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Lake of Sorrows

Lake of Sorrows

A Novel

  • reading group guide
American pathologist Nora Gavin has come to the Irish midlands to examine a body unearthed at a desolate spot known as the Lake of Sorrows. As with all the artifacts culled from its prehistoric depths, the bog has effectively preserved the dead man's remains -- his multiple wounds suggest he was the victim of an ancient pagan sacrifice known as "triple death." But signs of a more recent slaying emerge when a second body, bearing a similar wound pattern, is found -- this one sporting a wristwatch.

Someone has come to this quagmire to sink their dreadful handiwork -- and Nora soon realizes that she is being pulled deeper into the land and all it holds: the secrets to a cache of missing gold, a tumultuous love affair with archaeologist Cormac Maguire, and the dark mysteries and desires of the workers at the site. As they draw closer to the truth, Nora and Cormac must exercise the utmost caution to avoid becoming the next victims of a ruthless killer fixated on the gruesome notion of triple death.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416541301 | 
  • August 2007
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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide

Lake of Sorrows by Erin Hart

1. Lake of Sorrows opens with a graphic scene: a young man sinking and eventually drowning in a bog. After reading the whole story, can you be certain of the young man’s identity, or is it still ambiguous? What does the opening chapter foreshadow about rest of the book?

2. The industrial bogs of the Irish midlands provide a most unusual atmosphere in this novel. The bog has played many roles in Irish history, as a place of spirituality, mystery, and commerce. What does this unique environment contribute to the story? What elements of the bog landscape can you see reflected in the psychological development of the characters?

3. The bog has often functioned as hiding place for secret treasure. Many of the characters in Lake of Sorrows have hidden or buried physical objects, or intangible things such as their personal history or emotions. Can you think of examples? Which are revealed in this novel, and which still remain buried at its conclusion? What do the things people hide reveal about them as characters?

4. Sacrifice is one of the major themes in Lake of Sorrows. The bog that was once a mysterious place of sacrifice in ancient times is being sacrificed in modern times to generate electricity. In what other ways do ideas about sacred offerings and sacrifice still resonate in the characters’ daily lives?

5. Nora wishes she could se see more

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About the Author

Erin Hart
photograph by Joyce Ravid

Erin Hart

Erin Hart is a theater critic and former administrator at the Minnesota State Arts Board. A lifelong interest in Irish traditional music led her to cofound Minnesota’s Irish Music and Dance Association. She and her husband, musician Paddy O’Brien, live in St. Paul, Minnesota, and frequently visit Ireland. Erin Hart was nominated for the Agatha and Anthony Awards for her debut novel, Haunted Ground, and won the Friends of American Writers Award in 2004. Visit her website at ErinHart.com.

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