Crooked Lane Books: 8/11/20
review copy; 272 pages
The Monsters We Make by Kali White is a recommended family
drama set in the 1980's following the disappearances of two paperboys
from Des Moines, Iowa.
In 1982 a paperboy goes missing and is never found. Two years later in August 1984, paperboy Christopher Stewart goes missing from his morning paper route. Twelve-year-old Sammy Cox, who has a paper route, runs home, afraid of someone but he is keeping this a secret. His sister Crystal, seventeen, is concerned about the missing boys but also sees it as an opportunity to write a great college entrance essay that could win her a scholarship, so she begins looking into it. Officer Dale Goodkind has just moved to this part of Des Moines and now there is another paperboy who is missing and he is put on this case too. Dale, who is clinically depressed, may not be up to the task.
This novel is fiction, but is based on the real-life Des Moines
Register paperboy kidnappings in the early
1980's. The novel follows Dale, Crystal and Sammy as the investigation
continues and potential suspects enter the story. As the investigation
unfolds through the point-of-view these three characters, you will care
about what happens to them, especially Crystal and Sammy. There is some
good coverage of what a pedophile/predator says and does to control
victims and manipulate them.
Touchstones of the 80's are well-integrated into the narrative
setting the time and place of the setting. All the people in the 80s
weren't quite as naive or unsuspecting as White depicts, however,
especially in a city, which Des Moines is and was back then. Sure, some
were, but some were also quite aware of stranger danger. The plot does
slow down in the middle and the ending occurs rather abruptly. The novel
is also very predictable. Additionally, Officer Goodkind's personal
problems and struggles do detract from the story and the investigation.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.