Ragged lake by Ron Corbett

After last week's disappointment in my 2018 Reading Challenge, I am glad to be right back on track with Ragged Lake by Ron Corbett. (This is my thriller set in the wild.)

You discover a lot about yourself through reading (don't you hate it when people say they only read non-fiction, ugh!) but I already knew I am more outdoorsy than a domestic goddess, so a thriller set in the wild will always be more my cup of espresso than a claustrophobic domestic thriller.

I don't know if it's me if this is a sign I should make a movie, ( a hilarious notion), but lately while reading I imagine the story playing out on the big screen.
Ragged Lake should become a movie. Too bad Tarantino is a tied up, trying to squirm himself out of this whole letting his muse crash against a tree thing and being an awful commentator on a thirteen-year-old preparedness for an adult sexual relationship, (Thirt-TEEN, dude.) And maybe Tarantino is not the right man for the job anyway seeing that Ragged Lake is way too similar to The Hateful Eight where Tarantino put some terrible people up in an abandoned cabin resulting in carnage and mayhem.
Ragged Lake, nominated for an Edgar Award, is set on The Northern Divide. A young tree marker makes a gruesome discovery in an abandoned cabin. Detective Frank Yakabuski a former army man, is sent to investigate. He leads a task force against a biker gang trafficking drugs.
Ragged Lake is snowed in and Frank and his deputies can only arrive there on snowmobiles. It has been freezing this week here, and this book made me feel even colder, so maybe next time, I'll save the Canadian wilderness for the height of summer.
Arriving in this remote and desolate part of the world it becomes clear it this town is rundown, once thriving when it still had a paper mill, now few people are left and Frank suspects them all and locks them up in the local fishing lodge. If you expect an Agatha Christie kind of narrative, where Frank will gather them around and point at the culprit, this is not that kind of book. Or maybe this is Ten little Indians.
And now I hear how that sounds because a large part of the story revolves around a beautiful Cree Indian girl named Lucy. One of the people that died in the cabin.

What I loved about Ragged Lake were the descriptions of the landscape, the language is beautiful, effective and evocative, it made me feel like I was freezing my ass off in Canadian wilderness myself, knowing that IRL I don't want to go to this godforsaken place. Why? Because the narrative is as chilling and harsh as the landscape, people drop like flies, and mercy in this town is a faraway concept.

The thing I liked less was how Ragged Lake was structured.
The other people killed in the cabin are Lucy's husband and their little girl. Lucy had a very interesting life, she was on her own, meeting the worst of the worst, from an early age. We know this because Frank finds her diary, and for large chunks in the book, we read along with him. These would be the flashbacks in a movie. Flashbacks can be jarring in a thriller when you want the story to move forward.
This book is very similar to Jane Harper's The Dry, one of the best thrillers of 2017: an unforgiving landscape, a family killed, a town full of losers, where the past of one of the victims causes everything that comes next. The flashbacks in The Dry where intricately woven through the story. It was easier because the man investigating shared a past with the victims.
Frank does not.
The diary parts are very well written, but I wished it was set up differently. Even if we get to know Lucy through her writing, the story loses momentum, its stakes.
Ragged Lake is quite nihilistic, there's a huge amount of violence, coldly calculated moves, and a methodical way to solve this mystery.
I may sound like I didn't like it very much, but I did. With his first-rate style, a new world that I enjoyed exploring and an original set up it has great potential, I look forward to the next Frank Yakabuski mystery.