The Secret Ever Keeps
On the same day that Laurel Kingsford is passed over for promotion in what is obviously an act of sex discrimination, her live-in boyfriend moves out of her apartment, taking everything of value as well as cleaning out her bank account. In a state of depression, Laurel retreats to a resort on Lake Ontario where she spent her childhood summers. There she meets Jake Eastland, the resort’s reclusive, ninety-three-year-old, year-round resident. Jake befriends Laurel, winning her confidence with tales of a British ship carrying a load of gold that was lost on the lake in a storm during the American Revolution. In an effort to draw Laurel out, Jake, whom she calls “Grandpa Jake,” tells her some of his history. Through flashbacks, we learn how Jake built a fortune first by smuggling whiskey during Prohibition and after the repeal by dealing in scrap metal. We also learn of his enemies and of two women, one whom he loved and the other whom he married. There is a mystery about Jake and his connection to Laurel, the treasure of gold, and the threats to Laurel’s life that is slowly revealed.
Mr. Tirrell has written an interesting and intriguing novel with colorful and well-developed characters. His knowledge of Lake Ontario, sailing, and marine biology are related in the course of the story in a way that adds to the momentum. His portrayal of Jake as a man who rises from poverty to a position of wealth, the power wealth can buy, and the self-destruction it causes is superb.