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Living Dead Girl

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  176 ratings  ·  38 reviews
After his estranged wife disappears, a husband returns to the remote lake house where their young daughter died, and he soon loses his grip on reality.

Paul Luden has been haunted by a memory he can't recall. Whatever happened to his marriage, to his two-year-old daughter, is too traumatic to remember, so his unconscious has chosen to block out key details. But when he rec
Published October 16th 2012 by Soho Crime (first published 2002)
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It is hard to recommend a book that you know is going to make the reader uncomfortable. It came to my attention by an expert in the field of book talking. She was offering titles that might appeal to young adults, but are not traditionally thought of as teen titles. Those of any age who like books about mental illness or about those who have not always made the best decisions will enjoy this offering. From the beginning chapters, one is allowed into the mind of this troubled man and taken on his ...more
There are few more disturbing books that I've read. I felt insane myself by the end and my mind is still swimming. I feel like the addiction this man has to his missing wife is the same addiction the reader feels for this book, it's more than a page-turner, it quite literally sucks the reader in.

This book is about a man's journey to find his missing ex-wife with his 19-year old girlfriend in tow. His mind is fragmented and the reader sees the story through this disturbed mind. All of the lives
Wow. I picked up this book because the author has a fantastic podcast, Literary Disco (, and I was curious. It turns out to be a literary thriller at its page-turning best. I don't want to write too much for fear of spoilers, but it is a story that draws you in, lets you think you have some grasp of what's going on and then slowly reveals that really, you (and the main character) have no idea. Good stuff.
Lesly Mejia
I didn't know what to expect from this book. I found it in a book fair and it seemed interesting enough, so I picked it up. When I began reading it, I wasn't very excited. It's just not the type of novel I usually read.
At first, it was quite confusing, but also interesting. The mystery of the plot made me want to find out what happened and why. Also, the subjects it talks about, such as anthropology and mental diseases, and the complexity of its characters, made it even more gripping. The author
I guess you can say almost all of my reviews would include something like "This book made me feel in ways I can't even explain and more." But truer words have never been said before.

The first time I saw this book, I knew I wanted to have it. It doesn't really suit the books I've been reading lately but I knew, for sure, I wanted to read it. Too bad I had to sacrifice it. Too bad I had to hand it for someone else to buy. I've been regretting that decision ever since.

But this book. THIS BOOK. Th
It was written from the perspective of an anthropologist (Paul) suffering from dissociative disorder. It was pretty fragmented storyline, mostly since it was told from his point of view. Though interesting, it was difficult to follow and made it hard to connect with Paul. I am most definitely not a science-minded person and I had a hard time following or even caring about his anthropology observations. Overall, not a bad read, but you have to be patient and let the story unfold in it's own time.
Lukasz Pruski
Mystery authors have the right to follow whatever narrative style they like, but then the readers have the right not to like the style chosen. This is the case with my reception of Tod Goldman's "Living Dead Girl". In this novel the narrator has all information already at the very beginning of the plot, yet the information for the reader is carefully rationed so that we are allowed to learn little by little about what happened in the past, and it is only by the end of the novel that we finally a ...more
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I read this book in two sittings. After reading it, I still am confused by Paul (the main character in the book). What was wrong with him? I didn't understand half of the things the author wrote about (evolution, being formed...etc...). Whatever Paul had wrong with him was confusing. I was interested in what happened to Molly, that was why I kept reading. It was an easy read, so I continued. However, I did not like half the characters. Not a big fan of this book. Just FYI.
Rachael Cudlitz
IF the book ended on a differently I would have given it 4 stars. Why? Because what could have been a trip into the mind of a mentally ill person turned into a cheap murder mystery with a gotcha ending. Well written. Exhausting to read. The ending cowardly. The writer didn't trust the story and as a reader I feel cheated.
A little gem of a book. This goes way beyond genre fiction -- particularly so for the disappearance sub-genre of the larger suspense genre -- to make a claim to real literary status.

And it packs an extra little kick at the end with a better "twist" than its literary ambitions would lead many authors even to attempt.
Fascinating narrative style, where half the mystery is finding your way through the narrator's insanity and then trying to figure out if he's ill enough to entirely forget harming his wife. Really enjoyable read, not the usual spoon-fed storyline.
Glad that's over. I'd skip this one if I were you. Tried to see this as the psychological page turner of my fellow Goodreads reviewers. Couldn't get there.

190 pages of depressive narration on Paul Lunden's life spirals as he deals with Dissociative Disorder. Paul looses blocks of time and when he comes out of the fugue doesn't remember what has happened. On his mother's death bed, she tells him she tried to abort him. His young daughter had died, his wife is missing. He cuts himself to feel pai
This book deserves 3.5 stars. The reviews I read on goodreads called it disturbing, and boy is it ever! It’s like standing in quicksand, never sure of my footing or my perspective. But I really enjoyed that effect. In fact , it never felt forced or phony. As i was reading, I wondered if a mentally ill person would go through a similar thought process. What would truth or reality feel like when you just are not sure??
Peter Atkinson
I read the comments of other reviewers: "it sucks you in"; "life seen through a mental illness"; "don't bother"

I enjoyed it, nearly a four star but thought the ending was weak (no clues to spoil it for you), gave it three stars. I did not want to put it down but was not "sucked in" - it is life seen through a mental illness and it is worth reading. (Read in one sitting on a transatlantic flight).
It's mysterious but not very exciting.
Rob Cohen
This one was thoroughly haunting. I felt my own general sense of well-being challenged and questioned, my own stresses magnified to the point where I was eager to finish it just for the sake of not having to delve so deeply into the depression of the characters. A mesmerizing weaving of past and present and the creation of such three dimensional characters that were identifiable.
Paul goes back to Oregon because his wife is missing. They are separated and he is suspected of killing her.

I loved this book. The way the author told the story through Paul's diordered and fractured mind held me enthralled. The emotions and thoughts connected me to the story in a powerful way. And I was actually rather surprised but satisfied at the ending.
Todd Janko
I actually have spoken to Tod Goldberg on a number of occasions (he lived in Vegas and wrote for a local weekly paper there back in the 90's) before his second book came out. Goldberg is excellent with sentence structure; simple, yet defined, almost like Hemingway. Like Coupland, this is another book I need to sit down and re-review.
Kate Maruyama
Stirring and creepy, Goldberg explores the Fantastic in a realistic realm--what is true and what is a product of the narrator's tortured and unreliable mind? It gets creepier toward the end, and rather than relying on manipulative twists, Goldberg ensures each revelation tells us more about everyone involved.
This book didn't do much for me. Mentally ill man and estranged wife may have killed there young daughter, then again, maybe they didn't. And maybe he killed his wife or, maybe he didn't. Takes place in rural Washington State so that's of interest.
Laura Cococcia
One of my Tod Goldberg favorites. His new book, Other Resort Cities, will be out later this year - can't wait. Check out my recent interview with Goldberg at:
I liked "Simplify," his book of short stories, much more. Unreliable narrators can get irritating after a bit, and I think I just wasn't in the mood for a dread book--where every page, you dread what horrible thing might happen next.
Read In the Lake of the Woods instead of this book. The writing style just began grating on my nerves. I just wanted to tell the author to shut up the rambling, wannabe stream of consciousness and get to the point.
Michele Coleman
I was between 3-4 stars on this one. Not sure if I liked the storylieading ne but I could not put it down. It kept you reading trying to figure out where Molly was and what really happened to their daughter.
This is a deep profound mystery of returning to the root of the crime of this man's missing wife and dead daughter, of old memories coming back to the surface, for a quick read of 2 days. Very moving.
Book got a lot of good reviews but I found the never ending monologue of a man trying to come to grips with reality and his place in the universe tiresome.
Here's my blurb:

"Compulsively readable. Full of satisfying unforgettable journey into the primeval forest of the human heart."
Emily Esposito
one of the best murder mysteries I have ever read. Paul was an incredible character, and I loved the way this book was written.
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Tod Goldberg is the author of the novels Living Dead Girl, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Fake Liar Cheat & Burn Notice: The Fix, as well as the short story collection Simplify, winner of the Other Voices Short Story Collection Prize and a finalist for the SCBA Award in Fiction.
More about Tod Goldberg...
Burn Notice: The Fix (Burn Notice, #1) Burn Notice: The End Game (Burn Notice, #2) Gangsterland Burn Notice: The Giveaway (Burn Notice, #3) Fake Liar Cheat

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