The plot revolves around a series of brutal murders done by different teen boys over a span of twenty-five years. The first murder was done by Charlie Crabtree, a teenage friend of Paul's. The murder destroys the town, especially since Charlie disappears right after the murder. This sets in motion a series of events which end up affecting Paul's life when he returns. While dealing with his mother's dementia, he realizes she not only kept secrets from him, but he wonders if his mother, and now him, are being haunted by Charlie, and if Charlie actually did what he had tried to do when they were teenagers.
The characters in this novel were not badly written, although at times Paul was annoying in his indifference to his mother. He is in town to be with her when she dies and to say goodbye, but he doesn't really seem to be with her enough throughout the book, instead he wallows in his own self pity of what happened when he was a teenager. He should have spent more time with his mother, and he should have really stopped wallowing in his own feelings. I would have also like a little more from Detective Amanda and Jenny. Both were dynamic female characters, and both could have been more than what they were, Amanda especially since she is important to the story.
That being said, I didn't hate this book.
There were some spots in the novel that I thought could have been removed, and it took too long going through some of the childhood issues Paul had with his friends Charlie, Billy, and James. I don't think we needed as much of the exposition we got about their dynamics. What we did need was a little more about how Charlie behaved, and the dynamics between him and Paul. However, that being said, there were several surprises, and I found two of them to actually be surprising. One of them actually "took me off guard." I did not see it coming, and was not only surprised, but a little sad. I think this first twist was awesome, and then there were several others. Only one of them worked for me, and I felt all of them together were a little much.
I also enjoyed how this novel ended. It wasn't the fright fest that I was expecting, and the main character behaved in a supremely annoying way towards the police (it seemed unnecessary), but the way almost everything closed up was well done. It also left me questioning if there would be a part two because there was a least one huge arm left hanging out there, and the internet never forgets.