There was a movie director in the 1950s who specialized in glossy, noir-adjacent melodramas featuring the gorgeous rich in amazing locations (lake-adjacent!), Douglas Sirk. Magnificent Obsession, All That Heaven Allows, and Imitation of Life are a few of his works, and they generally starred actors such as Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman. That was absolutely the vibe this book gave me from the start. I hereby nominate Rock Hudson, Barbara Stanwyck (she does gorgeous rich crazy lady so well), and Henry Fonda for our leading characters.
The time is the mid-1930s. The titular Reserve is a privately held preserve of forest and a chain of lakes in the Adirondacks. The properties, or “camps”, are in the hands of wealthy families, who use them on a seasonal basis, assisted by a small village of locals, who serve as guides, servants, etc. during the season and make do on their own until the next one rolls around. It’s a living.
Our hero, Rock Hudson (AKA Jordan Groves), a well-known artist, swans in one summer’s evening, in a whim, landing his sea plane onto the lake next to wealthy gorgeous heiress Barbara Stanwyck (AKA Vanessa Cole, although she has several other names). She is poking her toes in the sand in a melancholy way, sitting far apart from her family and their guests, and there you go. There is murder, accidently and otherwise, much illicit canoodling, and scheming galore.
So settle back and enjoy. And don’t make the mistake I did (because of the title and the author’s name, Banks) of picking it up each time and looking at the cover, thinking, waaaaait. That doesn’t look like the Federal Reserve.