In the summer of 1977, Terri Jentz and her Yale roommate, Shayna Weiss, make a cross-country bike trip. They pitch a tent in the desert of central Oregon. As they are sleeping, a man in a pickup truck deliberately runs over the tent. He then attacks them with an ax. The horrific crime is reported in newspapers across the country. No one is ever arrested. Both women survive, but Shayna suffers from amnesia, while Terri is left alone with memories of the attack. Their friendship is shattered.
Fifteen years later, Terri returns to the small town where she was nearly murdered, on the first of many visits she will make "to solve the crime that would solve me." And she makes an extraordinary discovery: the violence of that night is as present for the community as it is for her. Slowly, her extensive interviews with the townspeople yield a terrifying revelation: many say they know who did it, and he is living freely in their midst. Terri then sets out to discover the truth about the crime and its aftermath, and to come to terms with the wounds that broke her life into a before and an after. Ultimately she finds herself face-to-face with the alleged axman.
Powerful, eloquent, and paced like the most riveting of thrillers, Strange Piece of Paradise is the electrifying account of Terri's investigation into the mystery of her near murder. A startling profile of a psychopath, a sweeping reflection on violence and the myth of American individualism, and a moving record of a brave inner journey from violence to hope, this searing, unforgettable work is certain to be one of the most talked about books of the year.
Nearly 20 years after being brutally assaulted, Jentz returns to the scene of the crime demanding answers in a crusade that continues for several years. She uncovers the dark secrets of the smalltown Oregon community that kept her alleged attacker from being brought to justice. Angered by the imperfections of the criminal justice system, her efforts have generated this book to make every listener aware of how fragile the system can be. At times, Colin's reading proves engaging and certainly keeps a moderate pace for the prose. Yet occasionally, her tone denotes condescension and arrogance, particularly toward smalltown people, that may not have been Jentz's intention. The text could be making matter-of-fact statements, but Colin's tone twists the meaning. She occasionally fails to vocally clarify when she is speaking in the first person of someone else besides Jentz, who tells her tale entirely in first person. This confusion is usually sorted out after the quote, but the repeated confusion can frustrate the listener. Despite this, Colin does send shivers down listeners' spines when reading Jentz's detailed description of her assault. Simultaneous release with the Farrar, Straus & Giroux hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 27).
Customer ReviewsSee All
Incredible. Courageous and masterfully written. Such beautiful prose to detail such an ugly "event".