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Gumbywan

Randolph "Dilda" Carter

A rant about books, horror, and the weird.  I sometimes take on my love/hate relationship with goodreads and Amazon.

Currently reading

Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories
Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, William Shatner
Progress: 140/336 pages
Pavane
Keith Roberts
Secret Strangers - Thomas Tessier

Even though I gave this five stars it is not my favorite Tessier novel. It probably comes 3rd on my list after Fog Heart and Finishing Touches. It's just a really well scripted murder mystery thriller on top of being a great novel.

What if you found out your dad was Adolph Hitler?

This isn't horror, it is a straight forward crime-suspense thriller. The best description (really) would be a (very) hard boiled Nancy Drew mystery. No kidding. It is full of the quirky little oddities that makes Tessier's books so unique. 17-year old Heidi Luckner is just an average rising high school senior with above average looks. She likes the Smiths and hanging out with a few friends. She doesn't plan to go to college. Her Dad has just run out on the family leaving them destitute in the middle of a posh New York suburb. Heidi hates her life but she's basically a good kid and has a good head on her shoulders. When she finds her personal Pandora's Box and opens it her dull and hated life is going to get way more exciting than she ever imagined it would be or wanted it to be.

The book is hard to review without giving something away and you don't want it spoiled, trust me, but I'll give you what I can. Tessier's prose is strictly straight forward. No dictionary required here. No similes or metaphors just straight on writing. It almost seems too simple at times, like a school primer. The plot is terribly convoluted but does make sense and is very well crafted in a murder-mystery way. There is a lot of graphic sex and violence (we all love that). I made a list of the crimes committed: murder, kidnapping, suicide, burglary, blackmail, pedophilia, rape, child pornography, and torture, piles of each. If you can't take some of it graphic, stay away. Heidi's little prank to get even with her well to do neighbors that she secretly despises, but never really did anything to her, starts the ball rolling and Heidi's chained to it all the way down the mountain.

Tessier likes to do this kind of book where the main characters start with some little sin and inadvertently end up way over their heads with the way life really is, not just the facade we see. In this one Heidi makes one or two little errors in judgment that start the whole thing going, but once she tries to step back from the precipice and fix her errors there is nowhere to go but down in order to ever hope to go up. The novel reminded me a lot of the movie Blue Velvet where the seemingly pristine and bucolic life we see in a small town is really every bit as worm riddled as life is in the big bad city.

It was a page turner for me after about the first 75 pages. I think it is one of Tessier's better novels not prone to some of his weaknesses.