Book Review: Point Roberts

Alexander Rigby

Rating: 2 out of 5.

published: 1st February 2021
spoilers? yes


Five strangers forge an unlikely alliance to uncover the identity of the infamous Point Roberts Slayer.

On a peculiar peninsula in Washington State, the small town of Point Roberts exists in the shadow of the fifteen people who were murdered here. Surrounded by water and a giant wall that spans its border with Canada, Point Roberts has been cut off from the rest of the world every February for the past twenty-seven years in an attempt to stop a brutal serial killer from striking again. Because the murders took place exclusively during February three years in a row, closing down the town seemed like the only way to stop the slayings. And so far . . . it has worked.

Except the decades-old cold case remains unsolved, and the residents of Point Roberts are beginning to question if there’s an ulterior motive behind the mayor’s enforced lockdowns. After a brazen seventeen-year-old orphan named Liza moves to town, a new February begins. At first, she knows nothing of the murders, but that quickly changes when she finds a mysterious book titled The Fifteen—a book that shares shocking details on the killings.

Determined to discover the identity of the Point Roberts Slayer, Liza teams up with four other misfits who all hold secrets and have personal connections to the victims. These five strangers will have to work together to uncover the truth, if only they can stay out of the murderer’s destructive path so they don’t become victims themselves.

Point Roberts is a love letter to the moody Pacific Northwest, an intricate portrait of complex characters building walls to protect their fragile hearts, and, at its core, a profound story of embracing chosen family and walking with them into the foggy unknown.

Galley provided by publisher

Point Roberts is a perfectly good mystery novel. It’s creepy and great at ratcheting up the tension, but it’s also a novel that I just didn’t click with. I think the problem, as it is most times, was that I was expecting something just a bit different from what I got.

Point Roberts is a town that shuts down every February, no one allowed in or out, because of the Point Roberts Killer, a serial murderer who terrorised the town and killed fifteen people. But when the mayor shut the town down, those murders stopped and now it has become something of a tradition, or superstition. This February, however, is the first time Lisa has experienced it, so she decides to find out who really killed all those people, with the help of four others. In doing so, she’ll attract someone’s attention that she really doesn’t want.

Firstly, I have to say this whole book was just somewhat melodramatic. It felt like Scooby-Doo on steroids. You had to seriously suspend your disbelief to read it. Which was fine, I could do that, but it meant I was not that into the book. I mean, every character was basically a caricature, right down to the evil self-serving mayor and the members of a cult, so that, when it’s revealed who did it, you’re just like… well of course it was them. And don’t get me started on the reason behind it all.

Actually you may as well get me started on it, since the reveal is my next talking point. If you don’t want even the vaguest of spoilers, skip to the next paragraph. The murderer is described as “bipolar” and “schizophrenic”, while also locking her daughter away in the basement, because she wants no one to know she has a daughter, because her daughter keeps having seizures. So she kills fourteen people who happen to find out she does have a child. What’s worse? That she murders people so no one will find out she has a disabled child? Or that she herself is described using mental illnesses that are absolutely nothing to do with what just seems to be psychopathy? Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are almost laughably different from how they’re often characterised in literature and this book just continues to mischaracterise them. And do so in a way that links them to a psychopathic murderer.

That was probably the part I enjoyed least about this book because it’s just a weak reason for having the killer. I mean, of course with a culprit who’s killed fourteen people, there might never be a… more-reasonable-in-the-context-of-the-book reason, but this was bad even by that standard. Not to mention, there’s not really a whole lot of on-page investigation being done. A lot of it happens off-page, and what is on-page is just a simple recounting of each of the previous deaths. They basically stumble onto who did it by chance.

I think this would work better as a thriller than an out-and-out mystery, in all honesty, but if the premise does interest you, please don’t let me put you off it. Tastes differ, and all that.

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