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Mystery/Whodunnit Discussions > Lake on the Mountain - a Dan Sharp Mystery by Jeffrey Round

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message 1: by Aussie54 (new)

Aussie54 | 322 comments Lake on the Mountain just won the 25th Annual Lambda Literature Award for Best Gay Mystery: link.

I managed to read quite a large excerpt from the publisher's site, then was very pleased to find it available at the Australian Sony Reader store at a discounted price.

Anyone read it? What I've read so far seems a bit bleak. The main character, Dan, has a lot of anger issues.


message 2: by Aussie54 (new)

Aussie54 | 322 comments I've finished this now. It's a gritty book. The story takes place in Toronto, Canada, and I don't think the author will win any prizes from their Tourist Commission. What a bleak, ugly city it sounds! This is a theme that runs throughout the book. There are some lighter moments, but on the whole, it's a bit of a downer.

However, Dan does fight to overcome his anger issues, his growing reliance on booze, and his dependency on men who are not right for him. The mystery is interesting, and the sub-plot about a missing teen adds an extra layer to the story, tying in with Dan's own experiences, and how he feels about his son.

At times, the author goes off on little tangents, with overly descriptive accounts of events happening around Dan. I tended to skip over them. They seemed to be an internal author monologue, which didn't add much to the story.

I'd give it three and a half stars. I'd like to read the next two books in the series, to see what happens to Dan.


message 3: by PaperMoon (new)

PaperMoon | 664 comments Mod
Based on your comments Aussie54, I've bought this and will post my response to it post-reading. Thanks.


message 4: by Jax (new)

Jax | 979 comments I seem to be following PaperMoon around the forum tonite! Your posts are leading me to things I've missed. Anyway, I read this a few months ago and my reaction was very similar to yours, Aussie54. The note I made in my reading log was: 'well written, but slow and gloomy'. Haven't decide whether to read the next book yet.


message 5: by PaperMoon (last edited Sep 10, 2014 11:01PM) (new)

PaperMoon | 664 comments Mod
I've finally read this, the first of the Dan Sharp mysteries and I really really liked it. Yes Dan is complex and repressed and struggles with low esteem, anger and substance misuse - but so so real and I felt his deep pain and conflict over his very troubled childhood and his lack of parental love/support etc. I like how this impacts his relating to and raising of a fast growing son (and pet dog) ... not all roses and sweetness there.

The murder components were a little haphazard ... several missing person cases are dealt with - some better than others. I was a little disappointed with how the murder at the wedding boat party was resolved - some characters just up and disappeared abruptly.

It is the fleshing out of Dan as a character, as well as several of his friends and potential lovers, that caught my attention. Perhaps some would find there too much delving into the internal psyche of our MC ... as well the complex father-son relationship struggles a lot of men face; all this really appealed to me.

I appreciate that the author depicts Dan as not your regular well-developed middle aged hunk with a striking chiseled face. Dan's character reminds more of Dave Brandstetter or Benjamin Justice than say Nick Nowak / Russell Quant/Paul Winters - a much rougher diamond.

(view spoiler)

A solid four and half star read for me and I am really looking forward to reading the next two books in the series and getting to know Dan, his potential boyfriend, his extended family and his friends even more. Thanks for the rec Aussie54.




message 6: by Jon (new)

Jon (jon_michaelsen) | 187 comments PaperMoon wrote: "I've finally read this, the first of the Dan Sharp mysteries and I really really liked it. Yes Dan is complex and repressed and struggles with low esteem, anger and substance misuse - but so so re..."

I really enjoyed the book as well, but the second one Pumpkin Eater: A Dan Sharp Mystery is my favorite so far.


message 7: by Jon (new)

Jon (jon_michaelsen) | 187 comments Check out my recent interview with author Jeffrey Round;

http://www.jonmichaelsen.net/?p=1966


message 8: by PaperMoon (new)

PaperMoon | 664 comments Mod
I just finished Pumpkin Eater: A Dan Sharp Mystery- excellent read with wonderfully complex characters. Dan's troubled inner workings and his relational difficulties with family and friends are so organically real and heart-breaking. The 'mystery-killer' component was a little convoluted at times for my logic - especially near the ending, but I did guess who the bad-guy was before the reveal. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.


message 9: by Jon (new)

Jon (jon_michaelsen) | 187 comments PaperMoon wrote: "I just finished Pumpkin Eater: A Dan Sharp Mystery- excellent read with wonderfully complex characters. Dan's troubled inner workings and his relational difficulties with family an..."

Glad you enjoyed it; I certainly did. The third book is The Jade Butterfly: A Dan Sharp Mystery, which is out only in print right now, set for e-book release in March 2015.


message 10: by PaperMoon (new)

PaperMoon | 664 comments Mod
Thank Jon - I can't wait!


message 11: by Aussie54 (new)

Aussie54 | 322 comments PaperMoon wrote: "I just finished Pumpkin Eater: A Dan Sharp Mystery- excellent read with wonderfully complex characters. Dan's troubled inner workings and his relational difficulties with family an..."

I'll add my review for "Pumpkin Eater ... ". We have slightly different takes on the book; it'll be interesting to see what we think of the third story in the series.

I’m not sure how I feel about this sequel to “Lake on the Mountain”. Dan seems to be a different person – gone is the depression and despair felt in that book, no doubt due to the new man in his life, which is a plus. However, this time around there isn’t an uplifting, hopeful ending. I’m confused as to why and how things worked out, both mystery wise and in Dan’s personal life. (view spoiler) Maybe the third book in the series will be less unsettling.

It was surprising to meet a new character that hadn’t been mentioned before, one that seemingly had been important in Dan’s earlier life. Domingo has a para-normal, mystic feel to her, as she can sense things about people. In such a pragmatic book, the introduction of Domingo’s talents seemed out of kilter.


The mystery, along with Round’s pacing and writing style, was interesting enough to keep me engrossed, which is why I gave it three stars.


message 12: by PaperMoon (new)

PaperMoon | 664 comments Mod
I find Dan's character more akin to the gumshoe sleuths of the 1940/50s. These characters tend to be conflicted and more often than not - relationally challenged. They attract the usual bevy of beautiful women in the books (either as clients/suspects) but the gumshoe sleuth usually ends up alone by book's end ... or dumped or broken up by the next book. There's none of the deep declarations of abiding love (or long tern relationships) I find in more modern M-M whodunnits. So I was not all that surprised with how Dan's personal life ended at the end of the book. Interestingly - Marshall Thornton's book 6 didn't end all that differently for his sleuth Nick Nowak.

Since this is only the second book in the series - I have higher hopes that there will be greater personal growth and development for Dan. Joseph Hansen's Brandstetter had to lose a couple of lovers before he ended up with Cyril. Greg Herren's Chance McLeod had to wait till book 6 before there was even a chance for a longer term relationship with Rory.


message 13: by Jon (new)

Jon (jon_michaelsen) | 187 comments PaperMoon wrote: "I find Dan's character more akin to the gumshoe sleuths of the 1940/50s. These characters tend to be conflicted and more often than not - relationally challenged. They attract the usual bevy of b..."

Personally, I miss the more conflicted and challenged sleuths as many current novels tend to avoid such complicated characters (I believe the market has driven this with the popularity of M/M and gay romantic fiction, which often translates into HEA/HFN expectations in all gay fiction). I miss characters such as Hansen's Brandstetter, Richard Stevenson's Death Trick Strachey, or John Morgan Wilson's Benjamin Justice. These authors greatly influenced my main character in the Kendall Parker mystery seriesPretty Boy Dead as I wanted a flawed, likable character with many faults to grow out of and overcome as the series progresses.


message 14: by PaperMoon (new)

PaperMoon | 664 comments Mod
Jon wrote: "Personally, I miss the more conflicted and challenged sleuths as many current novels tend to avoid such complicated characters "

I'm in agreement with you there Jon. I've only seen the filmed versions of the Strachey series so didn't Donald have a LT relationship with Timmy (unless I'm guessing Timmy didn't come along until later in the series).


message 15: by Jon (new)

Jon (jon_michaelsen) | 187 comments PaperMoon wrote: "Jon wrote: "Personally, I miss the more conflicted and challenged sleuths as many current novels tend to avoid such complicated characters "

I'm in agreement with you there Jon. I've only seen th..."


Yes, Donald Strachey was with Timmy for all 13 books (thus far), but each was unfaithful if memory serves (Timmy first); One of the reasons I so enjoy Marshall Thornton's Boystown: Three Nick Nowak Mysteries gay mystery series so much is because the MC, Nick Nowak, who is a former cop-turned-private-detective is non conventional, has numerous faults, is sometimes not likable, and is a non-apologetic horn-dog (after all, the series is set in the 80s), but grows through the novels (six thus far).


message 16: by Averin (new)

Averin | 22 comments I just read Lake on the Mountain, I enjoyed it but you all are correct, it does ramble. Dan Sharp reminds me of Michael Nava's Henry Rios--similar issues except Dan gets his shit together sooner. Simple Justice seemed depressingly dark, I didn't continue through the series because the first book was so hard. Maybe I'll give it another look.


message 17: by PaperMoon (new)

PaperMoon | 664 comments Mod
OK folks - I've just bought The Jade Butterfly: A Dan Sharp Mystery as an e-book and have scheduled myself to start the next Dan Sharp read this coming weekend. Wish me luck LOL!




message 18: by Ulysses (new)

Ulysses Dietz | 1542 comments 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 Dan’s 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


message 19: by PaperMoon (new)

PaperMoon | 664 comments Mod
Ulysses wrote: "The Lake on the Mountain (Dan Sharp 1)
By Jeffrey Round
Published by Dundurn (Toronto), 2012
Five stars

... 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 "


Glad you liked it Uly. Kedrick, Kendra and Donny are the best and I love the multi-racial/cultural mix of Jeff's family grouping.


message 20: by Ulysses (new)

Ulysses Dietz | 1542 comments PaperMoon wrote: "Ulysses wrote: "The Lake on the Mountain (Dan Sharp 1)
By Jeffrey Round
Published by Dundurn (Toronto), 2012
Five stars

This is probably one I picked up from your review...rarely do I find a book I review reviewed already on "our" site.



message 21: by PaperMoon (new)

PaperMoon | 664 comments Mod
Thank you for consistently adding to the site.


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