Nate's Bookgroup's Reviews > The Way the Crow Flies

The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald
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M 50x66
's review
Jan 03, 2010

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Read in September, 2009


This book was way too long and I think the editor knew it. The very first page is the description of a scene in which a murder is foretold. The next 350 pages of the book is the meandering build up to the murder scene. Ann-Marie MacDonald leads the reader through rooms involving child molestation, international spydom, elementary school quarrels, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Nazi refugees. And written like this, I admit it sounds interesting. But all of those topics are told through the eyes of a 9 year old who doesn't quite understand.

Interspersed through the narrative are occasional jumps to the murder scene, in which the reader gets time to formulate a motive and suspect. The author is very skilled at leading the reader along the wrong path. Too skilled, I'd say, because if this weren't my book group book I would have stopped reading it about 500 pages in thinking that I knew the who/what/where/when. I think the editor felt the same way, otherwise the murder narratives wouldn't be necessary. The plot would just propel you through the evidence of the case.

After the murder was revealed (I was right about who got killed, by the way, thus adding to my "I can see right through this plot" feeling I had), the plot was more solid and focused. I flew through pp. 350 - 600, really really good stuff. Then in the six hundreds somewhere you hit a chapter that reintroduced Madeleine, the lead character, as an adult. You learn of her hinted at lesbianism and the outcome of her parent's marraige after moving from Centralia, Ontario. She's screwed up, she's leaving her girlfriend for another woman. Honestly, I didn't need all this explication.

Round about p. 725, McDonald starts to reapply the circumstantial evidence of the case and the reader learns their assumed culprit had a solid alibi. You read the main characters findings of the case after she starts researching evidence about 30 years after the incident had taken place and find out the true story of that murderous night. Very well done. I was completely wrong about thinking I knew the mystery at p. 200. The clues planted all along the way that the obvious suspect was not the killer are perfectly fitting in hindsight. Really beautifully told, I just wish I hadn't had to wade through 400 pages of red herrings to find out I was wrong.
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09/17/2016 marked as: read

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Marilyn I appreciate your spoiler alert.

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