Not gonna lie, I saw this moose knit purple sweater cover and had to read this book. It wasn’t even a choice.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a murder mystery. I guess watching the first season of Twin Peaks put me in the mood for another darkly twisted story. Plus, living in Brooklyn has made me a fool for stories set in small towns. Spotting this book on the library shelf was like finally finding the perfect food when you’re hungry and wandering the grocery store and determined not to have corn chips and ice cream for dinner.
Serves me right for loving a book by its cover.
Life’s already rough for Kibby when her best friend, Ruth, is found in the cornfield behind Kibby’s house, her body hanging from a tree stuffed with straw like a scare crow. It would be a strange crime anywhere, but in Friendship, Wisconsin, it’s too disturbing to even talk about. So everyone is trying their best not to. Instead they focus on shooting deer and driving around with carcasses strapped to their hoods.
So whodunnit? The police, predictably bumbling and deliberately obtuse, conveniently latch on to the first lead that falls in their laps. This leaves on Kibby and Ruth’s PTSD-suffering older brother to crack the case with Ruth’s scribbled diary and Kibby’s social ineptitude to light the way.
The youngest graduate of a Non-Violent Communication Group, Kibby’s old tendencies to hurt the one’s she loves comes back with a vengeance as she struggles to deal with the loss of her friend, a murderer on the loose, and the nasty comments Ruth wrote about her in the diary. In the way that many current pop rock songs will put gut wrenching lyrics with lovely, almost symphonic arrangements, Hale seems like she’s trying to inject humor through Kibby’s manic pixie dream girl off-beatedness. It doesn’t work. The plot quickly spins off track from trying to be creepy to unintended silliness.
To me, this is the kind of book that, to enjoy, you must ignore the mess, obvious ending and have a hearty appetite for undercooked character soup. The story could have been okay, but it lacked a consistent tone and failed to deliver one original moment. It struck me as poorly written with annoyingly hokey dialogue, but this could be a matter of taste. I read this on a train with no backup books otherwise I would’ve put it down after 20 pages.
Oh well. A small pile of mystery books is growing in my apartment, mostly thanks to stoop sales. This pile includes some Tana French and Donna Tartt, so hopefully I will have satisfaction soon.
Contrary reactions to this book include: