Joanna, a gothic time-travel author, decides a cottage at the lake is the perfect place for a relaxing summer with her dog. She'll finish her latest book and enjoy the peace and quiet. But things go wrong even before she gets to Spearmint Lake, and her life there is neither quiet nor peaceful.

She soon encounters vandals, ghosts and strange water sounds in her cottage, a gunshot victim and various odd local characters who seem connected to an old unsolved murder. Joanna also meets a handsome policeman, whom she first mistakes for the ghost. She is inextricably drawn into the old case, which is as gothic as one of her stories.

A disjointed plot and fragmented, inconsistent characters destroy this attempt to bring a gothic style to Joanna's summer adventure. The book reads like a writing exercise still in an early draft, lacking the blending that would allow the reader to follow the plot twists. Readers may need a strong stimulant to finish this one. (Mar., 330 pp., $11.95)
Reviewed by: 
Bunny Callahan