Short story: “The Frozen Lake”

by look i have opinions

“The Frozen Lake,” by John Shirley

Appeared in Crimewave 9: Transgressions, 2007 (purchase here), edited by Andy Cox; an ebook for sale online here

14 and 2/3 pages in Crimewave, maybe 4,000 words?

This story strikes me as utterly exemplary of Crimewave. Maybe the editor agrees with me, since he uses it to close the issue. It’s well-written and dark and fraught with tension and very slightly disappointing. The crime plot is exciting, but not especially original (suburban serial killer, trophies hidden in scale models). The main character’s passivity makes the ending painfully sad, but predictable; we can pity her and look down on her, but that’s as deep as we can go.

I feel ungrateful talking about the shortcomings of Crimewave, because it’s an amazing accomplishment. It hits a lot of the notes that make genre fiction so much fun, and it goes beyond that, cultivating fine prose and psychological depth and subtlety. Sometimes I want it to go further.