A remarkable debut novel for fans of Mary Gaitskill and Gillian Flynn about two sisters – one who disappears and the other who is left to pick up the pieces.
In the summer of 1991, teen Dee McBride vanished in the city of Milwaukee. It was the summer the Journal Sentinel dubbed ‘the deadliest . . . in the history of Milwaukee.’ Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s heinous crimes dominated the headlines and the disappearance of one girl was easily overlooked.
2019, nearly thirty years later, Dee's sister, Peg, is still haunted by her disappearance. Desperate to find out what happened to her, the family hire a psychic and Peg is plunged back into the past. But Peg’s hazy recollections are far from easy to interpret and digging deep into her memory raises terrifying questions. How much trust can we place in our own recollections? How often are our memories altered by the very act of speaking them aloud? And what does it mean to bear witness in a world where even our own stories about what happened are inherently suspect?
A heartbreaking page-turner, Willa C. Richards’ debut novel is the story of a broken family looking for answers in the face of the unknown.
‘On its face, The Comfort of Monsters is a riveting page-turner that begs to be read quickly, compulsively. But page by page, this electrifying debut by Willa Richards weaves an increasingly complicated and dark tale of guilt, fury, and the danger of building stories on that shakiest of foundations, memory.’ - Elizabeth Wetmore, author of Valentine
‘'Willa C. Richards's unflinching debut picks apart a tangled knot of violence, shame, secrecy, lust and fearsome love. A dark, elegiac examination of sisterhood that's impossible to forget.’ - Robin Wasserman, author of Girls on Fire
‘The Comfort of Monsters captivates with a cold case, and becomes an unflinching, unapologetic story of sexuality, victimhood and the dangerous pull of memory. Richards exposes the underbelly of grief, shows the heartbeat shaking that thin skin and leaves you, at novel’s end, holding something raw, fragile and essentially human. A remarkable debut.’ - Lydia Fitzpatrick, author of Lights All Night Long
‘The details of Jeffrey Dahmer’s murder spree transfixed a terrified nation. But this novel takes a more personal look at how the serial killer altered a family.’ - Washington Post
‘A wrenching debut... Meticulously researched and atmospheric, this is a perfect pick for book clubs and true crime aficionados.’ - Booklist
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Average rating from 5 members
The Comfort Of Monsters engaged me immediately, it is just the kind of atmospheric, beautifully written story I love. The story of a missing girl, her story lost in the surrounding furore of the Dahmer case and the sister who can't leave it all behind her is emotionally resonant from the start and digs deep into the psyche of those left behind. As a true crime addict this book really hit home with me- I have often felt so sorry for the families of the missing. This fictional tale that could be true is intriguing and made even more realistic by the fact that the main protagonist is far from perfect, is, in fact, often very unlikeable. Her missing sister also has very human flaws, the author going behind the standard pitch perfect nature of the lost after they are gone. The relationship between the sisters forms the heart of this novel, this is far more family drama than it is mystery and I would caution that if you like your stories wrapped up with a pretty bowed resolution this may not be for you. It is a character study, a human story and I loved it even though it left me melancholy.