Review: “Bloody Bloody Apple,” Howard Odentz

Pros: Fascinating story and great characters
Rating: 5 out of 5

I first encountered Howard Odentz’s writing in Little Killers. I absolutely loved the book, so I decided to look at Bloody Bloody Apple next. In Apple, everyone fears the Fall season. Every year several people die in terrible ways, and it’s been going on for so many years that the town sort of accepts it now. Everyone wants their kids in before dark, and they watch their kids like hawks, but it doesn’t stop the killings from happening. Each one is different, and each one is horrible. It’s contributed to a malaise that affects so many families. Abuse, lack of emotion, near-catatonia, obsessions–it’s a town in decay.

Every Fall, when the orchards ripen and the leaves begin to die, there are murders. We know it, and we accept it. It’s the price we pay for living in Apple, Massachusetts.

The relationships depicted in this tale are beyond dysfunctional. Jackson takes care of his entire family in his own ways. His grandfather isn’t particularly mobile, his mother is in such a deep funk she barely speaks, his father spends all his time carving crucifixes, and his sister Becky lives chained in the basement, seeing as she seems to be possessed by something unspeakable. (She even knows how many killings there will be this Fall). People are ensconced too deeply in dealing with their problems to simply run away. The place has a sort of gravity to it that keeps people there. There is a lot of objectification of women, but I felt it was appropriate to the characters and events, rather than a glimpse into the author’s mind.

Speaking of relationships and people, I love that in the relationship between Jackson and his semi-girlfriend Annie, she’s the one who’s from the “wrong side of the tracks.” In almost every other story it’s the guy who has the bad-boy rep and zip code.

Things have been going on like this for I think 60 years, so it’s actually believable that people lock their doors and semi-accept what’s going to happen. Especially since this is a small, isolated town that doesn’t exactly have a state-of-the-art police department.

Murder just happens here.

I loved this tale, and now I need to find more Odentz stories!

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