Plain Jane

Lesbian fiction author Ellen Hart loses her way with latest Jane Lawless mystery, ‘Lost Women’

The Lost Women of Lost Lake, by Ellen Hart. Minotaur Press (2011), $26, 320 pp.

Cordelia Thorn figured she would just lend a quick hand. Tessa Cornell, Cornelia’s old friend in the northern Minnesota ’burg of Lost Lake, had taken a tumble and hurt her leg. Tessa was directing the community play, so somebody needed to finish the job while she was healing; Cornelia volunteered, and invited her best friend, Jane Lawless, along. Jane, a restaurateur and part-time private investigator, was still mourning the death of her long-time partner; a trip would do her good.

Tessa was happy to have help with the play, but she didn’t need any company — definitely not some P.I. wannabe.

Jonah Ivorsen hated moving, so when he decided to hitchhike from St. Louis to Lost Lake, he was sure his aunt Jill and Jill’s wife, Tessa, would let him stay with them. But then a body was discovered and another one followed it fast. The authorities were zeroing in on a mysterious fire, and Tessa was obviously lying to everybody. Can Jane Lawless sort things out before someone else dies?

Oh, how I love books with Jane Lawless in them! Jane is an unlikely heroine and reluctant private eye who doesn’t seem to want her hobby to turn into work, yet there’s a will-she-make-it-permanent thread in this book that’s satisfactorily solved. There’s also a possible romance angle that slyly teases readers.

But as much as I love Ellen Hart’s main character, the supporting cast in The Lost Women of Lost Lake almost all need to take a dive. I had to work to keep my eyes from rolling, not only because of the cliché peripheral characters but also for the cliché things they say. Triteness definitely taints this otherwise fine mystery.

Fans of the Jane Lawless series should be able to overlook these faults, but if you’re not already a fan, start with another book. For you, The Lost Women of Lost Lake will not be looked upon swimmingly.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

News: Stephen Hawking, Cornell, Ryan Kwanten, Blondie


7.4 earthquake strikes New Zealand.

Road Washington Post endorses homophobic candidate backed by NOM.

Handofgod RoadStephen Hawking: Universe not created by God. "In his 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, Hawking had seemed to accept the role of God in the creation of the universe. But in the new text, co-written with American physicist Leonard Mlodinow, he said new theories showed a creator is 'not necessary'."

RoadCeline Dion is amazing! And so is her family.

RoadDid Paris Hilton bust herself via Twitter?

RoadNYT: The British Foreign minister doth protest too much. "Mr. Hague, third-ranking minister in the coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron, brought the issue into the glare of national attention when he issued a statement on Wednesday seeking to end “continued and hurtful speculation” prompted by a political blogger concerning his relationship with a 25-year-old male adviser at the foreign office." Will he walk?

RoadMadam Secretary and the former Prime Minister.

RoadHugh Jackman makes emotional appearance in cancer patient's birthday video.

Books RoadRings made from cross-sections of books. Pictured: Jane Eyre.

RoadBoy George watches synth duo Hurts launch album in London: "The former Culture Club singer was among the invited guests to the lavish venue for the event, and was wearing a glittery green hat as Theo Hutcraft and Adam Anderson's band played a seven-song set."

RoadCornell newspaper columnist compares being gay to an eating disorder, and not knowing how to insert a tampon: "Everyone has secrets. Your roommate might not know how to put in a tampon, or the skinniest girl on campus might have secret Twinkie binges every night. But these secrets don’t affect anyone else, while yours does. It would be just as unethical for you to 'pretend to be straight' to avoid discomfort as it would be for a guy to get breast implants in order to land a sweet single in [an all female dorm]. No matter what the motivation, placing your roommates in a situation that could potentially make them very uncomfortable if they knew the truth is just not ethical."

RoadMerck to test cancer drug on HIV?

Kwanten RoadRyan Kwanten shows off his man power.

RoadRick Astley has a new video (not a Rick Roll, trust).

RoadShark watch continues in Provincetown.

RoadRugby god Ben Cohen's jock strap fetched 0 at gay auction.

RoadMeeting Blondie.

RoadMore evidence found of super-fast changes in Earth's magnetic field: "Magnetic minerals in 15-million-year-old rocks appear to preserve a moment when the magnetic north pole was rapidly on its way to becoming the south pole, and vice versa. Such 'geomagnetic field reversals' occur every couple hundred thousand years, normally taking about 4,000 years to make the change. The Nevada rocks suggest that this particular switch happened at a remarkably fast clip."

Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright