**spoiler alert** The Little Girl Who Lived Down The Lane is a brooding and macabre story, filled with the sense of impending danger. It also has an e**spoiler alert** The Little Girl Who Lived Down The Lane is a brooding and macabre story, filled with the sense of impending danger. It also has an eerie sense of precocius cleverness almost until the very end. It is a creepy novel and a solid one at that, filled with revelations and implications that will long stick with you after the book is over. It is very good.
As it opens, a teenage girl is alone and preparing to celebrate her birthday, complete with glowing candles and the mounting chords of a Liszt concerto. Before she can progress with the solo festivities, the young girl is interrupted by a much older man at the door. Among many things, he enquires where her father is as the pair insist on living a reclusive lifestyle. She gives a simple answer that yes her father is present, however he is currently busy with work. Or he is out of town. Either makes for a sufficient reason. The man has his doubts about this answer, and as the story gradually develops, so do we.
Most of the details, but not all, become clear. Rynn is highly precocius and has a strong independent spirit and a resourceful streak. Her father, referred to often but never seen, is a poet who took it upon himself to instill in his daughter the capability of fending for herself. And Rynn has many ways of protecting herself and her homestead. And, once the haughty landlord Mrs. Hallett and her ill-intentioned adult son Frank meet the young girl, the story seems to become a combination of a fairy tale and a suspenseful mystery novel. The story could have easily become forced at this attempt, but Koenig stylishly brings the two together with some sentiment and insight.
Mrs. Hallett and Frank are essentially the wicked stepmother and big bad wolf figures in this story. There individual suspicions of Rynn are hinted at in many ways, and they all amount to this: that Rynn really is on her own and could make for easy pray for Frank, while Mrs. Hallett knows full well the repercussions of this and feels the need to neutralize the situation before the girl starts any trouble.
Koenig does something else that's effective as he introduces an element of reality. Here he arranges for Rynn to come across two ordinary and well-meaning people, Officer Miglioriti and his teenaged nephew Mario. Mario appears to be the first boy similar in age to Rynn with whom she can become emotinally invested in; indeed, this is possibly her first encounter in which she actually sets personal and social ties with people who live "regular" lives, and it brings a sense of strangeness and unfamlairity to her situation. This touch of reality brings into focus how peculair her life has been.
By thus far into the story, the reader can consider how hard it is to be Rynn. You have apparently never had close relations with anyone your own age. You have never blended in with other people. You are a highly intellectual teenage girl. You have a strong knowledge for classical music and ways of preserving corpses. Your dad was your only guide into the real world, rife with influence and preconceived notions, and you have yet to be given the opportunity to explore and build your own opinions about this same world. The world is essentially both a dangerous and wonderous place, with big bad wolves and noble heroes, and wit and resourcefulness is your only weapon.
The best thing that can be said about this story, I think, is that it works. Koenig took a difficult situation and made it believable. He exercises his craft so well that we follow Rynn right up to the end, serving the tea and cookies and waiting for that next move... ...more
Helter Skelter is a diamond in the proverbial rough that is the true crime genre, based on one of the most twisted and riveting murder sprees of our tHelter Skelter is a diamond in the proverbial rough that is the true crime genre, based on one of the most twisted and riveting murder sprees of our time. Bugliosi's retelling is bone-chilling without becoming bogged down by graphic imagery and gore, and he also provides a serious indictment of shoddy investigative skills by the LAPD at the time (!). Helter Skelter is the quintessential true crime book that will scare the bejeezus out of you long after you've completed it - it's been four years since I've read it and I still wake up from the occasional nightmare about 'creepy-crawling missions.' ...more