Author: Suzanne Zewan
Type of book: New York, Linden murders, 1917-1924, 1985, community, helpful, small town, unsolved mystery, detached narrator, lawyers, crimes
Year it was published: 2017
11-year-old Fritz Reynolds recalled his father telling him that man is the only creature who can find amusement in killing. Little did he realize that those words would become the theme for his teenage years growing up in the rural hamlet of Linden, New York. In this coming-of-age story, Fritz takes us back to a simpler time when neighbors gathered at the general store to listen to radio shows, drank barrel-aged cider, and worshiped at the Baptist church every Sunday. All was picturesque in his close-knit farming community until terror was unleashed on them.
I feel that the only main character in the story is Fritz Reynolds. Other characters, it seems, end up playing a secondary part, and I would guess because there were a lot, it was difficult for me to figure out who's who, although I do recall their roles. (Yes, the book might have benefited from a character list.) Fritz is often a witness to the murders, but it seems as if he recites events and feelings rather than going into depth. (More tell and little showing.) I recall that the town, it can be argued, is seen as a character too because it goes from someone where everyone trusts everyone to a town that many desire to escape before they might be next.
Tragedy can tear a community apart
The story is in first person narrative from Fritz' point of view. It begins in 1917 and lasts until 1924 and then a chapter in 1985. I have to admit that from the mysteries I read, I am used to the characters either acting as detectives or amateur sleuths in trying to solve the mysteries, therefore its a bit jarring to see a character who doesn't act as a detective or a sleuth, but instead the story is focused more on the closeness of the people and how those senseless murders have torn the town apart. I also think that more about Fritz's life from 1924 up until 1985 should have been revealed instead of being secreted away.
AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | INDIEBOUND
About the Author
Suzanne is coordinator at Genesee Valley Educational Partnership and is an adjunct professor at Buffalo State College. She has a M.A. in English and Creative Writing and a M.S.Ed. in Career and Technical Education. Other publications include a poem in Jigsaw (2014), a short story and two poems in Jigsaw (2016), and a short story in Amaranth Review (2016).
For more information, please visit Suzanne Zewan’s website. You can also find Suzanne on Facebook and Twitter.
The story does have a lot of potential within it, including a mystery based on real life Linden New York murders and how much it changes the residents and the town from being close knit to becoming torn away, but I feel that it could have benefited from perhaps moving the epilogue to beginning, and there is also something lacking in the story that I couldn't put my finger on. But aside from that, I actually enjoyed watching how the people and the town were close to one another and how they knew one another, which is a very far cry from today when one doesn't know anything about their next door neighbor.
This is for HFVBT
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4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)