Cover Image: The Fields

The Fields

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Member Reviews

This was a fun and interesting cover. My first read from this author. I loved every minute of it. Couldn’t stop reading!
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The Fields by Erin Young

Published: January 25, 2022
Flatiron Books
Pages: 348
Genre: Crime Thriller, Political Thriller
KKECReads Rating: 
I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily. 

Erin Young is the pseudonym of acclaimed historical novelist Robyn Young, author of eight internationally bestselling novels. She has been published in 19 languages in 22 countries, selling two million books worldwide. THE FIELDS is her first contemporary thriller. She lives and writes in Brighton, England.

“What did justice mean when criminals got parole and victims got life?”

Riley was recently promoted to sergeant. Between dealing with jealous male coworkers who are bitter about her promotion and keeping her family drama secret, the last thing she expected to find was a body in a cornfield. Now, things start to spiral, and Riley and her team have to scramble to find a brutal killer before anyone else dies.

This was an exciting novel. While there was the classic “thriller” aspect, which was very well done, there is an entirely different element to this book. 

And not since The Dancing Girls by M.M. Chouinard has a twist been both random and terrifying. 

There were some political power plays, which were executed well, and added good drama to the story. I enjoyed the characters and getting to know them through the book.

Riley is awesome. I enjoyed that she wasn’t perfect, knew she wasn’t perfect, but that she was willing to try. No matter what, she gave her all. Her backstory is interesting, and I think as the series continues, we will get more of it, and she is coming into her own as a leader. She is tough, intelligent, and protective Uber those she loves.

Logan was a shining star for me. I loved the imagery of him moving from Michigan to Iowa and the culture shock he displayed. It was very well done. I identified with his character being a transplant as I went to college in North Dakota. Logan’s character had a nice comedic element, which sometimes kept things from being “too” intense.

Maddie, Riley’s niece, has had a rough go with her parents. But her aunt adores her, and sometimes that is enough. Maddie is coming into her own, wanting more than her small-town life, and she has a lot of trauma that hasn’t been dealt with. I do not doubt that as the series continues, we will see huge strides in this character's arc.

I enjoyed a lot of the side characters and felt they added a nice dimension to the story. The development was well done, and I think the human element was well played.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel more than I anticipated. It’s a bit out of my genre element, it’s like a political thriller, but I couldn’t put it down. I think this series has a lot of potentials, and I am stoked to be ahead of the trend in saying that.
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The Fields by Erin Young was a police procedural/ family drama story centering around the murder of women in an Iowan farm community.

This started out slow for me. There were a lot of characters to keep straight and a lot of side plots happening. It all came together in the last 40% of the book. The pace and action picked up and things started to make more sense.

I’m from a farming community so I was really interested in the bio engineering mystery behind the story. I also really liked the main character, police detective, Riley Fisher, and her partner Logan. They had great chemistry. 

Lots of mystery and intrigue with some family skeletons coming out to add some spice. I’ll read more from Erin Young.
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DNF @ 10%

A majority of the first part of this book is preaching about the horrors of corporate farming which is definitely important, but it got exhausting.  Also, the writing style and some of the tropes being set up immediately turned me off. This just isn't for me
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The following comments and review are my honest opinion.
As smaller farms are being overtaken by large agricultural firms, what seemed like a promising answer to helping those small farmers and world hunger, soon turns political, involving foreign entities, missing persons and murder, lots of murder.  Riley Fisher, newly appointed Sergeant of the Iowa Black Hawk Sheriff’s Department and her team relentlessly follow leads that go nowhere as bodies are found with shocking and unbelievable wounds. A good novel of horror and tenacious police work. I received an early copy of this book from the Author, Erin Young, NetGalley and Publisher, Flatiron Books.
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The first in a new series by this debut Author, The Fields follows Riley Fisher, newly promoted Sergeant at the Black Hills County Sheriff's Office in Iowa. When a body is found in cornfields, Riley has to track down the killer - but she soon realizes that the victim was a school friend. 

Another body is discovered, and the hunt is on for a serial killer. This procedural is fast moving for the most part, and is particularly violent and gritty in its descriptions of the murder scenes. There are the usual tensions within the team, previous relationships coloring officers abilities to work together, as well as the fact that Riley has a previous connection to the victim that she doesn't fully disclose. Her personal story becomes important as the plot progresses. 

The book highlights the way Big Agriculture is affecting family farms, and there are a number of political connections pursued in the plot, both in the way Big Ag is presented, and also in the way that local politics affects Riley's ability to solve the crime. 

I thought the setting of the book and its connections to Big Ag were interesting, and the characters were multi dimensional, all with flaws that became apparent. The plot went in directions I didn't expect as the investigation continued. 

All in all I enjoyed the book, and I am likely to read the next in the series. 
I received a free ARC of The Fields by Erin Young from Macmillan in an exchange for an honest review
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✨BOOK REVIEW✨

✨SYNOPSIS- A young women’s body is found in an Iowa cornfield brutally murdered. Hometown girl, Detective Riley Fisher, is called to the scene. As she starts to dig into the murder the lies, secrets, and corruption of this Iowa farm town unravel and spin wildly out of control. 

✨THE GOOD- The fact that this author is from England and absolutely, positively nailed Iowa demographics, the people, the politics, and the towns was incredible. The book takes place in Waterloo and I did some of my student teaching there. The town has major crime issues and low poverty and this author couldn’t have depicted the city’s issues any better. As someone who married into a small family farming operation she completely understood the nuances of big agriculture versus the small farms. I was a little nervous how she was going to portray big Ag but she painted the correct picture of what it is like to be a small farm operation and how corrupt big Ag can be. Also, and my personal favorite is she references my hometown of Okoboji perfectly! That place will always be near and dear to my heart and she gave the reader the perfect image! 

 ✨THE MEH- I love slow burn mysteries. Some of my favorite books last year were fabulous slow burners. This plot however just drug on and on with nothing happening. I would find myself skimming ahead to see if anything major had happened. I also love characters and want to know everything about them. My issue with this book was there were waaaayy too many characters. There were so many that I lost track who was who! Once you get over 30 characters, things just get out of hand. 😳 

✨RATING- ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thank you @netgalley and @flatiron_books for this arc in exchange for my thoughts.
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The Fields is a procedural debut that transports the reader into a gritty world of corruption and murder set against the backdrop of Iowa’s agricultural industry. Quick assessment: I would recommend this book to any fans of Karin Slaughter’s work, or those who’ve rewatched any/all the serial killer episodes of Criminal Minds too many times to be healthy (just speaking from experience)

Based on those comparisons, I would definitely say I enjoyed this, but I’m unsure if it was unique enough to stand out, or if I will continue with the series in the future. It moved at a glacial pace sometimes, I found it difficult to keep track of all the random side characters, and the mystery’s conclusion wasn’t particularly mind-blowing. I think part of my neutrality on the whole thing could be blamed on procedurals being, simply, not my favorite kind of thriller to read. Additionally, there were some minor stylistic issues I had, but those will probably be ironed out in the final copy + in future books, as the author gains experience in the genre.

That being said, I really vibed with how the case related to the main character’s backstory/family, connecting her to the mystery in a personal way. Riley’s POV was by far my favorite, especially as we got the learn more about her ties to the missing/murdered women. The book also asserted itself as one of the more gruesome thrillers I’ve read in a while; be warned, Young does not shy away from any descriptions. I love a little gore, but I can see some readers definitely finding it over the top. Lastly, I liked the importance of the setting. Corn fields + horror are not an uncommon pair (Children of the Corn, There’s Someone Inside Your House, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, etc.). But, The Fields takes it a step further by bringing up conversations surrounding Big Agro companies, and the way that places have been irreversibly changed by their involvement in farming. It’s grim, but was an interesting element to the story, and not one that I have seen before.
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This mystery/thriller, the first in a planned series, follows Sergeant Riley Fisher when she arrives at the scene of a woman found dead in a corn field. The case becomes personal when Fisher realizes the woman is a childhood friend and reminds Fisher of a dark point in her past she thought she left behind.  What starts out as a seemingly straightforward investigation soon branches off as more victims are found and Fisher finds connections to something much larger than the small Midwest town.

TW/CW: cannibalism, drug abuse, medical experimentation, sexual assault (rape) of a minor

 The first point I want to make right away is that, in my opinion, the description/cover/title of this book do not in any way indicate just how graphic and violent this book gets.  For me, this was a big plus!  For other readers, this can be a big problem and I have seen some DNF reviews that had a problem with this exact point.  I was expecting a kinda quiet police procedural story set in a rural Midwest town.  And while that is the core of the book, the actual crimes depicted and how much of those crimes end up on-page were quite surprising.  Most of this book does follow Fisher in her investigation so we get descriptions of the crimes through her but there are a few chapters from other POVs that have a much more direct connection to the darker parts of these crimes and we do see some graphic scenes on page in those chapters. Each reader is going to have different lines in the sand, but for me, the graphic choices Young made in this book never cross the line into gratuitous but I can absolutely see how that would cross the line for other readers.  For me, Young walked a really tight line of balancing the graphic nature of the crimes with the investigation and, in the end, I found the payoff to be well-earned.

I loved the characters in this book and I'm so glad the author is planning on making this a series so we can see how the relationships develop.  Riley Fisher is the first female sergeant in the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office which is pressure enough.  But then when the mutilated body of a local woman shakes the small town, Fisher is faced with even more pressure to find the killer and close the case.  We get a great balance between Fisher's professional life and her rocky home life and we see how each affects the other.  These different areas pulling on Fisher's time really helped her become a very fleshed out and realistic character. She's flawed and has baggage just like everyone else and we see her deal with these struggles (although with different amounts of success at times).  The other characters in the world - the other police officers as well as her family - are also well developed and I especially loved the different types of relationships we see on page.  I think this is a complex and interesting group of characters that I'd love to follow into the next book in the series.

The one part that fell flat for me was the integration and connection of wider outside threats to this town. I knew from the description that there was going to be some sort of outside threat or connection which from an overall plot perspective, I think was great.  I had some problems with the pacing and actual narrative way those plot points were worked into the story.  The first 20% of this book is following Fisher and her investigation.  That was a pretty significant portion of the book and was long enough for me, as a reader, to settle in and get comfy with these characters, setting, and plot line.  So then, when the next chapter is removed from the town and investigation, it felt very jarring and confusing.  Now, I know that this chapter wouldn't be included unless it was important to the story in some way.  As the book progresses, we do get more of these other chapters that seemingly follow a different plot line that is completely separate from Fisher's murder investigation.  Again, I know as a reader that the plot lines should converge at some point (and they do), but as I was reading these other chapters really felt like they were potholes in the road. They were all pretty short and over quickly, but they disrupted my reading experience and I had a hard time understanding how/why they were a part of the road (overall story).  Fisher's plot line probably took up 85% of the story and the other 15% was this other plot line outside of town and this split, for me, was just enough to be disruptive while at the same time not being enough to be pulled into and enjoy that other side of the story.  I think if we had gotten this other plot line earlier in the book and it was more significant percentage of the book then that would help the two lines mesh together better.  I generally like split POV/plot line stories but this one just didn't come together great for me in the reading experience. 

 As this is a police procedural, the investigation is really front and center in this book - as it should be.  That being said, I think Young's writing style was really engaging and she does a great job of adding in these layers to the writing that help the story feel so much more exciting and eventful than a typical police procedural.  For example, I really noticed how much movement the characters have - they're walking around the office, driving to a new scene, multitasking while on the phone, etc.  As a lover of police procedurals, I can admit they can get a bit boring in places especially when all the lab tests results, coroner's report, etc start coming in.  There can be a good amount of info-dumping going on in those sections and most of that info won't be immediately impactful to the investigation.  Young, however, managed to balance all this same info-dumping with so much character movement and other activities happening in the same moment that it never felt like the characters were just sitting around and reading these medical reports aloud.  There was also a fantastic way of layering when the information came into the investigation, often while the characters were still actively investigating other leads.  Again, this left almost no downtime on the page as the characters were pretty consistently moving from one scene to the next, one interview to the next. There were a lot of good reveals in this story and seeing how all the pieces of these different plot lines came together in the end was fantastic. 

The ending to this book is a little over-the-top but I really liked where the story ended up.  The second plot line based out of town that I addressed earlier comes barreling in at about the 75% mark and then it is full speed ahead.  The ending does veer a bit into political-thriller category and integrates Midwest farming concerns over big-agriculture companies buying out and taking over family farms. I think Young did a really good job weaving in these bigger ideas into what started out as just a small town murder investigation but not all readers are going to appreciate that slight curve in the narrative.  I've never lived in a rural small town in Iowa, but based on the acknowledgements at the end of the book, Young spent a good amount of time traveling in the area and talking with local police officers and politicians to get a better grasp on the issues that people living in these towns experience (which is impressive considering Young resides in Brighton, England).  I really enjoyed the way the different plot lines all came together in the end and while this is the planned first book in a series, all the major lines are wrapped up pretty neatly so it can 100% be read as a standalone.

 Overall, I really enjoyed this read!  I loved the characters, investigation, and the graphic depths the story surprised me with.  I had a little bit of trouble with the way the chapters on other plot line were integrated in the story but I think the ending payoff was well earned.  This was a really surprising read and I loved how the story veered off in an unexpected direction a few times.  I look forward to reading more books in this series in the future.

 Thanks NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the ARC

 Expected publication date is January 25, 2022
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This book is a strong beginning for a new series.  The author doesn't shy away from gory detail.  The characters grow as the story progresses and everything ties together nicely at the end.  I really felt that things began to come together when I was half way through.  
The plot seems to be going in a couple, independent directions, at once.  First there is the person history of the main character, Riley, as she struggles with the memories that haunt her, brought fresh to the surface by the murder case she is investigating.
Second, is the murder case itself. Chloe, a childhood friend of Riley, is gruesomely murdered, the body found in a corn field.  Soon after another body is found.  There appears to be a vicious serial killer starting his career in this farming community and Riley is afraid the FBI behavioral agents consulting on the case, will end up taking it from the local law enforcement.
Third, there is the political corruption fueled by greed.  All these loose threads do tie together.  

Thank you to Netgalley and Flatiron books / MacMillan for the opportunity to enjoy this engaging police procedural e-ARC.
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A brand new procedural series from debut author Erin Young. Riley Fisher was just promoted to the head of investigations in a small town in Iowa. Her first case that she is called to, surrounds a young woman found dead in a cornfield of a small farm.

As Sergeant Fisher investigates and the body is identified as a childhood friend, this case is closer to home than she would like. Additional bodies are found, and Riley is left to determine if they have a serial killer on their hands.

As Riley continues to work this case, she also is dealt a hard blow as an incident from her own past is coming to light and causes much pain for her. As the story continues this case becomes larger than she could ever imagine.

The story overall was ok, but I feel that Young was trying to capture some of the more recent female author’s notoriety of success in recent years. There was nothing that made this book sparkle and shine in this genre. If you are hardcore fan of this genre, than I think it is worth a try, but since this is not my favorite genre, I have to find a story that is absolutely compelling to have me buy into additional stories.

Thank you NetGalley and Flatiron Books for an Advanced Readers Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to Flat Iron Books and Erin Young for reaching out with The Fields and including me in your blog tour. This one hits shelves January 25!

I had a hard time getting into this one. It was very graphic out of nowhere and very political also. Both of these things just didn’t appeal to me. It annoyed me mostly and I just couldn’t get around that. I’ve read some other reviews of this one that were really good. If you’re into police procedurals with a hefty amount of information on agricultural giants then here’s your book, my friends.

The Fields is a procedural set in Iowa. This one centers around daily realities of rural life. Sergeant Riley Fisher is a detective with the Black Hawk County Police Department. She’s recently been promoted but is still hungry for respect from her male coworkers. When a body is found in the fields somehow Riley is connected along with some secrets she needs to stay buried.
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I could not stand to read this under-informed polemic about agriculture. Ms Young's knowledge of ag is minimal (even her vocabulary is wrong) and of ag politics beyond "big is bad" even less. Strip the text of this nonsense and you perhaps might have something interesting.
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What a great book one in what should shape up to be a great series! 
It opens with a dead body in a corn field, delves into some small town history, has great characters and plot lines .I read it fast and while it was a tad graphic, I still enjoyed it! 

Thankful for this ARC!
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Riley Fisher is the newly promoted sergeant at the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office in Iowa, when  a woman's body is found mutilated in the middle of a corn field. Riley realizes she recognizes the woman, and after the initial shock, begins to investigate the brutal murder. Soon, another woman's body is found, and a strange detail connects them. As the investigation grows, Riley begins to discover that the murders may be part of something larger going on within the agricultural community and the consequences could have some big repercussions. 

This is a police procedural. that didn't really feel like a typical police procedural, it felt personal and deeply dramatic, as there was a good mix of the police investigation and personal storylines going on in the book. Everything was well balanced and nothing was too overpowering or dry (sometimes straightforward procedurals can get too bogged down in details and become stuffy).

Riley is dealing with both the investigation and some things in her own life, which makes her a relatable character and someone who isn't some Mary Jane, unreachable character. She males some progress in working out some issues in this book and this appears to be the start of a series, so I'm really interested to see where she goes from here.  

The mystery itself is really intense. I don't want to give out any spoilers but it is very complicated  but it all comes together in the end perfectly like a puzzle that slowly reveals its picture. It really hits during the reveal and wow - I did not expect it when I started reading the book. I'm willing to bet not many people can guess what's coming either, lol.

I would definitely read more in this series and look forward to returning to Black Hawk County to see what Riley and the gang are up to!
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This book was an interesting procedural. I enjoyed figuring out the mystery, and that it was actually a pretty straightforward mystery. Young didn't try to layer a mystery in so many folds that you couldn't possibly figure out some of the things going on, but there was still a bit of the fantastical that lends itself to surprise. I also enjoyed that we were dealing with a sergeant and Young orchestrated her job and she wasn't just a regular detective. It made sense that she was overseeing but also managing her team. I wish we had seen more of that overall because it would have made her feel more capable. 

I also enjoyed that this was not such a small town to be contrived. It was a midwestern small city and that made sense. The character also made sense in the world. She was capable and didn't deteriorate fully during this ordeal, which was great to see. Also, she seemed to understand some of the complexities of farming life and small v. big farming. I enjoyed seeing a different group of people represented in a mystery. That doesn't often happen. 

But there were a few things that stopped me from absolutely loving this book as a procedural. One, it felt like Young was throwing all the things at this character. We are dealing with past trauma, me too, drug abuse and substance abuse in the family, and governmental conspiracies. It was just a lot to put into one book and felt like she lost me in a lot of places. I felt like this novel would have been more effective had she tried to make a well crafted novel in one or two of these lanes and it felt like a bit of a mess when looking at all the layered details. One of the primary antagonists was someone I was confused as to who he was at the end. Further, some of the big bads felt a bit contrived and silly overall. Last, I really felt some of the views were a bit conservative for the sake of "small town" thoughts when that wasn't well earned. The protagonist comes off as hypocritical and as a person who is being blamed as a victim in the same breath. I felt a bit confused as to the author's own intent with some of the beliefs the book espouses overall. This was fixed with some plot twists, but also it made me a bit disappointed overall. 

Thank you NetGalley and Flat Iron for an ARC for this honest review.
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These past five years or so, I've noticed this blend of crime thriller has become very prevalent in popular fiction. Though there are many options out there, that doesn't make these any less interesting. I'll have a full of review of this exciting new mystery posted to my website and normal purchase links in a few weeks.
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Erin Young writes one heck of a thriller in her new novel "The Fields". This is a debut thrills novel for this author who writes historical fiction under another name (Robin Young) and will be the start of a series of crime stories that surround the heroine, Sergeant Riley Fisher. The author masterfully explores the past of the police Sergeant while telling the story of several gruesome murders that have occurred, all seemingly related. Erin's efforts are assisted by her colleagues and one, Logan, proves to be a knowledgable and loyal sidekick. Her brother and niece provide family issues and complicate matters as the story unfolds. I was impressed with the story. It was one I could not put down and while it had many threads, parts, and pieces the writer was able to infuse all into a blockbuster ending. I will definitely be interested in reading more of the work of this talented author in two of my favorite genre's crime thriller and historical fiction. Both require a great deal of research to be satisfying to the reader and this author knows how to do that. Thanks to #NetGalley#ErinYoung for the opportunity to read and review this excellent new crime thriller.
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TRIGGER WARNING: THIS NOVEL IS EXTREMELY GRAPHIC AND VIOLENT WITH WHAT I THOUGHT WERE UNNECESSARY DETAILS.

At 30% I'm throwing this on the DNF pile!!! There is so much I don't like about this book. I certainly wouldn't call it "beautifully written and masterfully crafted". By 30% I was just really annoyed with it and knew it wasn't a book for me.

I should have put the book aside from the start as I don't like books with graphic violence, but I pushed past it in the beginning in the hopes that it would not be repeated, but it definitely continued and with details that I didn't think were necessary to the plot at all.

I will admit that I didn't like the main character, Riley. She does a lot of really unprofessional and just dumb things. Going off on her own to do her investigating, etc. She didn't seem like a skilled enough "detective" for these major murder cases.

There is a large cast of characters and I had problems keeping track of who is who and how they fit into the plot. There are characters from the present and from the past, way too many for me to care about.

We keep getting little tidbits of information of something bad that happened to Riley in the past, but I never got to the point where I even knew what that was and why or how it fit into the story.

Basically this is a novel with an agenda. Big Agriculture against little farmers and all of the bad things that they do to drive out the little guys. While I'm sure a lot of this may be true, I didn't really want to read a book based on these political issues. I have no idea how much research the author did or if all of this is just fiction.

I guess I'm getting tired of books with political statements. It felt as though the author couldn't decide whether this was a thriller or if she wanted to make a statement about Big Agriculture??? I think she tried to do both and it didn't work for me.

At any rate there are other reviewers who loved it, so I'm in the minority. If you want to read it, go in blind and it may be a good fit for you.

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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Note to publisher -- Since I did not finish this book I will not be publishing this review to any purchasing sites. Thank you
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Trigger Warnings: rape and sexual assault, alcohol, drug use, abuse, violence and gore (graphic), murder

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an ARC!

I am very disturbed and I can’t tell if it’s in a good way.

First of all, this book is graphic. I probably should have seen that coming, considering that it’s a thriller and murder mystery, but the thrillers that I read are nothing like this. I was honestly unsettled by a lot of the book, especially once I got past the 40% mark.

The plot of this book followed Riley Fisher, head of investigations in a small police department in small-town Iowa, assigned to a murder case. However, the circumstances of the death were strange, not lining up with any normal causes, and the body discovered was her childhood best friend. Things unraveled with a string of a missing girl and more murders.

This was intense and very harsh. The realities it faced were aggressively realistic, to the point of very graphic, disgusting details and painful flashbacks through Riley’s perspective.

The plot just stuck with me so much - it was so aggressively painted, with so much detail and truth embedded throughout that I just couldn’t shake it. It was dark, cruel and realistic in a way that I don’t think I’ve seen in another book.

Her own past - dredged up with Chloe’s body - had become excruciatingly present. If she wasn’t able to solve this case, Riley feared she might never be able to push it all back down inside.

Riley was a very strong protagonist. Her perspective, actions and narration were so real and harsh and written so well that you could tell she was a well-developed person. I loved her mindset and strength and how her emotions were so clear and tangled in a very human way.

Logan was cool, I didn’t care about him that much but he was a good, strong character. He was written really well and I liked his mindset. I was drawn into how he worked so well with Riley.

Jackson Cole was an asshole and I despised him, but there was more to him than just being a straight-up dick, so I appreciate the characterization. I felt some sympathy for him and I won’t deny that he’s not evil, but I also really wanted him to get shot and killed.

Maddie was very realistic and I really appreciated a look into a teenage girl’s mind that wasn’t stereotypically what we call “high-school age narrative.” Maddie’s consciousness was treated differently, if that makes any sense. She felt so much more raw and unfiltered than most authors write high school girls.

The narration of the story flashed from character to character, from people in the background to our recurring mains, mostly Riley and Logan. There were a lot of different perspectives, but each one was incredibly unique.

One of my favorite parts about these characters was how they all felt so rough and authentic in such unsettling ways. They were crude, almost extreme to the point of exaggeration but in a way that perfectly fit with an everyday narrative. I’ve met my own share of Rileys and Jackson Coles and Maddies, and it scares me how they just blended into reality.

These women - Chloe, Nicole, Gracie - they were under her skin, occupying her waking thoughts and her dreams. They’d become part of her: their violent deaths and lost lives.

This book addressed the violence of this world in such an unflinching way. Almost immediately, with the gruesome deaths of several women, you could tell Erin Young wasn’t going to shy away from what really happens to 99% of missing girls.

I’m honestly kind of amazed at the issues this book addressed. It went into feminism and the opposite, the realities of all girls past the age of twelve. It went into environmental issues - a lot of environmental issues, actually. There was a lot of emphasis placed on farming and industry, but in a way that perfectly went with the setting of small-town Iowa.

It went into drugs and assault and trauma, and it didn’t back down. It was honestly terrifying. Riley’s flashbacks and the string of murders and the perspectives scattered through the story were horrifying - especially when you read a chapter that is so, so clearly written from the point of view of the killer, but in a way that makes you really see their side. This book truly, genuinely scared me, and while I didn’t particularly enjoy that experience, I will say that it was worth so much.

Where was the fork in her road? The divergence that had led her to this place of slaughter?

Honestly, this book was so much more than a detective murder thriller. There was way too much packed into this for it to just be a true crime read. The narrative was as compelling and fascinating as it was disgusting.

Overall, would I recommend this book? Absolutely, but only if you’ve got a strong stomach for some very gory details. This book was aggressive and unflinching, in a way that you can’t really enjoy.

I did love it, but not in the way I usually love books. More like I admire everything about it in the same way that I’m terrified of spiders and poisonous snakes - I appreciate their tenacity and the fear they inspire in me.

Aside from my very obvious terror, this book was really good in a literary sense too. The characters, setting and plot were all written well, and I actually really loved the writing. It was gritty and intense, but there were some lyrical flourishes along the way that stood out to me unexpectedly.

Basically, my advice is: if you want to be scared and tense for a full day or two, read this book. If you want something shocking and gruesome, read this book. If you want something true crime without the editing and airbrushing of a documentary, read this book.

If you like thrillers, maybe don’t. It depends.

That was the thing about monsters. Like the wolf in grandma’s clothing. Like the witch with her house of gingerbread. If you weren’t careful, you wouldn’t see them coming.

Objectively, it was good, but mentally, it scarred me. But also in a somewhat good way.
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