Things in Ditches
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A small town’s purveyor of aluminum cans and other things in ditches stumbles upon the fresh corpse of a beautiful woman. This is the story of the obvious crime and the obvious suspect, but in Lake Wobegon gone bad, nothing is as it seems, when the unlikely killer leads a bizarre chase through some of America’s last remaining wilderness toward a double surprise ending.
Mind-bending & brain-twisting mystery!
I received a free print copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
To say that Phillip "Dutch" Cleland has a lot on his plate would be an understatement. After confessing to his wife, Jean, that he had an affair with Vicky Johnson, the couple managed to salvage their marriage and things seem back to normal. However, Vicky is at the forefront of Dutch's mind when he wakes up one morning after a busy night; this is not surprising since he killed Vicky and left her body in a ditch the night before. As Dutch sends Jean off to work and contemplates suicide to avoid being humiliated in front of the residents of his hometown, Willow Run. In the meantime, Ervin "Walleye" Wertz finds Vicky's body as he searches the ditches near Willow Run for discarded treasure.
Willow Run's police chief, Charlie Benson, is called out to search the body for evidence in an effort to find the person who committed such a brutal act. Rather than turning the investigation over to the sheriff, he decides to follow the trail of evidence that leads him to Dutch. However, instead of committing suicide, Dutch has decided to make a run for it. Unfortunately, Charlie is not the only person looking for Dutch; however, he is the only one who is interested in bringing Dutch in alive.
Quirky, small-town characters breathe life into this mind-bending, brain-twisting mystery as readers follow along with the murder investigation that has everyone in this small, Minnesota town talking. Olsen takes us on a scenic tour of Willow Run and the surrounding area as Dutch recalls his affair with Vicky, reflects on the betrayal that led up to his crime of passion, and decides the best course of action to evade his pursuers.
Each character that readers encounter in the book is painstakingly crafted to add color and humor in an otherwise grim, cold, and somewhat morbid setting. Olsen has taken a small town setting and magnified the idiosyncrasies that one might find in a small town to add a sense of surrealism to the plot while guiding us through plot twists and turns that will confound even the most avid of mystery readers as to how the book will end.
I found the ending surprising, despite the fact that one particular piece of evidence kept rising to the surface of Charlie's mind; however, he was unable to follow up on this evidence, and readers do not discover its significance until the very end.
Things in Ditches is definitely one book that I will re-read in the future to see if I missed out on any details that would have led me to the correct conclusion. I am more than happy to recommend this book to mystery readers who are seeking an unconventional and riveting mystery novel.