Where the Crawdads Sing (Big spoiler alert)

My local paper publishes the NY Times bestseller list weekly, which I glance at. Where the Crawdads Sing, a novel by Delia Owens, topped it forever. Owens is a zoologist and wildlife writer; this is her first novel. I’m not normally into popular novels, but then my book group chose it.

Its appeal is understandable. It’s set in the marshes of North Carolina’s outer banks, leading to the ocean. Kya, known as “the Marsh Girl,” lives there in a shack. By the time she was six, her abusive drunk of a father had driven away the rest of the family; often absent himself, he disappeared for good a few years later. Leaving Kya to survive alone. Which she does admirably.

This story is joined with a murder mystery.

Teenaged Kya, much the loner, nevertheless develops a diffident romance with Tate, a slightly older youngster encountered exploring the marshlands. When he goes off to college, he promises to return. But guess what?

Kya feels really burned. Yet she falls for the next fella to penetrate the marsh and earn her trust: Chase, a “golden boy” in the nearby town of Barkley Cove. He penetrates her too, with promises of marriage. Guess what?

After Chase marries someone else — Kya, devastated, only learns of it in a newspaper she buys on a fluke — he returns and brutally tries to rape her.

Subsequently he’s found dead at the foot of a tower.

Kya fortunately has a good alibi. You see, Tate had meanwhile come back too after all, earned her trust again, sort of, and now a biologist, he gets Kya’s marsh expertise on shells, birds, etc., embodied into beautifully published books. So she makes the only bus trip of her life, to Greenville, to meet with her publisher, for dinner and then breakfast. Just happened to be the night of Chase’s death.

But Kya is arrested anyway and charged with murder. The prosecutor’s theory is that she could have bussed back and forth to Barkley Cove during the night. The bus schedules allowed for that — with just barely enough time to do the deed — if you assume a lot. The bus drivers testified they didn’t see her. But the prosecution suggested she traveled in disguise. All seemingly far fetched!

Kya is acquitted.

A few things struck me. Why would buses run between these small towns in the middle of the night? Seemed a blatant authorial contrivance. And never mentioned is a gaping hole in the case. Assuming Kya did meticulously plot this caper, how did she know she’d find Chase at the tower? On the other hand, she never actually professes innocence.

Anyway, she returns to her marsh life, spending the next forty years lovingly together with Tate in the shack. The murder — if it wasn’t just an accidental fall — is never solved.

But there was one loose end. Missing from Chase’s body was the shell necklace he’d worn for years, a gift from Kya. It whispered to me throughout the aftermath. I knew it would resurface — else why was it there in the first place? Like Chekov’s proverbial gun. And when, on the final page, after Kya’s death, Tate stumbles upon her hidden cache, I knew what he’d find.

P.S. “Crawdads” are fresh water crayfish.

One Response to “Where the Crawdads Sing (Big spoiler alert)”

  1. Don Bronkema Says:

    Epicurus notw/standing, life is much too short to waste on post- classic fiction. Try Lucretius, Ibn Khaldun, Bento de Espinosa, Sor Juana, Simmel, Hamann, Herder, Spengler, Klages, Ramanujan, Godel, Sartre, Turing, Shannon, Dave Deutsch, Len Susskind, Penrose, Bostrom, Krugman, Piketty & Doudna for starters. As for the conflagration of libraries, non multo graviora tulisti.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s