4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Somewhat misleading title to a great book,
This review is from: The Church of Dead Girls: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
By the mere title alone it would seem that this book is just another unimaginative, psycho/slasher thriller. Dobyns however takes an ordinary "search for the missing girls" type story and turns it into a revealing and somewhat dark look at human nature.
When young girls begin disappearing from a small, upstate New York town the residents become overwhelmed with the urgency to catch the culprit before he/she strikes again. Narrated by a local biology teacher, the story weaves a finger-pointing tale of how in the hysteria of a crisis, people throw all rational and lucid thoughts aside. Mere suspicion eventually overrides facts and everyone at one point or another becomes suspect. It shows how people need to have a scapegoat in which to focus their own uncertainties. Houari Chihani first becomes this scapegoat when he acquires a postion as a history teacher at the local college. Some of his students form a small club and begin learning Marxism and other ways of thinking about society. Because this rationale is so different from the town's way of thinking they quickly become suspects to the disappearances. However, as time goes on everyone's past actions and acquaintances come into play no matter how trivial they may seem.
I didn't find this book to be a thriller in the sense of being overly scary or gory but more along the lines of a very good suspense novel. Dobyns intricately weaves the storyline between characters and events so well that at times you wonder how he can make the connections in a reasonable way but he does.
If you've ever lived in Small Town, USA you will notice how the gossip that is generated soon takes on a life of its own. To quote Dobyns, "And once that sort of talk begins, truth or falsehood means nothing. Talk has its own momentum."