No One Else Can Have You
by Katherine Hale
Expected Publishing Date: January 7, 2014
Length: 384 pages
Obtained Via: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is no way influenced my final opinion of the work.
Format Read In: E-ARC
View from the Traffic Light:
Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 688) is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.
Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary (which Ruth’s mother had asked her to read in order to redact any, you know, sex parts), sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer.
No One Else Can Have You was an intriguing book, but in the end, I don’t think I was the reader for it. There were a few things I really liked, but far more that just didn’t seem to click or work for me. No One Else Can Have You seemed to walk the tightrope between being a serious murder mystery and being a quirky and zany book that just happened to have a murder mystery in it, and the identity and heart of the book never really became clear to me.
No One Else Can Have You is set in the rural small town of Friendship, Wisconsin, and takes its name as an order. People are pleasant, flannel-wearing, and don’t talk about the bad things anymore than they have to. So when Ruth Fried is murdered in a quite horrific way, the town is eager to put the first suspect available behind bars and put it all behind them. Enter Kippy, who was Ruth’s best friend. Kippy’s not convinced that the kid behind bars is the actual murderer, so with the encouragement of Davey, Ruth’s brother who is recently home from war with part of a finger missing, the two of them set out to find out what really happened to Ruth. The events that happen and the people they meet along the way are . . . strange, to say the least.
I did really like Kippy as the narrator of this story–she’s so quirky but determined and a bit strange, but in a way that is shown to be compelling. Well, I’m not sure I like Kippy so much as I’m fascinated by her. I probably would not like her in real life, but in fiction? Yes, please, I would LOVE more narrators like Kippy. The dialogue and writing are zippy, I’ll give Hale that. It’s not the writing that I had a problem with in this book–in fact, all the hallmarks of a good book are there. Unfortunately, it didn’t click with me.
The plot was also just so-so. Perhaps I’m just good at guessing, but I was 90% of who the murderer was as soon as that character was introduced. With that mystery gone, No One Else Can Have You didn’t really stand up on it’s own. The rest of the story played out pretty predictably, with lots of zany adventures thrown in(but those had their own problems, as I’ll talk about below).
I didn’t find this book “darkly funny” as was hyped. I have a pretty dark & dry sense of humor some times, which is why I thought this book would be for me, but I found nothing particularly funny, and somethings decidedly not. It’s not quite a big of a deal as the whole murderer being so predictable, at least for me, but it definitely didn’t help. I sort of expected more of that, based upon the cover, which I LOVE.
In fact, some of the things that are played for humor I found mildly offensive at best and disgusting at worse. I just can’t get behind a book that makes light of abuse, plays around with mentally ill characters for a laugh, and very serious issues as subjects worth making fun of. I find myself recoiling more than once. I can’t go along with domestic abuse being played for laughs or PTSD trauma.
I thought No One Else Can Have You was okay. The plot was really predictable in my opinion and I found some of the characters problematic, but then some others really engaging. I think Hale writes dialogue really well and the book moved at a pretty clipped pace, but something just didn’t quite work for me personally, though I think it was more a matter of me not being the reader for this book. It’s NOT a typical mystery by any means so if that’s what you’re looking for maybe check it out. 2/5 cupcakes.