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The Bookworm Sez: “The Fields: A Novel” by Erin Young

The Bookworm Sez: “The Fields: A Novel” by Erin Young

Have you taken your meds yet today?

Everybody, it seems, is on something or other: pills for blood pressure, heart health, asthma, or chemo. Pills for your eyes. Pills for your bones. Pink ones for aches, red ones for sinus issues, purple ones for stomach problems, and in the new book “The Fields” by Erin Young, some white ones for murder.

She smelled the body long before she saw it.

As Sheriff of Black Hawk County, Iowa, Riley Fisher had seen corpses before but this one really shook her. The dead woman had been nearly ripped apart before she died in an Iowa cornfield, but what bothered Fisher more was that she knew the deceased.

Years before, Riley Fisher had been best friends with Chloe Clark and her little sister, Mia. The girls had been like sisters when the older two had been in high school, but a secret blew them apart and ruined their childhoods. And now, Fisher was looking at her friend, dead.

Who would kill someone as nice as Chloe Clark Miller? And what was she doing in the middle of a cornfield that she didn’t own? Those were two questions that Sheriff Fisher had to know, but others at her workplace had reservations: could Fisher keep her long-ago friendship with the dead woman out of the equation?

And then another body was found nearby, mutilated in a way that was similar, and with a few more clues. It was unlikely that the two dead women knew one another, but Chloe’s husband might’ve known more than he was telling. Some down-on-their-luck local addicts talked about a white van that had been seen snatching people off the street, while others whispered about a “terrorist” organization that was working against an incumbent politician with ties to a powerful corporate seed company. Then a teenage girl went missing, her mother disappeared, and the sister of a Black Hawk County farmer couldn’t be found.

And neither could Sheriff Fisher’s niece…

For fans of thrillers, “The Fields” has everything you want: some twists and switches, a little angst, a couple of McGuffins, and some perfectly gruesome corpses.

But there are some things that are going to rankle you, too.

First, there are too many characters inside this book – at least twenty names to remember, some of which are just outside the main circle but are nonetheless important. The “secret” that riles Riley Fisher ekes out slower than an ice melt in January, and once it’s (finally!) revealed, it’s pretty tame – especially when that thread is up against the four much bigger plots that weave inside this one book. All that leaves readers with the feeling of being surrounded by five stages, different plays, same characters. You scarcely know where to look next.

You can look for “The Fields” – indeed, author Erin Young adds authenticity to her location and the solving – but the tornado of plots and characters are really pretty overwhelming. You might enjoy the excitement of this book, or it might be too much to swallow.

“The Fields: A Novel” by Erin Young
c.2022, Flatiron Books
352 pages