The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich (1 out of 5)
Holy crap, this was one messed up book!!! When they compare it to “Gone Girl” on the front cover, it should remind me that I am probably not going to view it favorably. Because my opinion of “Gone Girl” did not jive with the NYT bestseller lists, nor with most of the customers who bought it in the store. I do not actively engage in conversation about that Gillian Flynn book, because it usually ended with yours truly getting the ole fish eyes. This book? If anyone asks (It is on my new paperback table right in front of the store), I am going to have to find an objective way to tell them I have something better. And lead them to the Rena Olsen book…. This book is out now in paperback. I think I got this one off of “Book reporter.com”. We all get it wrong, sometimes. I give the author a lot of credit, though. It certainly is a twisted, dark tale, and does indeed pull the reader into its lair, but there are so many snakes coming out of this bush, you don’t know which one to club over the head first. Too many motherfucking snakes in this motherfucking book! And it just turns into a treatise on the perils and ugly side of humanity. Isn’t there enough of that on the news today? Books are my escape. While I knew there was a dark side from reading the back, I never imagined this. If you aren’t strong in matters of spirit or heart, avoid this. If you like twisted chaos, this may be your bag. It certainly wasn’t mine.
Scott and his wife Elise are living in her father Victor’s house. Scott and Elise are barely holding onto their marriage as is, and with her dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis, there’s a lot of dissension and clichéd marital phrases uttered to hold some peace in a tense house. There’s no love lost between Scott and his father-in-law, but he holds his tongue as his wife goes to the hospital to spend every day with her dying father. Idle hands are the devil’s work, and so are idle husbands. Scott becomes oddly fixated with the neighbor’s house, with a light that goes off every night at 11pm. Most of my guy friends would be watching Dirk Gently or playing XBox at that hour, not creepily watching their neighbor’s house every night. And his wife seemingly jokes about it, so of course he makes his way over to the house one day when she goes to see her dad. And continues to do so, eventually breaking in. He brings Elise over and they initiate their trip into this creepy, abandoned house, but at the end both are horrified to see a mattress stained with blood. What the hell happened here? Of course, Scott has already been snooping on the owners and knows that the wife had cancer and they had been staying elsewhere, leaving the house vacant. But if that’s the case, what is it about that light going off every night?? I think of it as a metaphor for the novel, myself..but onward we go. Scott goes back the next day and cleans up the mess, and discovers a bigger secret. Which gives way to another secret, which he has to put to the side when Victor announces he wants to die at home. So the old man comes home, Scott confronts him with some evidence of some sheer evil shit that he did, and he throws some more curveballs at Scott. Meanwhile, Elise is coming unmoored more, between the stress of her father staying in that house, an ex who keeps contacting her, and her jailbird brother Ryder, who calls and has some creepy conversations with his sis every Christmas. Scott’s trying to figure out what his wife’s deal is, but before he can, he discovers a stunning secret in the basement of the neighbor’s house that make him commit a terrible act that not only goes unforgiven, but it also spirals the daisy chain of catastrophe off its training wheels. He discovers his wife is a lot more unhinged than he feared, and the novel ends in a spiderweb of violence and deceit that were just too much for this girl to take. If there had been more sympathy toward the characters, but I wanted to blow all of them up!! I did end up feeling a little bit sorry for Scott, but not enough that I wouldn’t smack him silly for the one act that very well could have tipped Elise over the edge. Except..I feel that she was already over the edge, driven there by her dying father. There are so many things in this book that make my head hurt. The end made it hurt worse. So I would tell you to avoid this if you don’t want to be shouting at a book. As I did much of today, while I was reading this. No matter how I tried to redeem various characters abd their actions, there was NONE. All of them had a part in the sick and twisted shit that went down here.So mass kudos to the author for making them so reprehensible that when shit got real, I couldn’t even absolve them of a single thing. That’s the mark of a talented author, for sure. But when the rest of the plot makes you want to “take a shower after reading it” (an accurate and apt blurb from Newsday on the back) and it makes your stomach clench from growing to hate the entire cast of characters, it cannot save the book from my “Throw that mofo in the trash” pile. It leaves a very bad taste in your mouth.