From Publishers Weekly
The author was a Yale student biking cross-country during the summer of 1977 when she and her roommate were attacked by an axe-wielding cowboy while camping in Oregon. Jentz escaped with a gashed arm, while her friend was nearly blinded from head injuries. Fifteen years later, in 1992, Jentz returns to the scene of the attack to repair the psychic wound and attempt to close the case. Dogged in her pursuit of the truth (though largely abandoning the subtitle's promise of introspection), Jentz interviews the witnesses who saw her stumble out of Cline Falls State Park that June night; she scrutinizes police files and discovers the halfhearted investigation of suspects, learning about several horrific killings that took place in Oregon then. Jentz even befriends the former girlfriends of one suspect who becomes frighteningly plausible as the culprit. She finally tracks down the local cowboy known for carving his initials into his axe handle; though he can no longer be prosecuted for the attack, the satisfaction of seeing him convicted for another offense is a bittersweet vindication. While a thorough, forthright detective, screenwriter Jentz tends to meander and includes unnecessary detail. Still, her story is chilling and will enthrall true crime readers. (May)
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Terri Jentz's harrowing story finds voice in Strange Piece of Paradise
, her first book. Critics praise Jentz's courage for returning to the scene of such violence, though several comment that the difficulty of uncovering compelling evidence nearly 30 years later precludes a satisfying conclusion. The book's chronological organization also presents some minor problems, and the book can be plodding at times. Still, the shortcomings do little to mute Jentz's powerful and elegant style, her craft honed by a career as a screenwriter. Critics favorably compare the effort to Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones
, Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song
, and Truman Capote's In Cold Blood
, and they applaud the author's willingness to face her demons.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.