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The Church of Dead Girls: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – May 15, 2001
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Despite its superficial resemblance to a whodunit, The Church of Dead Girls is not a conventional thriller. Don't expect it to be suspenseful. This is a literary horror tale--slow paced, contemplative, meticulous in its descriptions--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 text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
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.?Michelle Foyt, Fairfield P.L., Ct.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
It got to the point where I was skimming paragraphs just looking for action. The turning of the towns people was interesting to read and Aaron's development was interesting at times, but who was really the pro/antagonist? I know who the last one was but I didn't know anything about him. And, how about spending a little time inside the ominous church that was so artfully crafted? Bummer.
Second, I found the narrative device used by the author to be distracting. I don't want to give anything away, but there were times throughout the story were I thought the narrator's re-creation of dialogue or reactions were unbelievable. I also found some of his friendships unbelievable, even in a small town in the late 1990s.
Lastly, while the final paragraphs are terrific, the final chapters felt rushed and therefore frustrating because a reader spends roughly 400 pages building to the conclusion. I guess I just wanted more.
I don't regret reading it, or buying it, but I can't give it a stellar review.
Because I enjoyed the author, I ordered anothe book written by him. Haven't read it yet, but I'm looking foward to it!
I've long compared it to Albert Camus's THE STRANGER (which also uses an Arab/Algerian) and to Rod Serling's THE MONSTERS ARE DUE ON MAPLE STREET. Indeed, this time around, I noted that Dobyns places the climatic event (of the first half of the novel) that takes place on Halloween on Maple Street, perhaps consciously or unconsciouly in tribute to Rod Serling's story.
I'm still intoxicated by my recent reading of THE CHURCH OF DEAD GIRLS. It expresses the condition of humanity, reminding us once again, of how we so often confuse our sense of retribution with our sense of justice.
Only with the wisdom to distinguish between these paths can we hope to find enlightened redemption, giving and receiving mercy and compassion. Yea, there will always be monsters and wars. We can't change the world, but we each have the power to change ourselves. That's redemption enough.
When reading the novel, you don't realize until late in the book that you have no idea who your narrator truly is. His name is never mentioned, and at times, you wonder if the narrator isn't the one responsible. Is He? No spoiler here, hopefully.
The amount of detail of the characters is overwhelming at times, and you have to really pay attention to what you are reading. There are many wonderfully drawn characters and some real scenes of chilling suspense. While some of the situations and characters may initially appear "over the top," the way Dobyns weaves them into the story is highly commendable.
The book, as good as it is, remains a downer. The ending is totally unexpected, and you have to wonder where the pivotal character is heading. The dark secrets and the way suspicion destroys this town is depressing, to say the least.
As a novel, it is a remarkable work; as entertainment, be warned---it's one of those books that disturb you more than entertain.
Worth a read if you're into cerebral mystery!