This is the entry for the “Free!” square in bingo. I borrowed it 🙂
This was a really fun book to read. Horribly depressing subject matter, but there were some twists and turns. I won’t say the mystery is impenetrable as it becomes fairly clear about halfway through, but the way the events unfold is very interesting.
Matt Pine is a student at NYU who is dealing with the aftermath of a true crime documentary about his brother, Danny Pine, and the murder of Danny’s girlfriend. Danny was convicted for the murder with spotty evidence and a very obviously coerced confession. When he’s contacted by the FBI, he assumes that it’s about his brother. Unfortunately, the rest of his family – his father, his mother, his sister, and his youngest brother – have been found dead in Mexico, where they were taking a spring break vacation.
Matt has to go to Mexico to claim the bodies, but events between New York and Tulum and Nebraska (where his family is originally from) cause FBI agent Keller to take a closer look. It seems the family didn’t die peacefully from a gas leak, but rather, they were murdered. And it could be related to Danny’s alleged crime.
There are many interesting aspects to the story, but the thing it made me think about is the aftermath of the innumerable true crime documentaries that are out there. I am a fan of true crime, and I watch the documentaries and judge the participants, but I don’t always think about how these are real people living real lives in real places. Reading about the dynamics of this fictional family and the consequences faced by them, their small town, the law enforcement officers, the lawyers, the victims, the suspects, and the people who feel they have a right and an investment in these strangers made me think more carefully about these things.
Especially in the era of streaming, people discover and rediscover these shows all the time, so in the past when it might have been featured on 20/20 and caused a stir for a couple of weeks, now it is constant.
In addition to being entertaining, this book has encouraged me to be more considerate of the real people who are affected by the true crime entertainment industry.