This spellbinding literary ghost story won raves when it was first published in 2000, with The Boston Globe hailing Bartholomew Crane as "a protagonist for the new millennium" and The New York Times declaring, "Everything about this dark, disquieting story confounds expectations."
When hotshot young attorney Barth Crane is shipped off into the backwoods town of Murdoch, Ontario to try his first murder case, nothing is as it seems. First of all, there are no bodies.
Two teenage girls have disappeared and although their bodies have not been found, their English teacher has been arrested and charged with murder. Crane, a city lawyer with a burgeoning cocaine problem and disdain for the bumbling townspeople, is convinced he can successfully defend his client, Thomas Tripp, in the absence of hard evidence—let alone a body.
But Tripp is not forthcoming with his lawyer and the locals are just as wary of Barth Crane as he is of them. And faced with increasing isolation and whispered legends of the town’s infamous ghost—the Lady of the Lake—not to mention his own drug-fueled paranoia, Crane finds himself less confident as the trial wears on and the lost girls demand to be heard . . . seemingly from beyond the grave.
Toronto resident Pyper's spell-binding debut succeeds on so many levels--as a mystery, a legal thriller, a literary character study--that's it's obvious why it was a #1 bestseller last year in Canada. Breathing new life into a modern cliche, the lawyer in need of redemption, the narrator and proudly unlikable main character is do-anything-to-win Toronto attorney Bartholomew Crane, who is assigned the "lost girls" case by his firm, Lyle, Gederov (colloquially known as "Lie, Get 'Em Off"). Two schoolgirls are missing and presumed drowned in Lake St. Christopher, in the outback of Murdoch, Ontario. The man accused of their murder is one of the girls' teachers, Thomas Tripp. Crane quickly discovers that Tripp is uncooperative and seemingly insane, blaming the girls' disappearance on the legendary ghost of a woman who drowned 50 years ago in the lake. Since there's little more than circumstantial evidence against Tripp, Crane is initially confident that he can get the man off. But that confidence dissolves as he immerses himself in the case and the history of the region. Pyper uses Crane's almost vicious self-awareness to chart the crumbling of his self-image as he binges on cocaine, goes stir-crazy in the rural town, and confronts a long-repressed tragedy from his past that bears on the case. As Crane's devastating history unfolds, it's revealed how he became such a shark; as he accepts the truth about himself and his desperate need to solve the mystery behind the ghost story, his fundamental character is illuminated-gradually, with the same restrained suspense that makes Pyper's ingeniously tight plotline so compulsively appealing. BOMC/QPB featured alternate.