Friday, October 15, 2010

a review of "The Grove" [76]

The Grove by John Rector
Amazon Encore, ISBN 978-1935597131
November 2, 2010, 294 pages.

Dexter, wakes up in his bed one morning, fully dressed, to find his friend, the local sheriff, standing over him and any memory of what happened last night gone. The sheriff is there because Dexter's wife called to tell him how angry and out of control Dexter was the night before, one reason she had left to move in with her mom for the time being. The sheriff also tells him that his tractor is gone from it's usual parking place and appears to have been driven into one of the fields, and is now stuck in a ditch.

Dexter has no memory of that either. Maybe because he has stopped taking his medication, medication that he has been taking since his stint years ago in the mental institution, and has started heavily drinking instead. Not good decisions, but two of only many, many bad decisions Dexter makes in this book.

When he goes out into the field to try and move the tractor, he catches a glimpse of something in the grove of trees that borders his farm. Thinking it is trash from the kids that sometimes hang out there at night, he is shocked to find a body, the dead body, of a young high school girl. At first, he starts to call the police, but then he knows that he will be their first suspect. And in fact, he is not at all sure that he did not kill her, since he can't remember the previous night.

So...he decides to investigate what happened himself. Not really smart.
But don't worry. He will not have to do it himself.
The bad new is that his companion is the dead girl herself, increasing horrible visions of the dead girl, urging him on to more ever more irrational and horrible things.
Dexter suffers from some unnamed metal disorder, which sounds a lot like schizophrenia, and is not helped by the fact that he has stopped taking the medication that have kept the voices at bay for years, or by the fact that he is drinking continually for most of the book. A very bad combination.
He is a man spiraling out of control. As we find out, something terrible has happen in Dexter's life in the previous year that has set off this decline and now his wife has left him and he is losing his tentative grasp on reality.Could he have killed someone in a drunken, mentally impaired blackout?
Well, he has before…

To have any sympathy for the narrator, you have to accept that there is, to him, some sort of logic in his endless series of bad, drunken, mad decisions. And I am not sure why, but I did. Maybe the concern of his friend, the sheriff and his wife is enough to convince us that he was once a different man and could be again. I did indeed find something likable and sympathetic about him. Yes, he is doing some very irrational things, all seeming just making the situation worse. But the reader still has some hope that maybe it will all work out, although it seems increasing unlikely. This book is a quick read and one that I found a real page turner. It is well written in a very direct style that suits the slightly bizarre story perfectly. Dark and creepy and disturbing and, luckily, short enough to be read in one long, scary sitting...all the the cold wee hours of the night.

My thanks to Amazon Vine for a copy of this book.


  1. This could have gone either way I think...killed a girl in your psychotic blackout? Tribute to the author for making him a likable fellow anyway!

  2. I did not say he killed a girl...

  3. Sounds like an interesting read. It seems like all of my favorite authors have not written anything new for awhile so I have been lost on what to read.

  4. This sounds really creepy and weird and good!

    But I wish he wasn't named Dexter. I cannot stop thinking of my Dexter the serial killer!

  5. I agree that was a small issue.


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