It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Comfort of Monsters by Willa C. Richards.
‘Set in Milwaukee against the real-life crimes of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, the searing tale of a missing girl and a family devastated by her disappearance.’
About the Author
Willa C. Richards is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review and she is the recipient of a PEN/Robert J. Dau Prize for Emerging Writers. The Comfort of Monsters is her debut novel.
Willa was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1990. Both her parents are archaeologists and professors at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has three sisters and a brother. The Comfort of Monsters was inspired by a case her mother worked on as an historic archaeologist. In 2014 she was contacted by a family who, based on a tip-off they received from a psychic, believed their missing daughter was buried in an old cemetery on the Milwaukee County grounds. Willa’s mother helped organise the excavation over that summer, and Willa volunteered as a field tech along with a handful of others. No remains were ever found.
About the book
Summer 1991 was the summer the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel dubbed ‘the deadliest in the history of Milwaukee’ as the victims of Jeffrey Dahmer’s killing spree were revealed and dominated the headlines. The disappearance of teen Dee McBride is overlooked by an over-worked and broken justice system.
2019 nearly thirty years later, Dee’s sister, Peg, is still haunted by Dee’s disappearance. Desperate to find answers, the family hire a famous psychic and Peg is plunged back into the past. But exploring the depths of her own memories raises terrifying questions. How much trust can we place in our own recollections?
Thirty years after the disappearance of her sister Dee, Peggy is still invested and obsessed with finding out the truth, and more importantly with finding Dee. The problem is she can’t get anyone to listen and no body means no crime.
Set around the real events in Milwaukee and a certain prolific serial killer, who found it easy to prey with such audacity perhaps because his victims were viewed in such a negative way. It’s often hard to believe this is fiction, because the facts are woven into the fabric of this tale in such subtle way.
This is clearly an author to watch, an incredibly talented writer. Being able to create a captivating story without a bog standard ending, despite the fact plenty of readers will probably demand a solution – it’s not only indicative of said talent, it also sails as close to reality as you can possibly get.
Richards captures the true picture of the devastation a disappearance leaves in its wake, especially when the presumption is a non-voluntary disappearance linked to a possible crime. The people, loved ones, who are left behind become living fatalities of the same crime. It’s one thing knowing and dealing with the aftermath. It’s quite another to never know and to spend the rest of your life trying to find out what happened, to be able to lay their bones to rest.
It never goes away and it crushes those left behind – the thought of what they went through and that the victim still belongs to the perpetrator because they are the only person who knows what happened. It’s all about power and the power of suggestion, and how the imagination is often a bigger weapon against ourselves than the actual truth.
This is definitely going on my favourite reads of the year list. I can’t wait to recommend it to people.