(If you missed the introduction to my “Musings”, you can read it here.)
Today’s topic is: “Write a review of your favorite mystery book or movie.”
On the third Thursday of every month, I attend a book club discussion at the local public library. This month’s book was Ordinary Grace by fellow Minnesota-author, William Kent Krueger. In the past, I had read one other book by this author (Iron Lake) and very much enjoyed the action, suspense, and excellent character development (plus the villain got his comeuppance, so all was right with the world in the end).
Usually, I’m not a huge fan of mysteries. I always get emotionally involved in whatever I read, so mysteries make me worry about my safety in the middle of my living room (even though it is highly improbable for a serial killer to be standing outside my window, here in the middle of nowhere). But Ordinary Grace was more of a suspense than a thriller. In fact, while reading, I was often reminded of one of my all-time favorite movies, Stand By Me.
Check out these similarities…
~ Both are narrated by a middle-aged man, recalling a particularly memorable summer of his youth (set in 1961 and 1959, respectively).
~ Both begin with the death of a young boy, killed by a train, outside a small town.
~ Both have bullies that make you cringe, but they also make you stand up and cheer when the underdog finally defeats them.
I don’t think I can say that Ordinary Grace is my absolute favorite mystery book. It would be hard to bump Patricia Cornwell’s maple-syrup-smelling-murderer (Postmortem) from the deep recesses of my mind, although for years I’ve tried. And I’m always a fan of classics like Agatha Christie (Murder on the Orient Express) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. That said, I very much enjoyed reading this book. I cried a bunch (after all, I was emotionally involved and there was a great deal of death involved) and found myself yelling to the young boy about where the real dangers were hidden. Throughout the telling, I suspected who the killer was, but with a wonderfully romantic twist at the end, I turned out to be wrong. And I was happy about that. I felt like the boy-who-grew-up-into-the-narrator would have led an unnecessarily tormented life if I had been right. With this ending, I was left with a sense of hope and optimism, albeit emotionally drained.
If you know of a mystery title that won’t give me nightmares (or day scares), leave me a comment below.
~ Phoebe DeCook