a little bit of a temper to keep him interesting.

Jeffrey Round delivers a cracking mystery, yes. But he also weaves a background complex and real enough to let the reader dive straight in. There's a real sense of knowing Dan and the people in his life, and I can't wait to go on a case with them again.
Profile Image for Shonna Froebel.
3,663 reviews60 followers
November 21, 2012
This is a Dan Sharp mystery, the first one I've read. Dan is a private investigator specializing in missing persons. He has a great track record on finding people. Dan is also gay, and this plays a big role in his book. He's been dating Bill, a doctor, for around a year, but still doesn't feel part of Bill's life. A trip for the two of them to a wedding in Eastern Ontario marks the first real public outing for the two of them. Dan's best friend Donny tries to get him to see that Bill isn't a real partner to him. Dan's teenage son Ked is a strong presence, the one person around which Dan's life is built, and a call to reason. Ked has a good head on his shoulders and tells Dan when he is out of line.
This book takes Dan back to his beginnings in Sudbury and also helps him look into a long-time missing persons case. Another of Dan's clients reminds him of his own early life in Toronto, escaping a home that made him feel unwanted. There is a lot of character development here, and it is needed as Dan has a lot of developing to do. He's been lucky in his life overall to get him where he is now, but he isn't entirely happy and needs to figure out what would make him happy.
An interesting book, with some interesting themes
Profile Image for Kim.
Author 1 book2 followers
May 21, 2017
I liked the writing here, but the mystery involving the person who went overboard got lost in the shuffle. There was too much going on here and I think Round lost focus. Aside from the main murder you have a missing father who vanished twenty years ago, and a missing teen PI Dan Sharp has been hired to find. And, on top of all of this, Dan is dealing with a bad relationship with a surgeon (which was actually something I would have enjoyed reading more about), problems with his teenage son, a drinking problem, family issues with his own now-deceased mother and father, and more. Oy! I wish Round had not crammed so many story lines into the book because it would have been tighter and more enjoyable to read. Still, I liked the voice of Dan Sharp. He's a flawed individual who's working out his own demons and I look forward to reading more books in this series.
Profile Image for Averin.
Author 3 books24 followers
November 19, 2014
Real strong first entry of a series about a private missing persons detective. Reminiscent of Michael Nava's Henry Rios, in that both men are gay alcoholics, have issues with dead fathers, and made something of themselves from nothing.

Round has a lovely turn of phrase and is a great observer, but sometimes, the reader is left gasping for air. The mystery part was a little clunky but I can live with that because the characters are terrific, especially Dan's son Ked and best friend Donny.

Will definitely read the next one.
Profile Image for Kay Sachse.
207 reviews6 followers
July 13, 2015
Single dad father with emotional issues and a drinking problem. And with a boyfriend who is completely self-absorbed. That sounds as if it were a bit too much for a detective story, but this is much more than just a detective plot as Round needs more than 500 pages to tell us about Dan, his life, his son, his parents, his friend, his boyfriend and - o yes - about the little detective story that's connected. So, if you're looking for an exciting read, skip this one, but if you want more of a story, than this could be a good choice although less problems could have been a better choice.
Profile Image for Idamus.
1,144 reviews20 followers
March 2, 2018
I don’t like Dan, he’s mean to a dog, not once, but everytime they are in the same room. DNF and won’t try next book. Or other books by this author.
Profile Image for Wayne.
445 reviews
September 26, 2019
If I did not know better, I would say this book was written by two different people. One person could write. The other person could not. Around the 35% mark I came across some of the most awkward, pretentious and nonsensical writing I've ever read. A couple of examples:

"They turned to watch and her expression transformed: shyness to modesty betrayed. Now she was Julia Roberts spotted buying tampons and toothpaste in a common pharmacy. She tipped her glass at them and her expression changed again, as though she were trying out for the role of a character suffering multiple personality disorder."

"Trevor's voice made Dan think of a particular breed of man - confident and content without needing to show it. Men who knew when they needed drinks and when they didn't. Men who smiled and made others around them feel at ease without giving the least suggestion it was at their behest that they felt so."

I almost gave up after reading these selections. But, I kept on until I finished the book. I realize this is a successful writer who had published several books before this one. How, then, can one explain the uneven quality of the writing? Adding to this is the fact that the story Round wanted to tell was too ambitious for one book as well as the fact that his skills as a writer were not up to the task. I found myself asking the question throughout Lake on the Mountain, what kind of book the author was trying to write. Was this a murder mystery? Or was it a psychological study with a nod to Ordinary People? The two agendas do not treat each other fairly. The result for me as I determinedly plowed on to the end was unsatisfactory in both areas.

In spite of the lapses of extremely poor writing, there were moments of clarity that were exceptional. I will not say Jeffrey Round cannot write. But, I will say he needs to better define his subject matter for each book he writes and keep to that path. Maybe he should ask himself if he is a mystery writer or a writer of psychological studies. His skills as a writer as evidenced in this book do not lead me to believe he is capable of effectively combining the two.

I cannot recommend this book. It will not satisfy the mystery reader nor will it satisfy those readers who enjoy psychological character studies. It remains to be seen if I will continue this series.
Profile Image for Tex Reader.
465 reviews20 followers
May 26, 2020
3.5 of 5 - Even Balance of Sound Mystery, Characterization & Setting

I love gay mysteries, yet really appreciated how in this one the mystery did not predominate, but the story of the characters interwove just as much with the mystery behind the investigations. The people, investigations, and Canadian settings all added a good splash of color and drama.

I appreciated that Jeffrey Round did not give me a typical mystery structure, in two ways. First, there were actually several mysteries/investigations that were our missing person investigator's job and helped drive the story forward, The combo may have lessened the time on the main mystery, but it made the whole thing realistic in not being singularly focused on just one mystery, I liked seeing what happened in the minor investigations. And once I got into the rhythm of the story, I actually liked the slow build to the main mystery, which actually started earlier with the personal lives.

This was also not typical in that there was a balance of mystery with the personal lives, so it wasn't all about the mystery. I saw one reviewer mention there was not enough mystery because of the character's story, but that's exactly what I liked. Granted it lessened the main mystery due to less time spent, but not as much because the mystery and personal lives were so intertwined, you could advance all at the same time.

It was nice to see the lives these people had outside of work, and that's how Round nicely developed the character of this hard boiled PI with heart. He made me like him, but like his friends did, had to put up with some major faults. I loved how human Round showed him, and also showed the courage the MC had in trying to deal with those faults. The father-son dynamic felt real, not all macho, not all good. The relationships played out as they should have, both with friends and boy friends. The sex scenes were good; you can tell they were told from a guy's perspective. And I know it's also a guy thing, but did the MC have to have such a big one? It did make for some interesting moments, and thankfully it was not overplayed.

All in all, while nor memorable, it was quite enjoyable, such that I'm along for the ride, ready to see what happens next with Dan Sharp.
151 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2021
I read the whole thing, and I don’t have much patience with books I don’t like. There was a lot I didn’t like about it, but enough I liked to keep me going until the end. I liked the characters. Dan does some pretty unlikeable stuff at times, but you see his motivations and watch him learn and change. His friend, son and even the dog are well drawn characters, and that’s what kept me reading I think. But a lot of the time I found it dull and annoying. It was pretentious quite a lot, for example the pages discussing jazz reminded me of uni kids showing off how clever they are with some new knowledge they just gained. I skipped quite a lot, there were pages and pages that added nothing to the plot and weren’t entertaining to read.

The female characters were another thing that irritated me, in the way a lot of male authored books annoy me. We had the murder victim >>>SPOILER<<< who of course was pregnant to make it worse. The mean ex wife neighbour, the feisty assistant, the woman who’s worthy of bearing Dan’s child but not bringing him up. And there’s evil hell bitch cartoon villain woman, the book never even references the fact that her husband lied to her, used her and never loved her, the important thing is how the husband must have found it so hard that he needed to lie and cheat. The book hints she’s a psychopath or sociopath, but the pure venom of Dan’s thoughts about her don’t put him, or the author, in a good light in my eyes.
Profile Image for Wendell Hennan.
975 reviews1 follower
July 31, 2021
Dan Sharp is a missing persons investigator raising his teenaged son Ked since birth. He left his father in Sudbury as a teenager, escaping a relationship with his father wherein he was convinced that his father did not care for him. He spend the first nights on a park bench in Toronto, hustling, before being taken into a relationship with an older man that lasted for a few years until he unexpectedly died. Dan has good insight into the gay world although his own relationship with Doctor Bill is lacking. They attend a gay wedding in Picton, Ontario and one of the grooms' sister is swept overboard late in the evening. That begins Dan's involvement with the family who have horrific secrets, too much money and influence in Toronto and Picton. This is an incredible story, complex and layered, fatherhood, relationships, careers that undermine a positive upbeat lifestyle. An excellent read.
Profile Image for Wax.
1,295 reviews21 followers
November 6, 2017
I'm so torn about this book, because for what it was, it was fairly successful. There was a murder that needed to be solved (though it wasn't), however, it brought up an older missing persons investigation that was ultimately solved (kinda...there wasn't really a great wrap-up scene). I knew going in it wasn't really a romance, though there are relationships. However, I just couldn't get over how self-destructive Dan's character was. He has a stable job, a wonderful son and a great best friend. However, he chases after an unattainable man and consoles himself with drink. And during a memorable scene in the story, when he finds out a horrible secret, he basically snaps and does something pretty intolerable. When I have issues with the MC, then the story becomes difficult. I will continue the series only to see if anything really changes.
Profile Image for Suze.
3,431 reviews
February 13, 2020
Definitely on the grittier side of life, with references to Dan’s youth and current run aways, mental abuse, murder, drug addiction, alcoholism - you name, we had it here.
Dan is borderline not functioning - alcohol dependency, anger issues, bad family memories. So this is as much about him starting to claw his way out of his depression as it is about the murders on the lake.
I did enjoy the Toronto and surrounds descriptions as I have family there, lots of googling.
The two murders were kind of unresolved - we knew why, who and how in one but no body, we knew how but not really who in the other.
Dan’s current immediate family - son Ked, best friend Donny - struggle to make him see he needs help.
But we do end on a slightly upbeat note for Dan.
Will be getting the next one
Profile Image for Nick Smith.
74 reviews5 followers
July 22, 2018
This one tested my usual indifference to unlikable characters - I couldn't really find a single character to give a damn about here, from the protagonist on down. There is a mystery here, I suppose, but it's buried under some meandering and at times clunky character work and a number of subplots that don't really add up to a cohesive novel. The one interesting note - that the protagonist is a gay dad - got too short shrift, but we sure got to learn about how strapping and manly he was multiple times.
Profile Image for Terry.
263 reviews19 followers
September 8, 2019
This book reminded me of a "stream of consciousness" novel in many ways, having waded my way though 7 chapters it didn't appear to be getting anywhere and the writing style itself was less than I personally could deal with. The story seemed to meander around and I wondered if the actual story that reviewers here have noted was ever going to begin. However I decided that my time could be better spent so gave it up as a bad choice.
#DNF - not recommended
Profile Image for Brett.
56 reviews1 follower
September 30, 2019
Really fantastic book, though not because it's a mystery. The main character, Dan Sharp, it really interesting and gives the reader a glimpse at a well-rounded person. His son is another character who is fully there with a range of attitudes and viewpoints as any teen should. This is really more of a novel than a mystery, though at its heart there is a mystery and a murder. Highly recommended.
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