All These Bodies

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Sept. 2021. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062977168.
Gr 8 Up–Michael Jenson has always wanted to be a journalist. Over the course of the summer in 1958, Michael has followed what the newspapers have dubbed “the Bloodless Murders”—a string of violent murders across the Midwest where the victims have been found with every drop of blood drained from their bodies—and his daydreams of stumbling across a story this huge grow by the day. Then the unthinkable happens. Michael’s small Minnesota town is rocked when the Carlson family is found murdered in their living room, drained of all their blood, with 15-year-old Marie Catherine Hale found lingering in the next room, drenched in blood. Suddenly, Michael is thrust into the national spotlight when Marie insists that she will only tell her story to him. Blake based this story on the real-life murder spree of teenagers Charlie Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate and the murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. The protagonists are well-developed—timid, polite Michael and bold, headstrong Marie carry the story forward on their own. The scenes in which Marie is recounting the murders to Michael are easily the book’s most riveting. Despite the fascinating inspiration and characterization, the novel overall suffers from uneven pacing and a repetitive narrative. However, readers may find the true crime aspect and vague supernatural layer thrilling enough to enjoy the book.
VERDICT A quick murder mystery that may not satisfy hardcore thriller fans but will no doubt be extremely popular due to its macabre plot.

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