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The Church of Dead Girls: A Novel Paperback – Jun 15 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (June 15 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080505104X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805051049
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.6 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

Product Description

From Amazon

Despite its superficial resemblance to a whodunit, The Church of Dead Girls is not a conventional thriller. Don't expect it to be suspenseful. This is a literary horror tale--slow paced, contemplative, meticulous in its descriptions--about a formerly sleepy small town in which the crucial distinction between public and private life is dissolving as suspicion spreads like a toxin. The reader's guide to this process of corruption is a high school biology teacher--reserved, somewhat snotty, but a thoughtful man, and reliable in spite of his cynicism. He says, "It is dreadful not to be allowed to have secrets. Years ago I happened to uncover a nest of baby moles in the backyard and I watched them writhe miserably in the sunlight. We were like that." Ultimately you realize that the killer's identity, even the deaths of three girls, are small matters compared to the collapse of the town's very soul. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Despite the lurid title, Dobyns's latest novel (he is a poet and author of the "Saratoga" mystery series) is a compelling mystery that shows how the people in a small town change because of a series of murders. First, a promiscuous woman is murdered. Then three girls disappear in succession. The narrator reports how the symptoms of fear escalate into a raging disease consuming the community. Cloaking prejudice and fear with righteousness, certain citizens target individuals who are on the community's fringe. By the story's end, no one escapes suspicion. Many characters and the complexities of human interactions receive well-rounded treatment. This absorbing tale, fit for any general collection, is highly recommended.?Michelle Foyt, Fairfield P.L., Ct.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Afterward everyone said it began with the disappearance of the first girl, but it began earlier than that. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau TOP 500 REVIEWER on Nov. 26 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is an exquisitely written book. So beautifully is it written that, at times, its lyricism is almost poetic. The richness of the writing is immediately apparent in the prologue. It is the prologue that draws the reader in, so rich is it in its decriptiveness. It is there that the reader first comes upon "The Church of Dead Girls."

The book itself is not so much about the murder of young girls, as it is about the reactions of the people in the small town in which the murders occur. It is their reactions to the murders that are central to this book and conveyed to the reader through a brilliantly nuanced, first person narrative by the town's high school biology teacher.

The people in the town of Aurelius in upstate New York are like those found in many small towns, insular and inherently suspicious of anything different from that which they are used to. Aurelius is representative of a lot of small towns across America. There is really nothing special about this moribund, complacent little town, until young, teenage girls begin disappearing, one by one.

Through the contrivance of first person narration, the author explores the deepest recesses of human nature, as suspicions and accusations unfold and fingerpointing begins. No one in town is exempt from the poison of suspicion. The finger is first pointed to the most likely target, a foreign born college professor whose ideas run counter to that of mainstream middle America. He is a newcomer to the town and is as different from the majority of the townspeople as can be. This hapless individual becomes demonized in the frenzy of suspicion, petty hatreds, and fear with draconian results. Unfortunately, he is only the first.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was the dullest murder/suspense novel I've ever read. Reading it was like being smothered. It seems to have been written by a mutant blend of Stephen King and William Faulkner, and not in a good way.
Right from page 1 you know that three young teenagers in this small upstate NY town have been murdered; the only suspense is who did it and why, which isn't revealed until around page 400 of a 418-page novel. The rest is filler and red herrings in the shape of small-town gossip and conjecture, told through a high school biology teacher who's a longtime resident of said small town.
I finished it, skimming the last 100 or so pages, because with murder mysteries, I want to know whodunit.
If you like mysteries, horror, suspense, that sort of thing, don't bother with this book. I don't know if this is typical of Dobyns' output; if so, I doubt I'll read anything by him again. At least I didn't pay money for the book; it was a loaner from a friend whose tastes generally mesh better with mine than they did this time.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was the dullest murder/suspense novel I've ever read. Reading it was like being smothered. It seems to have been written by a mutant blend of Stephen King and William Faulkner, and not in a good way.
Right from page 1 you know that three young teenagers in this small upstate NY town have been murdered; the only suspense is who did it and why, which isn't revealed until around page 400 of a 418-page novel. The rest is filler and red herrings in the shape of small-town gossip and conjecture, told through a high school biology teacher who's a longtime resident of said small town.
I finished it, skimming the last 100 or so pages, because with murder mysteries, I want to know whodunit.
If you like mysteries, horror, suspense, that sort of thing, don't bother with this book. I don't know if this is typical of Dobyns' output; if so, I doubt I'll read anything by him again. At least I didn't pay money for the book; it was a loaner from a friend whose tastes generally mesh better with mine than they did this time.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Church of Dead Girls is the best novel I have read in a long time. I imagine that most readers of this review are looking for a good thriller/serial killer novel; this book is certainly that, and an excellent one. Dobyns uses some wonderful techniques to create the sort of suspense that keeps you up at night. Even the most seasoned readers of serial killer novels will be uncertain what exactly is going on until the last few pages.
But what is even more interesting, this "whodunnit" is the story about a small town that has fallen under the shadow of murder and abduction. This is not a novel about police hunting down a serial killer, but rather, a novel about what happens to the inhabitants of a sleepy rural town when they are confronted with the fact that one of them (at least) is a monster.
Still better, though, is Dobyns' masterful narrative. It takes a lot of courage to stray away from the omniscient and anonymous third person and the tell-all biographical first person narratives. Dobyns, however, has done just that. Our narrator is a real person, a teacher at the local high school. He himself plays only a minor role in the story he tells and admits to not knowing everything. Frequently the story is told in a thrid person voice, but the narrator always provides us with the source of his information, so that the feeling of authenticity is maintained. Dobyns brings this town so vibrantly alive that you begin to wonder if this is really fiction.
Dobyns has proved himself to be a masterful storyteller -- don't deprive yourself of this wonderful experience.
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