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so who did it?

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Marina Who do you think killed Hannah? Was it the father? The gardner?

Lilly I thought the gardner was just a red herring throughout, just a teen fantasy. But if it was the father, wouldn't he have shown SOME sign of being upset that she died? He did, after all, have an affair with her all those years ago. There is so much going on in this novel (but it was beautiful even with the confusing plotlines). I get dizzy trying to figure it out!

Christine So effing confusing, and though I love all of Blues references and asides, they do get a little distracting and both times I've read this now I just start skimming over them when I'm hungry for the plot.

Perhaps Dad did kill her, and I think he could have done it without showing anything, considering the supreme falsehood of the rest of his life...

What an awesome character. I love Dad - he's hilarious!

message 4: by Christine (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:34AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Christine Upon finishing my second reading of this, I think there's no way for us to know who did it. And it certainly wasn't the Dad. Like they did with Smoke and the other CEOs mentioned during Blue's research, the Nightwatchmen specialized in featureless murders that perfectly mirrored suicides or accidents. The killer could have and would have been anyone.

I'm also prone to think, like Lillymonster, that Andreo is a Red Herring.

My Big Question is Why Did They Move to Stockton and Enroll Blue in St. Gallway - the school where Hannah was teaching? Did Dad and Hannah need contact for some reason? If so, it certainly didn't turn out well for anyone.

message 5: by Chuckell (last edited Jan 02, 2008 02:46PM) (new)

Chuckell Huh. So the mystery is never resolved? Makes me ever more glad I gave up on this piece of crap about halfway through, instead of struggling until the end and being bitterly frustrated (see Tokyo Year Zero).

Jessica See, I didn't even remember that we didn't find out for sure. Basically, this book left me not caring at all.

message 7: by reb (new) - rated it 5 stars

reb i actually didn't care either, but not because i didn't like the book but more because it just didn't seem to matter once everything came out. after finishing it, i was more thoughtful about whether or not blue ever heard from her father again and things along those lines.

Diane W. We read this for our book club the past month, and Michael thinks that Blue was the murderer, and that she also may have killed her father.

Did you ever suspect Blue? I did not. Another suggestion, was the campers who had smoked that warm cigarette just before the group and Hannah got there at the campsite. They could have prepped the place for Hannah's suicide.

There was a conclusion that Blue, in any case, would be fine without her father--that contact, if any, would be very minimal from that point of her life on.

Our discussion led to our thoughts about small towns in the U.S. J. had grown up in a small town in Iowa, and she related as to how boring it really was.

Like Christine, halfway through the book, I just began to ignore the literary references and focus on the storyline to get through the book.

Christine, maybe they moved to Stockton, NC, to see Hannah and draw her life into a conclusion. They may have seen that Hannah was following a path they didn't necessarily like. But then again, I didn't read the book that closely to notice.

message 9: by Kt. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kt. Did you guys read the "test" at the end? The author pretty much answered the questions I think. Hannah killed Smoke. Because she did it clumsily and because Smoke's daughter was on to them. Dad had to kill Hannah. I'm guessing he was following her and that is why he made himself know when Hannah took Blue into the forest. Dad disappeared to save Blue. Blue didn't kill anyone. That's my take anyway.

message 10: by Meghan (new) - added it

Meghan I thought it was made pretty clear that Dad didn't kill Hannah, but WAS associated with the Nightwatchmen. It's made explicit that he preferred to be the planner rather than the hatchet-man, etc, and he goes on at length about the acts men will commit that blur the line between 'good' and 'evil...in typical Dad fashion, he doesn't think PLOTTING is evil in and of itself... just the execution.

I think they moved for Blue's senior year because Gracey knew Hannah was close to being caught, and she had to be eliminated, so Dad was tasked with keeping track of her. Hannah *helped* kill Smoke, along with other partygoers (this is outlined literally step by step in the book). As the book went on, sheh learned that she was close to being found out, and also knew she might be killed by the Nightriders so planned to flee, but an unnamed assassin stepped in and murdered her.

As for Andreo... who cares? He may have been associated with the Nightwatchmen. It would certainly explain why he showed up at HER house bleeding (not because of her but because he'd failed on a Nightwatchmen mission and was looking to a brother for help). Otherwise, it's a random red herring, and the book, while imperfect, isn't random.

I don't think the test is meant to be a set of answers, but rather a set of leading questions that allow the reader to form a variety of sets of conclusions.

Harmony I thought that the open-ending of the book reflected the conversation Blue related having with her father about that Italian movie (L'Avenntura ??). Dad said that Americans can't handle open-endings that demand that they actually think. They (we) like everything to be wrapped up neatly. So it's funny that some of us are pissed off at the ambiguous ending.

Harmony Also, I don't think that Dad killed Hannah.

I did wonder, though, if that guy who worked at the gas-station was one of the Nighwatchmen. I liked his character.

Christine Yes, I like the idea that they moved to Stockton to "take care" of the Hannah problem. Thanks for that, Di.

I wasn't bothered by the "open ending." I rather like having something to chew on afterwards, instead of being spoon-fed a set of conclusions, etc.

Like Reb, by the end I was so wrapped up in the story and the sudden twist of the father's involvement in the Nightwatchmen I wasn't bothered by some of the "loose ends - like Andreo.

There is simply so much in the book it could easily have been two books. I am curious about what Pessl will publish next.

Shelly i'm glad i found this discussion b/c i didn't get much out of this book but now I am inspired to give it another read. i had forgotten all about Hannah's murder and Blue's dad because all those literary references and all of Blue's crew's sassy Juno style dialog left a bad taste in my mouth. i thought the author was being a bit self-indulgent (via Blue) in some parts. but now i'm remembering the book did draw me in no matter how annoying it could be in spots. and i also recall that Blue's dad was never the "lynchman".
the idea that Blue did it is intriguing so when i read through it again i'll keep that in mind.

Sarah Ashley Simmons I heard the gardener, but I think in the end we aren't supposed to konw. Did Blue's mother commit suicide, or did Hannah and/or Dad plot to kill her? I thought suicide for sure but then my friend said in her book club they thought perhaps the mother was murdered. Mystery is good, absolute confusion- not so much.

Joyce I enjoyed the book a great deal and agree with the post that Dad moved Blue to St. Gallway so that he could keep an eye on the unraveling Hannah. I also think he had Hannah killed but didn't do it.

For me, though, the bigger question was - is it possible to be too smart? Dad educated Blue to be brilliant but he had to know that in the end, that would create a rupture in their relationship, so why did he do that? And if she hadn't been smart, wouldn't he have been horribly disappointed in her?

message 17: by Tina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tina I think that it is best that it was not resolved. It so much fun to try and figure it out for yourself... and I am thinking that Dad for sure had a hand in it. I think that he also had a hand in Smoke. Remember when Blue thought she saw him at the party and then decided that she was going mad. I am pretty sure that he was actually there and was in fact that one that killed Smoke. It would make perfect sense no?

But, in regards to the above. I don't think that it is possible to be too smart. I think it's possible to know too much maybe .... and maybe she just knew too much and he left so he wouldn't have to face what he thought would be her disappointment in him? (she might allude to that, I forget).

Samantha I disliked the father for several reasons, though I did like him at first. I thought that he managed to steal away a normal life for Blue. Being a child that has moved many times while growing up, I can understand how it feels to be uprooted so many times, although my moves were not to the same extent as Blue's.

I hated him for leaving her. I found myself hating him for a lot of things. While in a literary sense he was a good character, in the context of the story and plot I couldn't stand him.

I thought it was Dad who mudered Hannah, however, for the same reasons you list above. His entire life was a lie, so it is a huge possibility.

message 19: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer old conversation, but i just finished reading.

what about blue? we are trusting all her conspiracy theory to be accurate. how do the readers know it's not just craziness. i guess because her dad disappears into thin air and servo is found to be gracey.

i'm just confused upon finishing that book.

message 20: by Nick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nick The murder is the only question that the "Final Exam" leaves murky. It presents the two opposing theories and then has an "open" answer.

I also believe there is one answer, Mrs. Pessl had something in mind when she pinned the story. My theory is:
- I don't think Andreo is a red herring. He shows up at the Walmart. "Dad's" reaction to him is almost the same as his reaction to Hannah. He's pretty monotone when he runs into his own conspiracy.
- We know the dad doesn't like the actual killing. We also know that post Smoke the Nightwatchmen were losing their way. Smoke was a "bad" target.
- I think they moved to Stockton to protect Hannah. Hannah had gone soft and had started up an association with children. A father-and-child team was a perfect match. I think the trip to Paris, given "dad's" sadness as he left, was a plea for Hannah's life.


Hannah has no casket as Blue points out. Blue never asks to see the body. No one sees it. I think Andreo and the "campers" went to kill her but "dad" saved Hannah. I think the Nightwatchmen were in the process of breaking up after Smoke. The two leaders dad/Socrates and Nero post-Paris had an intellectual parting of the ways.

I also agree that the "dad" was a first class ass.

Annie I wonder about the glasses Blue saw in the woods that made Hannah run off to investigate.

I am also intrigued by the gas station attendant. (Did he wear glasses?)

I agree with Harmony's (message 11) thought process regarding the ending, that 'Americans can't handle open-endings that demand that they actually think'.

I really liked this book, but also found myself skimming over some of the literary references.

message 22: by Nick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nick If American's can't handle open-endings the book would not have done so well...in America.

Bashing should be based on at least a modicum of reality.

message 23: by Kt. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kt. Was Annie meaning to bash? I didn't think so.

Annie You are right, Kt. I was not bashing this book nor American readers.

I was simply agreeing with Harmony's point (see message 11) regarding the ending and the question of "so who did it?".

This reader considers DAD SAID that Americans can't handle open-endings that demand that they actually think.

I am also in agreement that this points to the purpose for the open-ending.

And here we are chewing it over! Dad practically dares us to do so.

Harmony Thanks for the defense, Annie! I do think it's an interesting thing that Dad actually raised the idea that American's can't handle open endings and this book with a VERY open ending is so popular in America...

Justin Did anybody here think this book felt a little *too* similar to Donna Tartt's the Secret History?

Libby I think Andreo was definitely a Nightwatchman.
-didn't like working in the Garden when dad wasn't around, because he was probably supposed to be keeping an eye on Blue instead.
-Blue saw him in Paris, thought she was imagining it, but perhaps not.
-Blue saw him at Walmart with stuff in his cart to help him camoflage himself in nature.
-The mask on her dad's costume smelled like Andreo when she found it, so he must have been wearing it at Hannah's party when Smoke was killed.
I'm walking away from this book with the assumption that Andreo killed Hannah (and we know he smokes, but so do lots of people). Perhaps the thick glasses were nightvision goggles as Blue suggested.

message 28: by G. (new) - rated it 4 stars

G. It's funny, because when Istarted reading it I was not taking it as a murder mystery, so the encounter with the gardener was just a funny teen anecdote; seeing him again was another cute little quirk.

Now thinking about it, I reckon it was fun. According to interviews with Ms. Pessl, there is a definite answer but it would be cheating to reveal it... annoying, no?

message 29: by Angi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angi Samantha wrote: "I disliked the father for several reasons, though I did like him at first. I thought that he managed to steal away a normal life for Blue. Being a child that has moved many times while growing up, ..."

I actually just finished the book last night and I got so physically angry at everyone in the book, but mostly her dad. After everything he put her through and then to just up and disappear. Honestly, I think Blue was the only character who I wasn't angry at. I have never had a reaction like that before to a book.

Sarah Maybe Hannah slipped some of her pills to Smoke but they didn't show up in the autopsy. Blue and Nigel saw him go upstairs with her. The Greek man in Paris said that Gareth hid behind a podium. On the other hand Blue thought she saw him at the party. Hannah and Gareth have read some of the same books and both have an interest in film. They may have been close. I wonder if Hannah or Gareth murdered Natasha. Gareth knew to pick up Blue himself the day Natasha wrecked. Hannah is more mechanical than Gareth and may have known how to tamper with a car.

Sarah The cashier at BP isn't involved in either death. Gareth likes him because he is his idea of the common man. The cashier's story about his dad abandoning him mirrors Gareth ditching Blue in one of the following chapters.

Sarah Could Andreo be the Greek man's son? A Greek could pass for Hispanic if he spoke Spanish. Andreo is a man of few words and doesn't do much actual gardening. The Greek man says that his son left school in Mexico and is roaming somewhere in Central America. If Andreo were involved in the Nightwatchmen it might explain why he was shot, fled the hospital and showed in in the same Walmart as Gareth.

Sarah Gareth doesn't know enough about the outdoors to have found Hannah's camping spot and killed her. He wouldn't have killed her with Blue nearby. He tells his students that America needs a facelift not a revolution because he isn't violent.

message 34: by Jaye (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jaye Lilly wrote: "I thought the gardner was just a red herring throughout, just a teen fantasy. But if it was the father, wouldn't he have shown SOME sign of being upset that she died? He did, after all, have an aff..."

Marina wrote: "Who do you think killed Hannah? Was it the father? The gardner? "

i agree, the references were interesting and thought-provoking, till it got to the end where the mystery was being unravelled, and i was just anxious to focus on that, rather than the distracting side references.

message 35: by Jaye (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jaye Christine wrote: "Upon finishing my second reading of this, I think there's no way for us to know who did it. And it certainly wasn't the Dad. Like they did with Smoke and the other CEOs mentioned during Blue's re..."

i believe ms pessl is such a fan of non-conventionality, that she purposefully left us guessing, purposefully left a sense of mystery, because it would have been too conventional for her to tie the ends up neatly

Kimberly I came here to get some insight because honestly, I had no idea...
After reading all of the responses, I do think that Andreo, with the possible assistance of others, killed Hannah. I also think that Gareth was peripherally involved, but not directly responsible for her death. I found Gareth to be completely loathsome, with absolutely no redeeming qualities, as a father or as a man. That said, I don't think he would kill Hannah in such proximity to Blue knowing what an effect that would have on her.
I am interested to read more "whodunit" theories, as this was a fascinating read!

Aaron I think Ms.Pessl gives us a heads up that this book won`t have a ending with everything tied up in a neat little bow.Pages 410-411.Blue mentions the dvd L`Avventura (very scheideresque.Personal premeditation.)The lady in the movie is never found and her disappearance remains a mystery (Much like Hannahs death) but life continues on.Blue dad mentions L`Avventura(Blues dad love all things Italian) He says"has the sort of ellipsis most Amercians would rather undergo a root canal than be left with,not only because they loathe anyting left to the imagination-we`re talking about a country that invented spandex.They KNOW family,They KNOW right and wrong.And the idea none of us can truly know anything at all-not the lives of our friends or family,not even ourselves." Dad then mention he loves those types of endings.I think the dad and Andreo did it together.The glasses(dad),the smoke(Andreo).Dad asked Blue what was the last book to hit him in his face when they had their confrontion was it The Bible or An American Tragedy,"i`d like to know for symbolic purposes." His last words to Blue are "...Wage war on flabby armed,potbellied radicals (Servo?).I don`t think they age all that well,so you`ll probably be able to outrun them."(was dad talking about himself?) and also another clue that it could of been Dad and Andreo,is dads costume Blue finds from Hannahs party and the heavy cologne.Blue mentions on pg36 Andreo wore heavy cologne .

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