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.
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
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!