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Living Dead Girl

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  220 Ratings  ·  45 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 re
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Soho Crime (first published 2002)
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Mandy Crider
Sep 28, 2015 Mandy Crider rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 14, 2015 Rossy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Paul and his ex wife may have killed their daughter. Maybe they didn't(?)
Now, ex wife is missing and Paul may have killed her. Or maybe not (?)
Paul is mentally unstable and has blackouts, so, did he hurt his wife? Where is she?
I liked the plot, I liked truly not knowing where ex wife was, and I do like a great deal of psychological intrigue, but some things were kind of implausible for me, I couldn't connect with any of the characters, especially Paul (ugh, I hated Paul), and his never ending i
May 15, 2016 Bandit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the sort of book that I personally liked very much, but due to the heaviness of the subject matter and general bleakness it would be tough to recommend. Suffice to say you have to be in the mood for it. And yet, if you are, this tale of love and madness might resonate for you. It's exceptionally well written, Goldberg utilizes sparse prose to great effect, the economy of words only maximizes the emotional wallop. The basic plot is a man comes to investigate the disappearance of his estra ...more
Dec 08, 2008 Jacquelyn rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 28, 2011 Jaime rated it really liked it
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
Jan 02, 2013 Jody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 26, 2014 Bart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense-fiction
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.
Aug 22, 2013 Susan rated it it was ok
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.
Apr 17, 2016 Jay rated it it was amazing
In the beginning of 1CLiving Dead Girl, 1D Tod Goldberg 19s anthropology professor protagonist, Paul Luden, is driving his gregarious cutie-pie girlfriend up from a rental car towards an isolated lake deep in the woods of Washington state. She is taking in the changing autumn colors and the smoky taste of damp wood, formulating her ideas out loud for an original screenplay she 19s been thinking about for a long time, like something out of 1CDelieverance, 1D or a David Lynch movie, she say ...more
Mar 29, 2011 Cassidy rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lukasz Pruski
Nov 22, 2013 Lukasz Pruski rated it it was ok
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
Sep 15, 2016 Teresa rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
This book was horrendous. Please no.
Apr 06, 2015 Shelley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Lesly Mejia
May 04, 2014 Lesly Mejia rated it really liked it
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
Nov 19, 2012 Linda rated it it was ok
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
Jul 22, 2014 Kristin rated it liked it
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.
Peter Atkinson
Oct 09, 2013 Peter Atkinson rated it liked it
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).
Apr 08, 2015 Tracy rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 02, 2013 Rose rated it liked it
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??
Kate Maruyama
Nov 13, 2012 Kate Maruyama rated it really liked it
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.
Todd Janko
Dec 16, 2012 Todd Janko rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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.
Rob Cohen
Feb 12, 2013 Rob Cohen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rachael Cudlitz
May 25, 2015 Rachael Cudlitz rated it liked it
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.
Dec 01, 2011 Terri rated it it was amazing
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.
Laura Cococcia
May 30, 2009 Laura Cococcia rated it it was amazing
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:
Michele Coleman
Dec 27, 2012 Michele Coleman rated it liked it
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.
Jun 22, 2007 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
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.
Jul 26, 2008 Kristen rated it liked it
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.
Aug 08, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 18, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was ok
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.
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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.
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