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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

THINGS IN DITCHES by Jimmy Olsen Review

Title: Things in Ditches
Author: Jimmy Olsen
Release date: December 28, 2000
Rating: 5/5
Publisher: North Star Press
Book Summary:
A murder mystery novel. The story of Phillip "Dutch" Cleland, a man with a hidden past and a future about to explode in his face. A seemingly average man whose love for two women drives him to such extremes that deception, even murder and suicide are not longer unthinkable.   

When a lovely corpse is discovered near Dutch's home town, the nearby ditches begin to yield a harvest of secrets, none of them comforting for Dutch. Soon he is forced to flee for his life, before his past and the police slip a noose around his neck.

Things In Ditches is peopled with small town characters that are so humorous and eccentric, their oddball antics enliven every paragraph and page. A reader can't help but be reeled in by the strange citizens of Willow River, until soon discovering they're really not so different from all of us and Dutch's story is the oldest story on earth; good and evil, betrayal and laughter. And finally, the power of love and friendship, forging one man's determination to overcome all odds, even death.
Review: 

Warning! There are some spoilers!
Marlene came in carrying a candle.
"Ah, Lady Macbeth!" he sighed with great drama. "Whyfore did he kill her now after all these leagues?"
"League is a distance, dope, not a time," she said pouring hot candle wax into a puddle beside him."
Chapter 15, page 159.

Things in Ditches is written in third person past and follows the life of Dutch Cleland, the Butcher of Willow River.

Dutch Cleland is a lying, cheating, sneaky rat, and above everything else, the murderer of his mistress, Vicky Murdock, whom he loved with all his heart. Was it that love that ultimately got her killed?

In a small town like Willow River, stealing is unheard of and murder, even less. Cleland, unable to commit suicide, runs off into hiding, leaving Jean to face the music of his murder of which he detailed in a little note left in the kitchen. But on his way to pick up some food from his butcher shop, he's held up and things for him start getting much, much worse. Whatever Dutch thought he could save of his future was thrown down the drain.

Like most small towns, people start to talk. Gossip circles suddenly have something to talk about and the only name in the mix is Dutch's. He grows into the star of Willow River and news coverage on the little town explodes. What the newscasters don't know, however, is that the body is suddenly missing.

It becomes a race to who can find Dutch first: Len Davis, the lawyer, Carroll Johnson and Murdock, Vicky's husbands, Sherriff Mattson, the Sherriff of the county, or Charlie, the police chief of Willow River.

Who will find him first? Will Dutch ever go back to the home he loved so much?

Jimmy Olsen brings the world of Willow River to life with beautifully crafted sentences and very real dialogue. I felt like I was experiencing what was going on. I was completely lost in this book and would gasp out loud in the middle of class. I had never read a murder mystery before this one, but now I think I may start picking some up. It was humorous, dark, and wonderful. I found myself unable to put it down. Each character was very well-rounded. 

I think my favorite characters may have been Jean. I say Jean, because she was a very strong female character. She didn't let things get to her and she certainly didn't let Dutch destroy her. Jean fought against Murdock and Carroll and although she was shaken up, she didn't let it bring her down. She is an extremely powerful character, that I enjoyed very, very much.

I promise I'm not going to spoil anything, but the ending really made me frustrated and mad. I saw part of it coming, because he does have foreshadowing to it, but I did not see the huge twist that he left behind. I complained to probably every one, and I think that's probably a good thing. I didn't see part of it coming. Then I read the epilogue and I think that made me angrier both because I saw it was coming, and because I didn't see it coming. I really felt involved in this book.

I've even recommended it to my AP Literature teacher!

Thank you, Jimmy Olsen, for sending me a copy of this book!
M.A.Chase

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