Publication date June 2020/ Publisher Crooked Lane Books
It’s August 1984, and paperboy Christopher Stewart has gone missing.
Hours later, twelve-year-old Sammy Cox hurries home from his own paper route, red-faced and out of breath, hiding a terrible secret.
Crystal, Sammy’s seventeen-year-old sister, is worried by the disappearance but she also sees opportunity: the Stewart case has echoes of an earlier unsolved disappearance of another boy, one town over. Crystal senses the makings of an award winning essay, one that could win her a scholarship – and a ticket out of their small Iowa town.
Officer Dale Goodkind can’t believe his bad luck: another town and another paperboy kidnapping. But this time he vows that it won’t go unsolved. As the abductions set in motion an unpredictable chain of violent, devastating events touching each life in unexpected ways, Dale is forced to face his own demons.
Written in third person, we follow the lives of teenage journalism student Crystal, her younger brother Sammy and lead Detective Goodkind as we unravel the mystery of two missing paper boys.
I was drawn to the story as a lover of 80s small town America but for me this was my first book based on a true crime. That fact made the entire journey more sinister, the fear for those missing children was more palpable knowing it really did happen in Des Moines.
Everything from the characters, behaviour, pop culture references and setting were so authentic it felt as though I were watching it all unfold. The writing flowed nicely and everything included was necessary, I wouldn’t edit a thing.
The Monsters We Make focuses mostly on two slowly unravelling theories with a simple but acceptable pay off. My real interest was in the character development and the secrets they each hid. I identified very well with Crystal as the mothering, responsible older sister and felt the cause and effect of the events for each character were well thought out.
Thankfully no scenes go into horrifying detail but they still left a nauseous feeling. The dread and sympathy continued to build as the length of time the boys were missing stretched on and on.
In the end The Monsters We Make is a purely fictional take on a true event, it was very well written and feels entirely plausible.