I have always been a big fan of murder mysteries. Not in the grim, “I am a creeper,” kind of way, but in an, “I love to solve the mystery” kind of way. I am a Ravenclaw after all and I love finding the clues and sorting out a well-crafted mystery. “All These Bodies” is inspired by a real-life string of murders done by teenager Charlie Starkweather (really) with a supernatural twist. I was looking forward to digging into the story and after a thoroughly creepy start, I was hooked.
Michael Jensen, the sheriff’s son and aspiring journalist, becomes fascinated with the key witness and potential killer, Catherine Marie Hale after she is found at the scene of the crime covered in the victim’s blood. The catch? The trail of murders, stretching across countless states and months, has so far involved absolutely no blood. Not a single drop. Authorities throughout have been perplexed by the killings and Michael is determined to sort out what happened, especially because the victim was a friend from school and his entire family, save the baby.
I didn’t read the synopsis prior to starting the novel because I didn’t want to get distracted, so it wasn’t until probably halfway through the book that I realized it takes place in 1958! There isn’t a cell phone in sight and the author does such a great job of making the scenes so authentic that I hadn’t even noticed. Perhaps it brought me back to my childhood and a time where childhood shenanigans involved running through cornfields and jumping off high rocks into the river.
After being pulled into the investigation by pure luck and nepotism, Michael is granted many opportunities to sit down and discuss the killings with Catherine. Their scenes together are short of description, mostly dialogue, and I found them to be vague at best. That was probably the point since the “man” they discuss in these meetings is always danced around, very vague, never defined. That was honestly the hardest part of the book for me. I got to a point where I was reading feverishly, wondering and waiting to find out what happened. I turned the page and… that was it. Novel over. We never get to actually find out what happened, no finality, no conclusion. The author states in an opening letter within the book that the “overarching theme” is belief and yeah, I think she delivered that theme and message very well.
If you’re looking for a supernatural thriller or mystery this may not be for you, but it did absolutely creep me out and keep me turning the page so… maybe it is. I will leave you to believe what you’d like.
An advanced reader’s edition of this book was provided by the publisher, HarperCollins, for review.