THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Chris Loken


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A story of rape, murder and psychosis set in a small Wisconsin town, by the author of Come Monday Morning (1974), that ranges from the pedestrian to the hopelessly stilted. When coed Linda Lou Craig disappears in the wee hours of New Year's Day, 1977, her next-door boyfriend Bill Brown is suspect number one. But no shred of physical evidence can be found by the hard-working police to shake the blanket denials of squeaky-clean, intensely religous Bill. Over the next two years several more women disappear, and as the police effort to snare Bill intensifies, the good boy next door finally slips up and is witnessed leaving the scene of an assault and attempted rape of a young girl and her little brother. Hauled into jail, Bill is subjected to intense psychological scrutiny that reveals the evil underside of his personality: savagely repressed Oedipal passions once resulted in a period of incest with his younger sister, and, later, in his brutal violations and murders of the missing women. Bill took these actions while in the grip of psychotic attacks, of which the ""good"" Bill had no memory when freed from their grip. Broken open, Bill confesses to his crimes and leads investigators and police to the bodies of his victims. The author intends this to be a searching study of madness bred in the repressive bosom of mid-America, but he misses this target by an embarrassingly wide margin. He fails to build a compelling plot, and never brings to life the town, the victim's families, or the character and family of Bill Brown himself We are continually given numbing clich‚s to describe Bill's hideously deformed personality: ""a coiled spring,"" ""'Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,'"" etc. And has any other author ever written that sunlight ""fumbled"" over a character's face?

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Dodd, Mead