Book Review: Let Flowers Be Flowers
Reviewed by Timothy Thomas
A multi-threaded novel that places you in the mind of a killer and dares you to question their motives in light of their trauma
Like the first drop of cold water to a parched throat, this novel’s dark and introspective opener is at first shocking—featuring a child’s inner musings on violence and death—but it eerily sets the tone for what is to come.
Author Daniel Rehm’s thriller is an examination of the consequences surrounding neglect and trauma in childhood that, unprocessed, can bring out the worst in people. It’s a question of whether unacknowledged inner demons will all become outer demons.
Let Flowers Be Flowers is largely told in 3 parts, the first of which has the aforementioned child as its subject. Unnamed, the child’s life is conveyed via stream of consciousness, detailing his family’s dysfunction and the isolation he experiences that results in the adoption of abnormal and, sometimes, dangerous coping methods.
After a revealing and unpredictable climax (you’ll know it when you get there), the story leaves childhood behind and introduces a group of recreational bow hunters who encounter tragedy upon their annual hunting trip.
Unbeknownst to them, they are being watched by another inhabitant of the forest known simply as the Hunter, whose actions attract national interest and, more importantly, that of the local game warden, who decides to take a vacation following federal intervention in the case. In the final portion of the story, the warden’s journey is told parallel to the Hunter’s; their paths finally cross, leading to a twisting revelatory conclusion.
This book can be summarized as conceptually appealing and bewildering, respectively. Here’s what I mean. The overall plot of the story is intriguing, and in its finest moments are captivating and startling. Straightforward in its approach to the more sinister aspects of its story without appeals to the supernatural, Let Flowers Be Flowers’s willingness to explore the darkness in humanity and the ways malicious behavior as internally justified is one of its greatest strengths. Placing the reader directly in the mind of the various characters helps to convey this by grounding their actions in their respective experiences.
This last point is also partially responsible for the story’s more bewildering elements. In the story that focuses on the hunting party, the perspective jumps between characters so often that it can take away from some of the immersion of the story, even adversely affecting the pacing at times. Some points of the larger story seem somewhat disconnected too, as there can be few or no links between them. For example, we’re left curious of what happened to the child who had been the focal point of the first part of the story (though reasonable assumptions can be made regarding his fate).
Those components are far from being a dealbreaker though. I’d be glad to recommend this book to its audience. Casual and avid thriller fans will find plenty to enjoy in Let Flowers Be Flowers.
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Print Length: 508 pages
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