Saturday, November 20, 2021

Review: All These Bodies by Kendare Blake

by Kendare Blake
Release Date: September 21, 2021
2021 Quill Tree Books
Kindle Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062977168
Audiobook: B08VZH2WBT
Genre: Fiction / YA / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

2.5 / 5 Stars

Summer 1958—a string of murders plagues the Midwest. The victims are found in their cars and in their homes—even in their beds—their bodies drained, but with no blood anywhere.

September 19- the Carlson family is slaughtered in their Minnesota farmhouse, and the case gets its first lead: 15-year-old Marie Catherine Hale is found at the scene. She is covered in blood from head to toe, and at first she’s mistaken for a survivor. But not a drop of the blood is hers.

Michael Jensen, son of the local sheriff, yearns to become a journalist and escape his small-town. He never imagined that the biggest story in the country would fall into his lap, or that he would be pulled into the investigation, when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to. 
My Thoughts
All These Bodies really had the potential to be great.  It had atmosphere, a pretty interesting mystery, a setting I loved, and some pretty quirky main characters.  And while I was engrossed for perhaps the first third of the book and thought this would be a pretty solid read, the threads pretty much slipped apart from this point until it became something disjointed and not that interesting.  I wasn't a fan of the ending, and not because of what happened, but it simply didn't seem to flow with the rest of the story, nor did it have a denouement that made sense.
First of all, I did enjoy Michael Jensen as a main character and I completely understood his fascination with Marie.  For a teenage boy who wanted to be a journalist when he graduated, this seemed pretty logical.  I could also understand his obsession with the story as Marie only gave him bits and pieces at a time and he was yearning to understand the reasons behind the story, and as a reader I wanted to learn them with him.  This is where things get a bit murky though, as the story was vague to say the least, and the reasons really pushed even my limits for suspension of logical belief.  Whether this was done on purpose or not, I couldn't quite figure out, but it made me lose interest in Marie's fate and I stopped being invested in Michael's fascination with her character.  It made me lose complete interest in what was happening.  So, if that was intentional, it had the opposite effect on me, which was a shame.
I love reading murder mysteries with an atmospheric setting, so this one had all the trademark aspects that I love; the bodies, the blood, the fog, the eerie setting, the creepiness factor, the mysterious girl, the secrets, etc...  And when I learned the story was loosely based on real-life events, I thought it would be fascinating material, but the story was too disjointed and I just couldn't relate to Marie.  I think I was supposed to feel sympathetic towards her, but the writing style, which tried to be mysterious and have the reader on tenterhooks, focused more on Michael's obsession and how it was affecting his life and his friends, and made me lose sympathy for her.  I just thought the information and how it was revealed was not fully explained; it made the last quarter of the book hard to get through and I was rapidly losing interest in what was happening. 
All These Bodies is one of those books in which I was really disappointed because I typically really enjoy this author.  Her writing style usually has this way of drawing you into an atmospheric world, and it was definitely this way in the first third of the book.  However, the later parts of the book were quite disjointed and didn't flow leaving you unsettled and feeling disappointed with the revelations and story line.  And while the setting was atmospheric, the ending just didn't flow well with the rest of the story and left you feeling unsatisfied.