Despite the lurid title, Dobyns's latest novel (he is a poet and author of the "Saratoga" mystery series) is a compelling mystery that shows how the people in a small town change because of a series of murders. First, a promiscuous woman is murdered. Then three girls disappear in succession. The narrator reports how the symptoms of fear escalate into a raging disease consuming the community. Cloaking prejudice and fear with righteousness, certain citizens target individuals who are on the community's fringe. By the story's end, no one escapes suspicion. Many characters and the complexities of human interactions receive well-rounded treatment. This absorbing tale, fit for any general collection, is highly recommended.
LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW
This is a great mystery with kinky sex, freaky characters, and many twists and turns. I couldn't put it down until I was done!
I picked this up at a discount store because I noticed it had a little blurb on the cover from Stephen King recommending it. I was glad that I did. It's a good "read in the dark" kind of book. I rarely pick up an unknown author and this book was a nice suprise. The characters and chilling mystery drew me in. I couldn't put it down.
Everyone seems to love the Stieg Larsson books right now (i.e., The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, etc.) but I think Dobyn's has those books beat in The Church of Dead Girls. So if you like the writing style of Larsson, you really must give this one a read. I thought this was an excellent psychological thriller/mystery and a tremendous study of what the increasing paranoia can do to a small town as it slowly realizes that something horrible is happening in their previously safe, slightly boring midst. You'll stay up to the wee hours of the night reading this one!
Despite its superficial resemblance to a whodunit, The Church of Dead Girls
is not a "thriller." Don't expect it to be suspenseful. This is a literary horror tale--slow-paced, contemplative, meticulous in its descriptions--a horror tale about a formerly sleepy small town in which the crucial distinction between public and private life is dissolving, as suspicion spreads like a toxin. The reader's guide to this process of corruption is a high school biology teacher--reserved, somewhat snotty, but a thoughtful man, and reliable in spite of his cynicism. He says, "It is dreadful not to be allowed to have secrets. Years ago I happened to uncover a nest of baby moles in the backyard and I watched them writhe miserably in the sunlight. We were like that." Ultimately you realize that the killer's identity, even the deaths of three girls, are small matters compared to the collapse of the town's very soul.
This novel is available from my Bookshelf
I love this book! Even though it is a mystery, I have read it several times b/c it is so chilling.
A small town in upstate New York is paralyzed by fear when three young girls vanish, one by one. The townspeople turn on each other, accusing almost everyone of the crime. The tension and paranoia in the book are almost palpable as you read! The plot twists will surprise you and the true identity of the perpetrator will shock you!!!
Very good murder mystery. A good scary read.
One by one, three young girls disappear in a small town in upstate New York. With the first disappearance, townspeople begin to mistrust outsiders. When the second girl disappears, they grow suspicious of each other. And with the third disappearance, the town awakens to a full-blown nightmare. This book probes the ruinous effects of suspicion. As panic mounts and citizens take the law into their own hands, old rumors, old angers and old hungers come to the surface to reveal the secret history of this town and the dark pulses of its inhabitants.
The book is long, lots of details about everyone in town, so you don't know who to suspect, but it's good & suspenseful.
I remember reading this in highschool and being creeped out! I loved it and read it several times over. Very creepy.
interesting tale of how suspicion can ruin a town and how one evil persons actions can cause people to become suspicios; good study in human nature
If you like mystery, and suspense, and just a touch of horror, this is ideal.
A small upstate New York village. Friends and neighbors that you've known for years. Quiet, safe ... that's what they all believe..... until young girls start disappearing.
The story, told by a teacher's viewpoint is much more than a who-dun-it and where are the girls. This story takes us into the very lives of everyone living there during this awful time. Suspicion becomes paranoia ..... friends become suspect ..... some become murderers.
Approximately 400 pages, this is not a book you can race through. The author has paid exqisite attention to detail. You know these people .. you can identify with their secrets, their desires, their nightmares.
The book builds to a sinister ending after each disappearance. It's very hard to find a place to be able to walk away. The people in this sleepy little village will stay with you for a very long time.
story wasn't going anywhere after nearly 100 pages, it just kept dragging on and on about the people of the town and I guess you needed to know that in order to get to the main story but it was just too boring
This book sounded so promising and the reader reviews were great but I just couldnt get into it, The author spent so much time on details it seemed thats all the book was, I kept putting it down and would try to pick it up again after 3 days and less then 100 pages read I had to give up. The story was so slow moving and there wasnt really one character that was the main focus of the book. I wouldnt recommend this to anyone that likes a fast read because this definately isnt one.
There are lots of characters in this book, nevertheless, I could not put it down. Dobyns really keeps one drawn in to the story. I read this in one afternoon. Nice surprise ending.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
One by one, three young girls vanish in Aurelius, a small town in upstate New York. With the first disappearance, the townspeople begin to mistrust outsiders. When the second girl goes missing, neighbors and childhood friends start to eye one another warily. And with the third disappearance, the sleepy little town awakens to a full-blown nightmare. In The Church of Dead Girls, Stephen Dobyns probes the ruinous effects of suspicion. No one is immune, not the respected editor of the local paper, nor the demure cashier at the pharmacy, nor even the narrator, a high school biology teacher, observed baking cookies with young girls and helping them with their homework. As the panic mounts and the citizens take the law into their own hands, old rumors, old angers, and old hungers come to the surface to reveal the secret history of this seemingly genteel town and the dark impulses of its inhabitants. Written with an uncanny awareness of the intricacies of human nature, The Church of Dead Girls is both a gripping story about the corrosive effects of fear and a chilling psychological thriller.
This was a really good book.