All These Bodies by Kendare Blake
Published: September 21st 2021 by Quill Tree Books
Genre: Young Adult // Mystery, Thriller, Horror
Quick Thoughts: Intricate journalism-driven narrative through a murderous story that needs to be read to be believed
About The Book: Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation.
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 Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?
As an already huge fan of Kendare’s writing, I was beyond excited when I read about All These Bodies earlier this year. I’m a sucker for a mystery (with a touch of “maybe” vampries) so I wasted no time delving straight in once my pre-order landed in my lap.
Beginning in the summer of 1958, a cluster of murders sweeps through the Midwest of the USA. The bodies begin to pile up fast, victims found in various places, scenarios and positions, their bodies completely drained of blood. By September, it reaches Michael Jensen’s small hometown of Black Deer Falls, where almost nothing exciting ever happens. In their farmhouse, the Carlson family (minus their toddler) are killed there. Unlike the other scenes across the country, the police have a lead: Marie Catherine Hale is found at the crime scene, completely covered in blood. First thought to be a victim, this theory is squashed quickly when they realise that she’s not hurt at all, and none of the blood is hers. Michael can’t believe that an unsuspecting fifteen year old girl is their suspect. He is a wannabe journalist and son of the sheriff, and as the story swiftly unfolds, it lands firmly on his doorstep when Marie decides that she only wants to tell him the truth of what happened.
Throughout the next set of months full of back-and-forth conspiracies around the deaths, Michael starts to piece together Marie’s story as he hears her truth. Only, what she has to say is far from believable. At first, he’s stuck on why she’s lying when there’s no other suspect in sight and seems to be coherent enough to not lie. But as he spends more time with Marie, learning of where she’s been, who she is and how she came to be here, the more he begins to believe that the truth might be scarier – and harder to believe – than people might be ready for. And when time is running out, press and police determined to make her pay for her crimes, the more certain Michael is that Marie is one enigma of a girl – and that she’s been running with someone far more horrifying.
Overall, I ATE this book up. I don’t think I’ve been as enamoured with a book in months, practically glued to the pages for hours a day, squeezing in any chance of reading I could get. Kendare aced the atmospheric feel of a small town, keeping me on the edge of my seat with each turn of the page, eager to know more about Marie. I loved the way so much of the ending could be interpreted in many ways, and I for one was OVER THE MOON with the last page. It was an intricate journalism-driven narrative through a murderous storyline that needs to be read to be believed – and I really have never read a book like this in my life – five stars worthy completely! If you need me, I’ll be recommending All These Bodies to all my friends and family for the next few months.
Kendare Blake is the author of several novels and short stories, most of which you can find information about via the links above. Her work is sort of dark, always violent, and features passages describing food from when she writes while hungry. She was born in July (for those of you doing book reports) in Seoul, South Korea, but doesn’t speak a lick of Korean, as she was packed off at a very early age to her adoptive parents in the United States. That might be just an excuse, though, as she is pretty bad at learning foreign languages. She enjoys the work of Milan Kundera, Caitlin R Kiernan, Bret Easton Ellis, and Richard Linklater. She lives and writes in Gig Harbor, Washington, with her husband, their cat son Tyrion Cattister, red Doberman dog son Obi-Dog Kenobi, rottie mix dog daughter Agent Scully, and naked Sphynx cat son Armpit McGee.