“He stopped once I pulled out my tape recorder and asked about the murders. Then it was those whirling wheels that had his full attention. People got such a charge from seeing their names in print. Proof of existence. I could picture a squabble of ghosts ripping through piles of newspapers. Pointing at a name on the page. See, there I am. I told you I lived. I told you I was.“
Camille Preaker works as a newspaper reporter for The Daily Post in Aurora Springs, Chicago; the city’s red-headed step-child of daily print media. Camille has seen her career take an upward trajectory as she covers more grizzly murders and fatal family disputes. They’re either loving her work or trying to rid themselves of her in a ruthless way. Whatever it is as long as the money’s right, it is all good for Camille. On one normal day, whatever normal means anymore, she is called into her editor Frank Curry’s office where she is assigned as the primary reporter for a recent abduction/murder case of a ten year old child in Camille’s home town of Wind Gap, Missouri. Frank views it as an opportunity for her to recharge her batteries by resting and relaxing while covering a Pop. 2120 story. She doesn’t see it the way he does, but she decides not to fight the assignment. It has been eight years since Camille has been back home, but what she can remember is that Wind Gap was a city where everyone knew each other’s secrets and will use them for their own advantage, a city prone to misery, and a city where Camille didn’t need an extended stay. Get in, get out, as fast as she could.
“I felt no particular allegiance to the town. This was the place my sister died, the place I started cutting myself. A town so suffocating and small, you tripped over people you hated every day. People who knew things about you. It’s the kind of place that leaves a mark.”
Wind Gap, Missouri employs a five person police force and as one dead child turns into two, putting the natives on edge they quickly realize that they are ill-equipped for the situation and need some outside support. Back home Camille is not receiving any gas, food, or lodging expense from the paper, she has no per diem or expense account, she has to stay with her mother and all that that entails. Overbearing and controlling mother Adora, her subservient step-father Alan, and her precocious thirteen-year-old half-sister Amma are the modern family or in Camille’s mind family #2. Cammie has never understood her mother’s crippling neuroses which include but not limited to the following: hypochondria, piteous nature, her haunting past, and her overreaction for common problems. Adora would go to the doctor for a paper cut, to Adora grieving was an addiction that she couldn’t quell. On the other hand Adora never understood Camille’s disobedience, her wilful, wild, smug, stubborn, and hateful manner. She felt that Camille had a penchant for ugliness that afflicted the rest of the family. Alan always questioned why Camille continued to torment her loving mother, Camille couldn’t believe how Alan could be so blind. As you can see, there is a sizeable disconnect within the Preaker family that’s going to a take a little more than a trip to Dave & Buster’s to figure out. This story is a commentary of big city vs. small town living and family dynamics, where when it comes to a person’s presentation there’s more than meets the eye.
“Natalie was buried in the family plot, next to a gravestone that already bore her parents names. I know the wisdom, that no parents should see their child die, that such an event is like nature spun backward. But it’s the only way to truly keep your child. Kids grow up, their forge more potent allegiances. They find a spouse or a lover. They will not be buried with you. The Keenes, however, will remain the purest form of family. Underground.”
There is something about the author’s writing style and development of characters that really endear me to her but also pisses me off. In one sense her characters, especially her female leads, on the surface have a very strong disposition, a sense of self, as well as a heightened awareness of others. In the same breath her characters have a holier than thou, elitist point of view. The woman are typically not the stock characters that you would find in most novels in this genre. For the most part they are strong-willed and give the perception that they don’t need protection from outside dangers, when you get to understand them a little better you realize that they have their vulnerabilities and for the most part are their own worst enemy. Maybe it’s a case of my own latent “white knight complex” coming to the fore, but I would like the characters to be a tad less hardened… just a tad. I also like the author’s ability to tell it like it is with her take no prisoners approach. She often has me giggling to myself with a nefarious chuckle at things I probably shouldn’t be amused by, but I am shocked and grateful that she unapologetically went there. If you enjoy a cat and mouse game that resembles Itchy and Scratchy-esque like violence and are a fan of Gillian Flynn I would recommend this novel.
” ‘Winter. No one likes winter.’
‘It gets dark early, I like that.’
Because that means the day has ended. I like checking days off a calendar – 151 days crossed and nothing truly horrible has happened. 152 and the world isn’t ruined. 153 and I haven’t destroyed anyone. 154 and no one really hates me. Sometimes I think I won’t ever feel safe until I can count my last days on one hand. Three more days to get through until I don’t have to worry about life anymore.
‘I just like the night.’ “