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Summary

On a lake deep in the Minnesota woods, Kathy Wade comforts her husband John, a rising political star, after a devastating electoral defeat in which he's been pursued by rumors of the atrocities he committed in Vietnam. But it is clear that something is horribly wrong between them - too much has been hidden. Then Kathy vanishes, along with their boat.

Pursued by rumors of the atrocities he committed in Vietnam, a politician and his wife seek refuge in a cabin in Minnesota, where a mystery unfolds, in this widely acclaimed, best-selling novel.

©1995 Tim O'Brien (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"A beautifully written, haunting novel that evokes lives in deep crisis." ( Booklist)
"O'Brien develops several maddeningly plausible explanations, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions in this dark but wonderful novel that should gain him a host of new fans. For fiction collections both large and small." ( Library Journal)
"Was she murdered? Did she run away? Instead of answering these questions, O'Brien raises even more as he slowly reveals past lives and long-hidden secrets. Included in this third-person narrative are 'interviews' with the couple's friends and family as well as footnoted excerpts from a mix of fictionalized newspaper reports on the case and real reports pertaining to historical events - a mélange that lends the novel an eerie sense of verisimilitude. If Kathy's disappearance is at the heart of this work, then John's involvement in a My Lai-type massacre in Vietnam is its core, and O'Brien uses it to demonstrate how wars don't necessarily end when governments say they do." (Amazon.com review)

What listeners say about In the Lake of the Woods

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  • T. Prizer
  • 05-03-19

Memory and the Erasure Thereof

As powerful a display of storytelling as I’ve ever encountered. The effects of war, dreams deferred, dreams abandoned, love, and trauma — all set against the backdrop of the great Minnesota wilderness. O’Brien is fantastic, and Ganser narrates beautifully.

6 people found this helpful

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  • mulkko
  • 05-02-19

spell bound

I loved every minute of it. this book really made me think about the complexity of the human mind and what we are all capable of as human beings, good and evil.

4 people found this helpful

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  • C. Reither
  • 08-06-18

May need a second go

This book is complicated but interesting. There are so many flashbacks and possible story lines and interviews for quotes though that I’m sure I need to read it myself or listen to it again to truly understand it’s intricacies.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Peggy Larson
  • 24-06-19

Too gruesome for me

I started listening to this book. I didn't get too far because the story wasn't clear to me and there were some scenes too gruesome even for me. Just didn't grab me and I found the characters set up confusing.

4 people found this helpful

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  • page partain
  • 31-07-15

Could not stop listening

Couldn't get it off my mind. Will contemplate its questions for some time. 15 unique words.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Molly
  • 30-01-13

Not a life-changing or pivotal war story

I read this book for a book group expecting big things, since I fell in love with The Things They Carried. This.. well it fell flat. I wasn't particularly motivated to keep listening, in part because the story wasn't that captivating. The characters no longer held my interest after getting about 1/4 of the way through. In part, it felt like they were colored *too* much by the narration--I disliked the performance of the wife, which made it harder for me to keep listening.

It might have been better if I'd read it, but I'm not sure. As one person I discussed the book with pointed out, the reliance on the My Lai Massacre and this future senator's role in it felt a bit cheap. The use of multiple possible narratives just didn't strike me as important. The "Evidence" chapters felt a bit like a cop out.

The only thing that felt really honest about the book was its inclusion of testimonials from the characters who participated in the war--O'Brien, as always, managed to capture what it does to a person when you teach them to kill and teach them to fight. I just don't know that I felt this story was necessary to make that point.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Jane Martin
  • 22-08-21

Leaves the reader with questions

Unique method of telling the story through several views of different people.

The story itself was disturbing. I don't know how John was able to leave the camp without any "DNA" or other signs of a murder. His sinking of the boat also seems impossible.

The Vietnam stories which I remember (but not in that much detail) were hard to read and I had to skim over some of it.

The book leaves me with more questions than answers. And sadness.

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  • DMBReader'nLeader
  • 12-07-21

Vietnam meets Houdini meets murder mystery

I liked the gradual revelations of John’s past, mixed with hypotheses about what happened with Cathy. It keeps you guessing all the way.

This is a unique type of Vietnam novel: dealing with the mental and moral fallout in a mesmerizing thriller.
Only 2 drawbacks of this book: the cursing + the quotes at the beginning of several chapters were long-winding.

I was glued to my car seat while listening to this audiobook. What a story!

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  • RS MD
  • 19-04-21

not worth the time

struggled... lost interest. and supposition after supposition sounded like words that were just filling space.

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  • TiffanyD
  • 18-01-21

Less successful than "The Things They Carried"

I really enjoyed "The Things They Carried" but I felt that this book was less successful both as a human story and as an examination of the Vietnam war. Although it definitely made me want to read more about the Mỹ Lai massacre.

If you are looking for endings that tie things up in a bow, this is most certainly not the book for you, although I wasn't bothered by that as much as I was bothered by how I never felt like I really understood John or Kathy or believed they could be real people.

The narration is completely fine expect for one rather egregious mispronunciation early on ("Edina"). Maybe have a native Minnesotan do a "proof listen" next time?