The Comfort of Monsters By Willa C Richards
‘The Comfort of Monsters’ is the debut novel by Willa C. Richards.
In the summer of 1991, teen Dee McBride vanished in the city of Milwaukee. It was the summer the Journal Sentinel dubbed ‘the deadliest . . . in the history of Milwaukee.’ Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s heinous crimes dominated the headlines and the disappearance of one girl was easily overlooked.
2019, nearly thirty years later, Dee’s sister, Peg, is still haunted by her disappearance. Desperate to find out what happened to her, the family hire a psychic and Peg is plunged back into the past. But Peg’s hazy recollections are far from easy to interpret and digging deep into her memory raises terrifying questions. How much trust can we place in our own recollections? How often are our memories altered by the very act of speaking them aloud? And what does it mean to bear witness in a world where even our own stories about what happened are inherently suspect?
For me this was a bit of a slow burn story that I found it hard to get into but once the pace picked it up, it was difficult to put down.
The story is seen from the perspective Peg, who’s sister Dee, disappeared over 30 years ago and now her dying mother has hired a psychic convinced that he’ll find her daughter and she can finally be put to rest. It’s controversial as people are cynical towards the psychic particularly at the fee that he is charging. Meanwhile, in the town of Milwaukee there are a spate of disappearing men and a serial killer is on the loose and the police are more invested in that case than Dee’s disappearance.
The story is written in the past and present tense. The past leading up to the Dee’s disappearance and her turbulent relationship with her older boyfriend called Frank who no one likes particularly Peg. Both Dee and Peg are complex characters who have a bit of a volatile relationship but at the end of the day, have each other’s backs. Peg goes out with Lief, an aspiring poet who’s spends his day, drinking and smoking, who’s relationship with Peg is strained particularly when it comes to sex and Dee is witness to this. The present scenes are interesting reading, as Peg’s family cling onto the hope of recovering Dee and Peg who has essentially put her life on hold, has to deal with ghosts and remembering old times and lives with the guilt of not doing more.
This book is a taunt read and once it gets moving is interesting. It’s dark, complex and set against a bleak town that is struggling with poverty and living in fear of serial killer. What is interesting about this book, is that the serial killer aspect is actually a true story and this is chilling, as young gay men were preyed upon and viciously murdered.
‘The Comfort Of Monsters’ is an intricately written story weaved with drama, lies and lust that made for dark reading.
You can buy ‘The Comfort Of Monsters’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.