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RIVETING AND GRIPPING...
am 16. Januar 2003
This is an exquisitely written book. So beautifully is it written that, at times, its lyricism is almost poetic. The richness of the writing is immediately apparent in the prologue. It is the prologue that draws the reader in, so rich is it in its descriptiveness. It is there that the reader first comes upon "The Church of Dead Girls."
The book itself is not so much about the murder of young girls, as it is about the reactions of the people in the small town in which the murders occur. It is their reactions to the murders that are central to this book and conveyed to the reader through a brilliantly nuanced, first person narrative by the town's high school biology teacher.
The people in the town of Aurelius in upstate New York are like those found in many small towns, insular and inherently suspicious of anything different from that which they are used to. Aurelius is representative of a lot of small towns across America. There is really nothing special about this moribund, complacent little town, until young, teenage girls begin disappearing, one by one.
Through the contrivance of first person narration, the author explores the deepest recesses of human nature, as suspicions and accusations unfold and finger pointing begins. No one in town is exempt from the poison of suspicion. The finger is first pointed to the most likely target, a foreign-born college professor whose ideas run counter to that of mainstream Middle America. He is a newcomer to the town and is as different from the majority of the townspeople as can be. This hapless individual becomes demonized in the frenzy of suspicion, petty hatreds, and fear with draconian results. Unfortunately, he is only the first.
As the townspeople rally to find the killer amongst them, they devolve, letting impulse, suspicion, and fear grow and dictate their actions. It is as if the murders were the catalyst for the rise in vigilantism, the re-opening of old wounds, and the targeting of innocents in the desperate quest to find the killer. One can see the growth of mob mentality evolve on the pages of this book. It is this phenomenon that the author explores through the book's narrative discourse, beautifully, lyrically, powerfully. It is a narrative that will grip the reader from beginning to end.
While the actual ending of the book is somewhat anti-climactic, it should be emphasized that this book was never really about who committed the murders. It is more about the boogeyman of fear that lives deep inside each and everyone of us and about what can happen when that boogeyman is released. It is that, which is truly frightening, as the boogeyman lives in Everyman in Everytown.