Read The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns Online

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A literary chameleon, Stephen Dobyns is as well known for his poetry as he his for his taut and chilling mysteries. The two disciplines collide in The Church of Dead Girls, a lyrical novel that inspired Stephen King to comment, "If ever there was a tale for a moonless night, a high wind and a creaking floor, this is it ... I don't expect to read a more frightening novel thA literary chameleon, Stephen Dobyns is as well known for his poetry as he his for his taut and chilling mysteries. The two disciplines collide in The Church of Dead Girls, a lyrical novel that inspired Stephen King to comment, "If ever there was a tale for a moonless night, a high wind and a creaking floor, this is it ... I don't expect to read a more frightening novel this year." Aurelius is a drowsy bedroom community in upstate New York that is rocked by a vicious, seemingly random killing. A woman is found murdered in her bed, her left hand missing. Just when the grisly details begin to fade, a young girl vanishes. The only clue: a bag with the girl's washed and folded clothes and a mannequin's left hand. Soon two more girls disappear, and when clues remain elusive, conjecture and rumour take over. The town awakens to a nightmare of suspicion and vigilantism. As the killer spirals in to kill again, the town spins out of control, and The Church of Dead Girls heads to a jolting conclusion. It'll give you goosebumps even if you read it at the beach....

Title : The Church of Dead Girls
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140273915
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 448 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Church of Dead Girls Reviews

  • Trudi
    2018-08-09 11:11

    This is how they looked: three dead girls propped up in three straight chairs.The suspicion didn't just go away. It just slipped back to wherever it hid. Wow. What a meaty and cerebral read -- textured, layered, nuanced. It is a quiet novel that takes its time to carefully contemplate on its subject. And what is its subject? Despite the title, not the disappearance and death of three young girls, not really. Solving the crime, locating the victims, is secondary to the examination of a small town under siege marinating in fear and gripped by suspicion. Dobyns takes a microscopic approach and in rich, solid prose draws a detailed portrait of a townspeople succumbing to the worst of their prejudices and paranoia. It's excruciatingly intimate and painfully honest. At times, I was reminded of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. As with Jackson's novel, Dobyns is able to disturb and unsettle me with his insight into dark hearts and the secrets humans keep. What is that stranger sitting next to us on the bus hiding? Our neighbor? Our friend? Our lover? What impulses lurk behind expressions of devotion and fidelity? What impulses do we see when we look in the mirror? Most of us will never act on them, but they lurk there nevertheless. Waiting, for a crack, for a moment of weakness. I liked how the first person point of view not only kept me in the dark for much of the novel, but kept me off-kilter and suspicious too. Like the town's inhabitants, everyone became a suspect for me as well, including the narrator himself. I did not trust him. I was never able to satisfactorily confirm his reliability. I was on my own, unnerved and watchful, plagued by feelings of dread, outrage, and melancholy.Don't let the sleepy start in a sleepy town fool you. This book has teeth. For me, no one writes the mad psychology of small towns better than Stephen King. Dobyns makes a helluva case though. Fans of Donna Tartt's The Secret History may also enjoy this.

  • Gary
    2018-07-21 09:07

    This book started out building slowly after an end scene intro of the victims. It is basically a psychological thriller with a touch of horror. It was a good read that tugged me along. The author has a good understanding of small town life and mixes humor into the prose surreptitiously. It has a dark, ironic tinge to it that anyone that has spent any time in a rural town will recognize as truth in a tongue and cheek manner. This strength is at times a weakness as his character development tends to go nearly over the top. There are entire pages of info dump in which characters are thoroughly described in a manner inconsistent with the first person perspective. Although I found this tendency distracting at times, the overall plot pulled me through these bland moments and I was, for the most part, grateful for this (other than the characters that seemed to vanish from the plot entirely after meticulous introductions) as the story reached it's climax which quickly became unstoppable. The author knows how to end a story well and that is especially key in a plot that contains this kind of build up. I began to wonder if the resolution would be a let down after the constant character development and ratcheting up of tension, but it definitely was not. The ending satisfies on many levels and surpassed what I expected. This was a good read that kept me up late in order to finish it. 4.5

  • Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)
    2018-08-04 08:53

    This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.The best part of this book was finishing it. Seriously, I was absolutely thrilled to finally be done with this one so that I could move on to something else. I actually almost stopped listening pretty early on in the book because it just wasn't working for me but I made myself continue because I didn't feel like I had given it a chance. The last part of the book was a bit better for me but only a bit. I was ready for an exciting mystery and hoped that it would be creepy and a bit gruesome. Just look at the title - I expected a equally amazing story. This book did start strong and I really enjoyed the opening scene. I wanted to know what happened to those girls. Unfortunately, the book went back to a time before the crimes and was really more of a character study than anything else. I couldn't believe how many characters were brought in the spotlight. We would learn one community members backstory and then move on to the next person's story. It was too many character to keep up with for me. Once the girls had disappeared and the mystery moved into the spotlight, I did enjoy the story a bit more. I think one of my main issues was that all of the characters bored me in this book. I didn't feel anything for any of them - not even the girls. Even when the plot sped up, I didn't really have anything invested in the story. I actually think that this book could easily be made much shorter and the result would be a much more enjoyable story.I didn't realize that I had read anything by Stephen Dobyns before I started this book. I guess I really haven't but I did read about a quarter of Is Fat Bob Dead Yet? before I gave up on it. I think that I had many of the same issues with that book in that I had a really hard time connecting with any of the characters. I did learn that this book was actually first published in the 1990's even though the audiobook was just released. I did enjoy George Newbern's narration. This is the first time that I have listened to this narrator and I was really impressed. He had a very pleasant voice and was able to handle a very large cast of characters quite well. I thought that he did a nice job with both the male and female voices and enjoyed the overall flow of his narration. I will definitely look for this narrator in the future.I wouldn't recommend this book. I was disappointed on so many levels with this story and really regret not following my initial instinct of putting this one on the dnf pile early on. I received a review copy of this audiobook from Dreamscape Media, LLC via Audiobook Jukebox for the purpose of providing an honest review.Initial ThoughtsI am so glad to be finished with this book. I can actually move on to a book that I will like now that I am finally done. I literally had to force myself to listen to this one and if I didn't have a review copy, I would have just quit early in the story.

  • Maciek
    2018-08-07 09:13

    This is an underrated gem of a novel by a little known author.The classic theme of a murder in a small, quiet town has been done in decades by authors of many mysteries and thrillers. Those who approach The Church of Dead Girls with hope of discovering a fast-paced, nailbiting murder mystery will be most likely disappointed, because it's anything but. For all the better.The victims, three dead girls are discovered in the first chapter; the book opens with the conclusion, though the who murdered them and why is not revealed. Dobyns will take his sweet time with introducing the town and its inhabitants, and he is surprisingly good at that. He creates believeable locale, believeable and complex characterization, and makes the whole thing interesting and compelling. He is a surprisingly good writer; after all, he is also a poet, and his prose is a delight to read.The thing that makes The Church of Dead Girls stand out above other similar titles is the narration method. It's easy to use the third person omniscient narrator, and create suspense by narrating the story from different points of view. The novel is narrated in the first person by the school teacher, who is just as puzzled and surprised as the reader; each new occurence affect him just as it affects us. The narrator is not entirely sympathetic, and his character doesn't even play a major role in the novel; he admits to knowing little, and tells the story as he sees it.The really disturbing aspect hits home when the townspeople start to distrust one another. Suspicions arouse, questions are asked, and not everyone is benevolent. The lines begin to blur, prejudices begin to blossom and everyone falls under suspicion - including the narrator.The Church of Dead Girls is carefully structures, deliciously creepy and unpredictable. With it's sheer realism, it's one of the most convincing portrayals of a small town under pressure that I have read. It gets under your skin. It's been almost a year since I've read it, but my thoughts still return to it. Dobyns's powerful writing carefully reveals the dark impulses and secrets that lie in every closet. Delightfully complex, it's worth seeking out, owning, and of course reading.

  • J.K. Grice
    2018-07-23 06:47

    I dare you to find a better thriller in the past 20+ years. Dobyn's creates a frightening masterpiece that is among the best I've ever read. I highly recommend THE CHURCH OF DEAD GIRLS.

  • David H.
    2018-08-14 10:01

    In the past, I would find an author that I liked and then read nothing but their works until I was saturated. These days, I have decided to read as many different authors as possible. I found this paperback in one of my father's bookshelves. I had never heard of Stephen Dobyns, but I am hardly any kind of expert on literature. The Title, " The Church Of Dead Girls" seemed dark and preverse to me (which is my favorite genre). The novel even had an endorsement from Stephen King.. "Very Rich, Very Scary, Very Satisfying". I absolutely adored this novel. The setting is a small village in rural New York state, where everyone lives normal, but somewhat puritan existences. Suddenly, young teenage girls start dissapearing. At first, the residents believe that an outsider has invaded their peaceful community to harm their children. As the police flounder in solving these dissapearences, the citizens turn their focus to each other.I am sure that I will be reading another Stephen Dobyns novel in the future. But not immediately; I don't want to fall back to my old ways.

  • Jim Thomsen
    2018-08-08 05:11

    "The Church Of Dead Girls" is as perfect as it is unusual. Half cerebral literary fiction and half mystery thriller, this book tells the story of a serial killer targeting preteen girls through the eyes of a nameless narrator who serves as the lens and the conscience of a small-town community in upstate New York. Dobyns, who developed his ability to create a community with a cast of intriguing dozens in his "Saratoga" mystery series, broadens his palette even as he narrows its focus — Aurelis, N.Y. is much smaller than Saratoga, but it seems bigger because it introduces us, in remarkable depth over its 432 pages, to more than 40 locals. Many seem innocuous on the surface, and those who appear to be the most outwardly sinister often prove to be anything but. And the breaking points of nearly all are exposed with a strange blend of the narrator's sympathies and empathies. There are some great ones. Aaron McNeal, who left town after his mother was murdered a few years before, returns with a murky agenda and immediately sets most Aurelians on edge. Barry Sanders, a gay albino known to all as "Little Pink," and Harriet Malcomb, a silent but seemingly corrosive young woman, become his curious recruits in an undeclared war. Ryan Tavish is the bewildered town cop with secrets of his own, and his best friend is newspaper editor Franklin Moore, a man who drowns his own deadly sorrows in his role as the community's unwanted mirror. I could easily list a few dozen more.Even as these characters are developed, all under the benign but watchful eye of the narrator, more girls disappear. More people snap. More people take on authority with more bluster than competence. More people are needlessly destroyed. A once pleasant, even sleepy community threatens to collapse needlessly under the weight of malignant paranoia and suspicion. And that breaking point finally flushes the killer out into the open in a way that makes the entire town his accomplice and jury in the same strange surging final moments of this stunning story. I pretty much see "The Church Of Dead Girls" as Booklist did: "Methodically peeling back the veneer of civic pride and community harmony that holds the town together, Dobyns reveals the dark impulses and tangled relationships that lie underneath. He's not as interested in the pathology of the serial killer in their midst as he is in the pathology that exists within us all. An unusually thoughtful psychological thriller."It's one of my favorite novels ever, one that grows richer and more rewarding with repeated readings.

  • Rachel
    2018-07-25 06:53

    A dreadful and startingly realistic portrait of how a small town deals with the disappearance of three young girls. It explores hysteria, scapegoating, and how all of us have secrets. The prologue and the ending were bone chilling and everything in between was written so well - I felt like I was there. This was a great horrific mystery that totally crawled under my skin and gave me pause. so good!

  • Lobstergirl
    2018-07-23 06:05

    If you can semi-ignore the 180 minor characters and just concentrate on the 60 major ones, you'll have a much easier time reading this intelligent horror novel. Also, accept the fact that the novel will unfold very slowly.In a small town in upstate New York, a middle-aged woman who happens to be the town slut is murdered and her left hand cut off. Over the following months, three young girls, ages 14 and 13, are abducted. We find out in the novel's opening flash-forward scene that they have been killed, set on chairs in an attic, and their left hands cut off too. At this point we don't know their identities. The girls' disappearances cause the town to erupt in a frenzy of distress, panic, paranoia, and vigilantism. A young gay albino man is bullied mercilessly. An Algerian Marxist college professor is hounded for no good reason and (view spoiler)[killed with a baseball bat by drunk, ignorant bullies (hide spoiler)]. Another gay man is murdered. A large group of volunteers set up shop to try to find the missing girls, interviewing town residents they find suspicious and instituting car patrols on the town's streets. The way in which the members of this group intimidate, harass, and scapegoat becomes just as alarming and frightening as the actual crimes, in a manner reminiscent of Shirley Jackson. This is a very unique horror novel, made especially so by its first person narrator, a male high school biology teacher who goes unnamed. Its lesson, that fear and ignorance are dangerously corrosive, ought to be applied to situations even where girls are not being abducted and hands being cut off.

  • Matthew Iden
    2018-07-20 10:09

    This review of The Church of Dead Girls is a moderately long analysis I did on the book in an attempt to get at why I liked it so much as a reader and how I could emulate the parts that worked as a writer. As a result, what follows might be a little dry for some readers, since I'm reviewing from an author's perspective. And it's chock full of spoilers. But that shouldn't keep you from running out and grabbing a copy of this imminently creepy, thoughtful, and suspenseful tour de force. If you do, come back and see if you agree with my thoughts.BTW, I highly recommend reading it as close to Halloween as possible. :) (view spoiler)[SummaryThe Church is a crime fiction/thriller/whodunit set in upstate New York in the fictitious? town of Aurelius. Three teenage girls and two adults are killed in classic serial killer fashion, throwing the town into a state of chaos and fear. Reminiscent of Twin Peaks, but without the zany antics and humor.ThemesThe story tracks the actual events of the murders, of course, but the book is more a treatise of the evils inside rather than the covert evil of the actual killer: how do we treat one another, what do we suspect of each other, when someone starts breaking the accepted rules of civilization? And what evils are we hiding from each other and to what degree do those evils run (from vandalism to promiscuity and infidelity to racism and homophobia/bias to hatred to murder committed in the most heinous fashion)?StyleThe single most significant thing about the style of the book--and maybe just the book itself--is that the P.O.V. is first person (“authorial omniscient”), yet the story is told from a naturally limited third person style most of the time. This is a daring and difficult use of P.O.V. on Dobyns's part, but pulled off with grace.* The four modes are:1. Regular first person as the narrator either talks about himself or describes events that he actually witnessed or participated in.2. Flashbacks as told to the narrator by another character so as to widen the scope and allow the narrator to impart story that he wouldn't otherwise be able to (“Ryan told me later that...”).3. Deeper flashbacks (e.g., Franklin's interview with Donald Malloy near the end in complete dialog).4. Standard, limited third-person with no real acknowledgment or reasoning; it just is and the reader goes along with it at that point...kind of like Dobyns is dispensing with the props of #2 or #3, above.The reason for the P.O.V., and why it's so devious yet necessary, is that the narrator is himself a suspect until the last 40 pages of the book. From the very beginning, we have doubts about the narrator and Dobyns (purposefully, of course) plants red herrings all over the place suggesting, but never demanding, that we choose the narrator as the killer. This is the “unreliable narrator” taken to extremes, but done effectively. It works especially well in a modern literary context because we have the 20th/21st century's familiarity with the “gentleman serial killer”, i.e., an educated and otherwise rational person given to obscene behavior, a person that can diagnose themselves and/or otherwise recognize that they are a monster and articulate it well (e.g. Hannibal Lecter). This isn't something that an early 20th century (or earlier) audience would be able to recognize or read, but a modern reader has no issue with (potentially) listening to a first-person account of a serial killer's actions.Secondarily, it's a perfect vehicle to impart the moral message of the book, as well: a town being torn apart at the seams because of its hidden corruptions. The narrator can reveal what he thinks of his neighbors, colleagues, and friends (rightly or wrongly); how he remembers the town in a more golden era (the 50's and 60's); the perversion of children (his students) into ignorant and violent or prejudiced adults. A distant third person narration wouldn't have been able to do justice to this second but arguably more important subject.The theme of “who knows the evil in men's hearts” is capped by the narrator stealing Donald's hand at the end. It's creepy, outlandish, but he does it for the best of reasons: to be reminded of the lesson of Donald's inner corruption.* First pointed out in Fiction: The Art and Craft of Writing and Getting Published by Michael Seidman, pg. 139-140.Issues1. Many, many characters and relationships to keep track of. This is a necessary evil, as Dobyns wants us to know the town like our own and the people in it. Life is messy and complicated; this book can't be otherwise. But that doesn't keep it from becoming difficult for some readers (these complaints seen on Amazon's reviews).2. Revealing the killer 40 pages from the end took the sting out of the discovery. How else to do it? Perhaps a quick unveiling, then more on the retrospect end (since you can't leave the reader hanging with “What?! It was the pharmacist? Holy crap!”, you have some explaining to do). But Dobyns drags out the chapter from the discovery of Donald Malloy to the end, THEN does retrospect.3. Other Amazon reviews complained of the slow pace. This might be inevitable for a story like this. Pace is what sets the tension.Miscellaneous1. We never know the narrator's name.2. We never find out the unfortunate things that happened to the narrator in New York City.3. Latent political commentary with the IIR (Communist reading group) being the focus of so much of the (assumed) right-wing/conservative community.Quotes1. Frightening description of being alone in a house:Imagine being alone in a house at night and hearing a noise, a floorboard creaking or a window sliding up. The mind at once interprets what it might be: something benign like wind or the house resettling or something wicked. You wait for another sound. You hear the furnace click on, the humming of a light, a clock ticking. Lists of alternatives roll through your mind. If you feel guilty or scared, maybe, you fear the worst. If you feel content and live in a place you think is safe (but what is safe?), you might return to your book. Then comes another noise.2. Verisimilitude, we've all done this:Sheila had both hands on the bar, leaning towards Ryan. He was turning his stool slightly to the left, then to the right. There was something almost childlike about it.3. In general, Dobyns's excellent descriptions of the quiet of falling and fallen snow, the ambiance of mid- to late autumn in a northern town, Halloween in a traditional American way, the catalog of a typical small American town. (hide spoiler)]

  • Karyl
    2018-07-24 03:14

    After three girls go missing from a small upstate New York town, the town is ripped apart from the effects of suspicion. Where are the girls? Who has abducted them? Are they still alive? Who should be suspected and why?It's been said that this book is more about the effects of these horrible events on the small town, and less about the murders of the girls. I have to agree with that assessment, but I don't think it was the best choice on the part of the author. I didn't find this book particularly creepy or even interesting, except in snippets, until about thirty pages from the end. For me, there was far too much setting detail, down to who was related to whom, and where they worked, and what role they played in the town, even for the most minor of characters that are never mentioned again. Because of the great attention to detail in setting the scene, the book moves along at a snail's pace. The first abduction doesn't even occur until a quarter of the way through the book; the first 110 pages are taken up with describing the town, and the members of a particular club at the college that will later come under suspicion. Interpersonal relationships are described, along with the discord that is already present before the abductions had wreaked their toll on the town. I had a hard time even relating to the narrator of the story. For one thing, I'm not even sure we find out his name. And for some reason, it's written from a first-person viewpoint yet most of the events occur in the third person. The narrator is a teacher at the high school, so it's not like he would have insider information like the publisher of the local newspaper would have, and the fact that he's discussing all these events which he shouldn't have known about tended to rankle with me as I read the book. There is, throughout the book, discussion of who in the town is gay. That was another point that really bothered me because I couldn't really see how gay men would be suspected in the abduction of small girls, except that by being gay, they are different, and therefore subject to suspicion. But that whole theory wasn't ever really fleshed out, so there was this subject of "GAY" just sort of hanging there on the side. It made the book flow even worse, in my opinion.The last thirty pages, however, were quite interesting and made me want to keep reading and turning pages. I wanted to figure out WHO had done these awful things and why, and the way in which the guilty party was apprehended was pretty dramatic. I read the first twenty pages of the end last night before bed, and it was enough to give my sleep-deprived nightmares, but I have to say, it's not worth the 330 pages of slow-moving detail to get to these last thirty pages. The end almost made me angry because it's clear that the author can write exciting prose, yet he chose to bog it down in 330 pages of dreck. What a shame.

  • Lou
    2018-07-25 07:05

    This novel is ok but i anticipated more from reading King`s comments its a slow moving story more a cerebal mystery. One by one, three teenage girls are abducted from a small American town. The only trace of them is their clothes returned, washed, ironed and neatly folded. With each disappearance suspicion spreads among the townsfolk,initially falling on anyone 'different' the college Marxist group, the gay community but soon extending to friends and neighbours, even the narrator himself. As panic grips the town, repressed desires, old angers and violent impulses rise to the surface, tearing the community apart to reveal the horrific darkness at its heart.

  • Erika
    2018-07-27 05:57

    If you don't mind sorting through a million different characters, this is a gem of a read. This is the beginning:"This is how they looked: three dead girls propped up in three straight chairs."The pacing is slow, and it kind of builds and builds until the discovery maybe isn't quite as important as discovering how small town mentality bent on justice is just as deadly - anywhere.

  • Asghar Abbas
    2018-08-06 09:58

    A truly chilling and hypnotic book. A literary thriller that deals with aftershocks of horrific events in a small town, very Stephen Kingy that way. An unique prose and a nameless narrator made it an interesting read.

  • Michele
    2018-07-26 07:49

    Not so much a genre mystery as an exploration of the damage that suspicion and fear can wreak on a community, in the manner of The Crucible or the classic Twilight Zone episode, The Monsters are Due on Maple Street. The characters are well-drawn and the writing adept (I was not surprised to discover that Dobyns is also a poet), while the narrator -- an outsider in more ways than one -- is an interesting choice on the author's part that adds a somewhat unsettling sense of objectivity and distance to the events that unfold. The eventual revelation of the murderer is almost a sidebar to the main event: the psychological deterioration of the residents of the town. A good enough read that I plan to try another of Dobyns' books.Oh, and also a dog dies. Damn it.

  • Brian Hodges
    2018-07-29 02:53

    This book started off amazingly. It's all about how a string of murders rips a small town apart as everyone begins accusing the wrong people. As the product of a small town I could totally see the people I knew growing up in this exact setting. Unfortunately it fell off toward the end simply because the revelation of the actual killer was never going to live up to all the intrigue and suspense that had been built up over the course of the book.

  • Helen
    2018-08-12 03:13

    Very slowly and deliberately paced, certainly not scary in the more usual 'horror' sense. I found the illustration of how suspicion tears a community apart and insidiously ruins previously long-standing friendships more moving than the actual crimes (though these are indeed creepy) Very well-described characters, and I didn't guess the murderer until the very end.

  • Kelley Tackett
    2018-08-18 06:00

    I am ambivalent about this book. The book tells you the mystery right off the bat and you have to work towards that place again. I have never had so many characters introduced in a book. It was set in a small town and the narrator (you never learn his name, only that he's a gay man that teaches biology at the local school) felt the need to introduce lots of people and give you their whole backstory. Dobyns is a good writer. I would like to read more of his books but I wouldn't recommend starting with this one.

  • Catarina
    2018-08-07 04:02

    Um livro soberbo! Nunca esquecerei Aurelius nem os seus habitantes com as suas muitas peculiaridades. De ressalvar a escrita do autor, o livro é bastante descritivo, o que poderia fazer com que se tornasse maçudo mas não é o caso, o autor tem efectivamente o dom da escrita e leva-nos a querer saber tudo e mais alguma coisa, de modo que nos embrenhamos na história e quando cheguei ao fim senti que era capaz de ler outras 450 páginas. Recomendadíssimo, 5 estrelas mais do que merecidas!

  • Angel Elizabeth
    2018-07-21 09:08

    Some of the writing was good, but overall, I felt like it moved at a glacial pace and spent time judging people through the lens of an unreliable narrator. Might revisit at a later date.

  • Bandit
    2018-08-14 03:02

    As I was reading this book, I kept thinking this was a five star read. The writing style is so great, rich, detailed, truly immersing...this really is a literary novel with a mystery undercurrent. And, as far as the mystery aspect of it goes, I didn't figure out the killer till the very end. However, upon reading the whole book and pondering it for a few days, I subtracted two stars from my original estimate based on two things. #1 - despite a menagerie of well drawn out characters, there are no likable ones and that is something I would appreciate in a novel, especially one of this size and density.#2 - MINOR SPOILER I didn't appreciate the rampant homophobia throughout the book, clearly the town folk have singled out gays with other "different" members of their society, that aspect of it I understood, and all the gays are suspected of having pedophilic tendencies, also "reasonable" as far as the ugly cliches go, gay males kidnapping young girls seems a stretch even for a small close minded community. Still, that wouldn't have been so bad, if the author himself didn't sound just like the town folk during the last chapter, while talking about some of the hidden thoughts of the narrator.SPOILER ENDI've discussed this with a friend who's read the book and I've also read numerous reviews and I can see that this was not a problem for many readers, but it bothered me enough to distract me from the plot, which is why my finally review is three stars, despite an exceptional writing and marvelous attention to detail by the author.

  • Eric_W
    2018-07-19 05:45

    Dobyns is better known, perhaps, for his wonderful and hilarious “Saratoga” mystery series featuring private eye Charlie Bradshaw. This is more serious in its implications and genre. A promiscuous woman is murdered, mother of Aaron McNeal, a troubled youth, who is involved with the IIR, Investigations Into the Right, a reading group formed by a new professor at Aurelius College, in the small town of Aurelius. The professor immediately alienates himself from the community by driving a red Citroen and teaching a form of modern Marxism. His greater sin is getting the students in the IIR to begin to question authority and the local power structure. When three girls disappear one at a time, suspicion falls on the members of the IIR. When the girls are discovered, in an attic shrine, tied to chairs, each with her left hand cut off, the community erupts into spasms of fear that becomes an epidemic sweeping through the small town where everyone knows everyone else and everyone else’s business. Soon the support group that had been formed to help the families of the missing girls becomes a vigilante patrol that turns the town into a state of paranoid panic. Everyone becomes a mon ster, rumors feed the frenzy, and anyone who had anything to do with the girls becomes part of the nightmare. It’s a great story with a worthy lesson and the solution to the puzzle is fitting.

  • Bojana
    2018-07-30 08:09

    A very, very satisfying read. A tense thriller exploring the human nature in a time of crisis, specifically human nature in small communities. Little girls start to disappear in the small town of Aurelius, and soon after, all eyes are on the more peculiar townies. First, the gay, the single, the foreign man get singled out, than, as things get more desperate, everyone becomes a suspect. No ones secrets are safe, and since there is a dark side to the best of us, the towns dirty laundry soon comes floating up.Even after the culprit is gone, and the girls put to rest, the suspicions don't die out. There is no monument large enough, no mourning long enough that could keep them down. The suspicion didn't just go away. It just slipped back to wherever it hid. I had the feeling it would stay with us always, as if we would never be able to look at one another again except through its filter, a colored lens of suspicion.Still, sometimes it is better to remember. There are longings inside of us that are more dangerous when kept out of sight, parts of us that are better off surgically removed and put in a jar of formaldehyde.

  • Nora|KnyguDama
    2018-08-05 09:45

    Dauguma žmonių turi itin didelę aistrą kinui. Kas vakarą žiūri filmus, seka aktorių gyvenimus, neįsivaizduoja savo gyvenimo be kino teatrų. Na tikriausiai nieko nenustebinsiu pasakydama , jog didžiausia mano aistra yra literatūra. Na, bet ir kinui nesu abejinga. Tačiau man žymiai labiau patinka žiūrėti serialus. Čia mano arkliukas. Net negalėčiau įvardinti kiek jų nuo pradžios iki galo esu peržiūrėjusi... Bet galėčiau įvardinti vieną, palikusi man didžiausią įspūdį. Be abejonės, visi laurai tenka legendiniam „Tvin pyksui“. Tai mano favoritas. Viskas jame nuo pradžios iki galo unikalu. Tiek pats siužetas, tiek jo vingiai, David Lynch kaip asmenybė, serialo kūrimo peripetijos. Viską ką įmanoma žinoti apie „Tvin pyksą“ – aš žinau. Nenuostabu, juk esu tikra siaubo, kaip žanro aistruolė. Tad kaskart, kai pamatau anotacijoje knygos lyginimą su šiuo serialu – aš pasiduodu. Ši knyga užsitikrina garantiją keliauti pas mane namo ir būti perskaityta. Žinau, tas lyginimas gali būti tik pigus dėmesio medžiojimas, bet aš nieko sau padaryti negaliu... Neseniai aptašiau Truman Capote romaną „Kiti balsai, kiti kambariai“, jis buvo lyginamas su mano serialu, bet tų panašumų ten buvo tiek pat kiek vandenynų Saharoj. Na, o šį kartą anotacija manęs neapgavo! Skaitydama “Mirusių mergaičių šventklą” tikrai pasijutau lyg tame mistiškame miestelyje.Kuo jie panašūs, ogi visų pirma tuo, jog tiek seriale, tiek romene veikėjų galybė. “Tvin pykse ” visa istorija sukasi apie rastą nužudytą merginą, o knygoje nužudytos net trys paauglės. Nuo to ji ir prasideda, Randamos trys merginos, surištos kėdese su nukirstom kairiojom plaštakom. Visas miestelis sukrėstas. Toks būtų oirmas skyrius. PO jo seka priešistorė, kai visos mergaitės dar gyvos. Viskas vyksta nedideliame Orilijaus miestelyje. Jame viskas ramu, visi vieni kitus pažįsta. Orilijuje yra net universitetas, į kurį dėstyti atvažiuoja neaiškus alžyrietis. Itin kategoriškų pažiūrį, Markso filosofiją dievinantis vyras mieste sukelia nepasitenkinimo audrą. Ypač po to, kai suburbia student būrelį. Jame jie skaito filosofinius veikalus, diskutuoja. Bėda ta, kad būrelio nariai – studentai linkę į vandalizmą ir išsišokimu. Tad nenuostabu, jog dingus pirmąjąi mergaitei, policijos dėmesys nukrypsta į jaunuosius maištautojus ir jų mokytoją. Juolab, kad prie būrelio veiklos prisideda ir į miestą sugrįžęs, keršto išrokęs Dženis sūnus, Dženis buvo nužudyta prieš daug metų, o nusikaltėlis nerastas. Įtariamųjų buvo daug, mat Dženis buvo pagarsėjusi kaip nimfomanė, bei vyrų medžiotoja. Kaip ir sakiau, man tai buvo visiškas “Tvin pyksas”. Akivaizdu iš kur Stephen Dobyns sėmėsi įkvėpimo. Visą laiką skaitant neapleido ta mistiška, paslaptinga nuotaika. Tai buvo kartu ir detektyvas ir siaubą varantis pasakojimas. Nebuvo čia nei zombių, nei pabaisų – žmogiški nusikaltimai ir jų žiaurumas kėlė šiurpinančias emocijas. Nuotaiką autoriui tikrai payko sukurti. Taip pat ši knyga man buvo itin King’iška, jei leisite man pavartoti tokį žodį. Tikriau sakant – priminė Stephen King’o kūrybą. Neveltui šis autorius apie “Mirusių mergaičių šventyklą” atsiliepė itin teigiamai. Žodžiu, visiems kam patinka King’as, “Tvin pyksas”, keisti detektyvai su siaubo detalėmis ar mistika, painūs veikėjų ryšiai, kas nebijo skaityti knygų su BE – GA – LE veikėjų – pirmyn!

  • Mo
    2018-08-04 04:12

    I would classify this novel as a psychological murder mystery, which is normally not my preferred genre. I do not enjoy being scared, nor do I like exploring too deeply the “dark” side of life. I refused to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo at the movies because I was having a hard enough time getting the pictures out of my head just from having read the book.I almost stopped reading this book after the first chapter.I found the first chapter to be gruesomely detailed, but (lucky for me) the entire book was not similarly written. It became more of a character study of several small town inhabitants, many of whom would ultimately become suspects. Yes, murder and suspense play important roles, but I thought they were handled rather “gently” for the most part. You were not hit over the head with disturbing images every 5th page or so!The story was fascinating at times, and always compelling. It is a testament to the novel that I did not interrupt my reading to play Words With Friends, even though my phone was buzzing like crazy notifying me that it was my turn to play! I also very much enjoyed all the many references to places that are local to me. Wegmans gets mentioned several times, as does Rochester, Utica, Syracuse, the Finger Lakes, Spencerport, etc.There were a few negatives for me. Several of my questions were never answered to my satisfaction. I also found the ending to be disturbing, although not in the way you may suppose. You’ll have to read the book yourself to see if you agree with me. I’m glad I didn’t stop reading after the first chapter!

  • Joyce
    2018-08-08 05:47

    I had read--or perhaps listened to--this book when it first came out in 1997. When I saw a new recording, I was glad to reread it. Unfortunately, I had confused it in my memory with A Maiden's Grave from 1995, Jeffrey Deaver's last standalone before he embarked on the Lincoln Rhyme series. That's a hostage situation with a lot more going on, so I was a little disappointed, but this is a good read/listen of a different sort. There's a crime here in a small upstate New York town: 3 girls have gone missing. We know from the prologue that they are dead and gruesomely preserved. The book is tangentially about the investigation but it's really about what happens in the small town when fear and paranoia take over. Dobyns is a poet as well as a novelist and mystery writer, so the language is lovely, the pacing measured, the 7th grade science teacher protagonist interesting. (And since I didn't remember who-dun-it, I wondered whether it might be he. Have I perhaps read too many books with an unreliable narrator?) A strong sense of foreboding is evident from the first pages. Interesting but a little slow for a long car ride.

  • Annet
    2018-08-16 07:15

    While reading it: Had this book in my collection for years now. Took it on several holidays, never got round to reading it. Maybe because the book's pages are crammed with text, not really easy to read at first sight. having'read the reviews here, all of the sudden I got a sense to read this one now. Now at page 59, I really like the story and the way the story is told by the storyteller. The story is intriguing, how will this end? Read it: Wow what a story! story incredibly well written about a mystery concerning the disappearance of three young girls in a small town and how a community takes matters and justice in their own hands and how that has catastrophic consequences. Brilliantly told through the eyes of a teacher who we get to know more and more as the story moves on. Sorry I left this book on my shelf so long, it's suspenseful, mysterious, entertaining, and the ending is really great. Great writer. Great story. Four stars easily.

  • Lisa James
    2018-08-13 09:12

    This book is one I am glad I took a chance on, even though the librarian herself never finished it, LOL. This story takes place in a small town in upstate NY, where things are supposed to be safer than in the big city, Well, every small town has it's secrets, & this one is no exception. Told through the eyes of a high school teacher who's name we never know, this is a riveting murder mystery that is not nearly as straight forward as it seems. It makes you think, & no one is above suspicion. The twists in this book just keep on coming, with a few recurring themes throughout the book. VERY well done, & not JUST a murder mystery, it resonates of Stephen King, with shades of Dean Koontz thrown in as well. At the end, the culprit is someone you never even anticipate, which throws you for a huge loop, & the guys portrayed as the bad guys throughout the rest of the book turn out to be not so bad after all.

  • Roxana
    2018-08-16 05:53

    "Life is a Mascarade, who is behind the mask?"... that song from Bend Folds and Josh Groban fits perfectly with the story narrated in this book. Speaking of narration, at first, the way the story is presented, made me think of Truman Capote's "In cold blood". Is ok, the teller might not be a journalist but he is a privileged witness of the story. This is a small town, where everybody knows eachother, the question is, do they really know eachother? When the first girl disappears, all the people in town wants to believe that the perpetrator is an outsider, but then another gilr is kidnapped and the evidence shows that he or she lives among the common people in the city. Everybody is afraid of everybody and everyone suspect from the neighbour. Fear takes over town and allows and even justify the unthinkable. I totally recomend this book for the mistery lovers, is a non stop reading book!

  • Esme
    2018-07-31 09:56

    In dem Psychothriller "The Church of Dead Girls" ("Die Kirche der toten Mädchen") geht es um die Auswirkungen des Verschwindens von drei Mädchen auf das Leben in einer beliebigen amerikanischen Kleinstadt. Es entsteht eine Atmosphäre von Misstrauen und Angst, keiner ist vor den Verdächtigungen, der Täter zu sein, gefeit.Was verbirgt der Nachbar hinter seiner öffentlich sichtbaren Fassade? Welche Geheimnisse lauern im Verborgenen?Das eigene Verhalten (des Ich-Erzählers) wird vorsichtiger, er wägt ab, was er sagt und tut, um nicht auch noch in Verdacht zu geraten.Die dabei entstehende Spannung ist eine, die implodiert und die simple Frage "Wer wars?" in den Hintergrund drängt.Ein Roman, der die Untiefen der menschlichen Schwächen und Verhaltensweisen auslotet und damit zu überzeugen vermag.