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Book Review: 'In the Lake of the Woods'

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If any American novelist creating more beautifully written, emotionally harrowing tales than Tim O’Brien, I don’t know who it could be. Like The Things They Carried and his National Book Award-winning Going After Cacciato, O’Brien’s latest book carries us to Vietnam. The story begins, however, at a cabin on Minnesota lake, where John Wade and his wife have taken refuge after his defeat in a U.S. Senate race. It seems there was a trapdoor under Wade’s life, and the press sprung it, which dropped the candidate from 37 points in the polls virtually overnight. It also introduced his wife, Kathy, to a soldier known as Sorcerer — an elusive character with a repertoire of magic tricks and secrets left over from the war, terrible, unimaginable secrets. The soldier had been sleeping next to her for almost 20 years. Then one night on the Lake of the Woods, Kathy vanishes without a word or trace. Did Sorcerer make her disappear? Some think so. Others believe she simply ran away. This is a memorable mystery story charged with haunting ambiguity. A