“Before it was over, the murders would claim the lives of seventeen people of different ages and backgrounds. All would be discovered with similar wounds: their throats slit or their wrists cut. A few sustained deep cuts to the inner thigh. Each of the victims died from blood loss, yet each of the crime scenes was suspiciously clean of blood. Bloodless,” (Blake 1).
In September 1958 the Carlson family is killed in their Minnesota farmhouse, their bodies drained of blood with no mess except on fifteen-year-old Marie Catherine Hale who is found covered head to toe in blood, none of which is hers. She is the first suspect found in a string of killings that have taken place over that summer where other victims were found in their homes, cars, or even in fields with their bodies also drained of blood, but Marie isn’t willing to tell anyone what she knows. Anyone, that is, except for the son of the local sheriff, Michael Jensen, who wants to escape Black Deer Falls and become a journalist. Marie tells Michael her story as Michael yearns to find the truth: What happened the night the Carlson’s were killed? How did Marie end up involved? And where did all the blood go?
I’m a simple girl, give me a story that even hints at the possibility of vampires and I’m on it like a leech to a vein. I was worried though, this book doesn’t have the gold-star reviews I expected from such an intriguing premise, and after reading it I don’t really understand why it doesn’t. All These Bodies is a fictional story with a true crime voice. Considering Blake used In Cold Blood as one of her inspirations for this book it comes as no surprise, but the amount of detail, consideration, and dedication she took to get the feel of a true crime story in a fictional setting is astounding. Blake does a wonderful job creating the small-town feel of Black Deer Falls as well as the stress and change that the Bloodless Murders have had on the small-town and it’s residents. Blake also weaves in issues of sexism and misogyny wonderfully with the mystery of the killings and Marie’s accusations. Michael is a wonderful narrator to follow and I loved seeing his and Marie’s unlikely relationship develop.
This isn’t a book where the answers come easy, being inspired by true crime narratives there has to be some acceptance that some mysteries will remain mysteries, even if the story Blake is telling is fictional. I liked that the story remained mysterious right to the end, I love stories that keep me wondering long after I’ve read them. Reader’s will be left with questions after finishing this book and I understand why this is frustrating to some reader’s, but using the true crime voice for this narrative means that not everything can be tied up neatly at the end. That being said, I understand why many reader’s disliked the ending and why the ending caused so many reader’s to lower their rating. The last chapter (arguably the last two, but definitely the last chapter) was unnecessary and felt out of place for the true crime narrative Blake had maintained throughout the novel. I wasn’t impressed by it, it wasn’t enough to effect my rating but it was enough for me to pretend the last chapter (or last two) didn’t exist.
All These Bodies is a masterful work of fiction with a true crime flair. It’s wholly unique in the genre and doesn’t fall on commons tropes that the YA genre tends to fall into. This is a story that lures you in and I hope inspires more works in a similar style.
Publication: September 21 2021
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Pages: 304 pages (Hardcover)
Genre: Fiction, YA, Crime, Mystery, Historical Fiction
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤
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.
As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlson’s were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?