The Monsters We Make

The Monsters We Make by Kali White

Published June 9th 2020 by Crooked Lane Books

About the Book: For fans of Rene Denfeld and Shari Lapena comes a rich, atmospheric family drama set in the 1980’s following the disappearances of two paperboys from a small midwestern town.

It’s August 1984, and paperboy Christopher Stewart has gone missing. Hours later, twelve-year-old Sammy Cox hurries home from his own paper route, red-faced and out of breath, hiding a terrible secret.

Crystal, Sammy’s seventeen-year-old sister, is worried by the disappearance but she also sees opportunity: the Stewart case has echoes of an earlier unsolved disappearance of another boy, one town over. Crystal senses the makings of an award winning essay, one that could win her a scholarship – and a ticket out of their small Iowa town.

Officer Dale Goodkind can’t believe his bad luck: another town and another paperboy kidnapping. But this time he vows that it won’t go unsolved. As the abductions set in motion an unpredictable chain of violent, devastating events touching each life in unexpected ways, Dale is forced to face his own demons.

Told through interwoven perspectives–and based on the real-life Des Moines Register paperboy kidnappings in the early 1980’s–The Monsters We Make deftly explores the effects of one crime exposing another and the secrets people keep hidden from friends, families, and sometimes, even themselves.

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4 Stars: โญโญโญโญ

This story was based on true events from the 1980s when three boys, two of them paperboys, were kidnapped in or near Des Moines. Author Kali White remembers the second kidnapping and years later researched and wrote this book. Are these three cases connected? The crimes were committed in 1980, 1982 and 1984. Makes you think.

Twelve-year-old Sammy Cox is a local paperboy with a secret. On the day that paperboy Christopher Stewart disappears, Sammy’s sister, Crystal sees him running down a side street near home. She ha heard about the disappearance and thinks Sammy knows something. She begins watching him, asking questions and accidently stumbles onto something that worries her. Crystal is trying to win a scholarship to University by writing an award winning essay, and tying this crime to the one two years earlier could be her break. Officer Dale Goodkind was on the earlier case and moved away to get away from his unsolved case, but finds himself the lead investigator on this one. He has some secrets in his past that cause him not to want to get involved in this again.

This story was told from different POVs, Sammy, Crystal and Dale. It is a well-written story that had me quickly flipping the pages to find out if this case would be solved and Christopher rescued. Well, there is more to this story than meets eye. The author does a great job at capturing the 1980’s and it took me back to that time period. The family dynamic between Crystal, her mother, her brother and their father was complex, but believable. I felt for the kids who are often the ones that get the short end of the stick when a marriage falls apart. Dale was a sympathetic character. There were times I liked him and others, I was angry with him. He had a lot of baggage to work out and needed to man up and be honest with people. The ending was well written and gave a realistic ending to the story. Not all mysteries get solved, but that is real life. I recommend this book to those who like mysteries based on true events, with some great characters and interpersonal relationships. I will watch for more books from Kali White.