In a small town three teenage girls disappear. Each time, their clothes are returned, washed and ironed. Fear takes possession of the town...
I liked The Church of Dead Girls. It is not your usual crime novel because the focus is not so much on the crimes but more on how they affect a town and its people. About fear and suspicions, and how they change a local community. This atmosphere and the resulting actions are very well described by the author. Only the end felt a bit rushed.
Quotes from the book
Her face had a pallor accentuated by chalky makeup so she resembled a character from the Addams Family.
In a small town like ours, something that has happened and something that has not happened but is gossiped about are equivalent.
When he reached the table, Aaron winked at Hark, then bent over to speak to him in private. Hark was surprised but he leaned forward so that Aaron could say something in his ear. [...] But instead of speaking, Aaron grabbed Hark's ear with his teeth and bit down.
Aaron stood by the door, then he reached in his mouth and removed something. It was Hark's ear, three-fourths of it, at least.
I often wish that people had little screens in their chests, small television monitors, that you could flick on and see the interior lives within. I don't mean blood pumping and lungs flexing, but what they think and worry about and love. Because otherwise it is all speculation and observing their actions, then coming up with a few possibilities that one tries to shift into the realm of probabilities.
Just as we are only aware of the surface parts of one another's mind, so are we only aware of the surface parts of one another's behavior. We see the polite part, the public part, and we can only speculate on what exists underneath. But usually if the surface part is conventional and well-mannered, we assume the rest to be also. Although what does that mean? How can we assume that a person's secret self is equally conventional and well-mannered?
In fact, many who professed friendship with Sharon had probably spoken to her only once or twice before her disappearance.
Given the publicity and how people spoke about her, one would have thought she was the brightest and most popular student in the school.
People seemed to feel that if someone in town was guilty, then it would be better for the guilty party to be a person nobody liked.
People have a need to believe that bad things are done by bad people. And what is bad? Isn't this defined as anything outside the common good, which is further defined as whatever the majority see as good?
Once people were suspected [...] it was hard to get them unsuspected. And everyone still remembered that they had been suspects long after the whole business was over.
Not only did we know that horrible things had happened, we were afraid that horrible things were about to happen. This made us even more suspicious, as if suspicion itself could keep us safe by keeping us alert.
Think of living your whole life in a town, being a respected member of the community, and suddenly you are suspected of perversion, of murder, and over a hundred people surround your house. Even in his worst nightmares, Powell could never have anticipated this.