More than twenty-four hours after finishing Idaho, I’m still trying to figure it out. At the heart of the book is a murder mystery. From the get-go we know who committed the murder, but the question that kept me reading is why. This is never answered. Likewise a child who went missing when the murder occurred. She is not the murderer; we know that. But waiting for her to show up kept me reading as well. She never does.
Honestly? I felt used.
And yet the prose in this book is beautiful. The author is clearly skilled. She has an MFA in creative writing, currently teaches it, and has been associated with renowned writing programs. Her skill is apparent in descriptions of the setting, the minds of the central characters, the minds of the minor characters, even the mind of a bloodhound that is used to track the missing child.
Did I need to know about the bloodhound? No! Did it add to the plot? No! It was a major intrusion in the flow of said plot, included, I assume, simply to highlight the author’s gift of description.
So Ruskovich is a skilled wordsmith. She is not as skilled a novelist. Time-wise, she flips back and forth in ways that detract from the plot. She touches on an issue like memory that then, like the mysteries, goes nowhere.
I’ve vacillated in rating this book, three stars to two and back. I finally left it at three because of the prose. That said, if you want plot and satisfaction, you might be happier with something else.