TMW Book Reviews

Find Edsell!


Elsa Bonstein

Edsell Jones, a seventeen-year-old teenager, walked home alone after partying with his girlfriend and friend in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Drunk and tired, he saw no qualms about taking a ride from a man in a van, who he seemed to recognize.

That was the last anyone had seen of Edsell.

Lorraine Jones, Edsell’s mother and only relative, knew something was wrong when her son didn’t return home. Worried and frantic, she visited the local police but was instructed to wait for forty-eight hours before filing a report for her missing son.

Desperate, she begs her son’s former friends to give her any information about Edsell’s whereabouts.

Hours turned to days, and the more time passed since Edsell’s disappearance, the likelier something sinister was at play.

Mark Germano and Howard “Borderline” Fenton figured it didn’t hurt to try to ask their peers where they’ve last seen Edsell. While the three were no longer as tight-knit as they used to be, both boys knew they couldn’t ignore Mrs. Jones’ despair.

As the two teens pierce together some clues and testimonials, a hunch told them that Edsell might be in Chatsworth, near the Pine Barrens.

In Pine Barrens, some miles away, many locals around Chatsworth and neighboring towns made it a point to stay away from the old Watson Place. After the place had been bought and renovated for a different purpose, it was clear that the new residents were not interested in becoming a part of the community. As rumors of the new owners circulated among the private citizens, a sinister and crueler undertaking was operating in their midst.

Elsa Bonstein weaves a wonderfully paced crime thriller read with captivating characters. Set in the Pine Barrens and neighboring towns of New Jersey, she creates an intricate yet compelling story on the horrors that many families fear.

With compelling teenagers as part of the main characters, and a serious yet intriguing hunter/volunteer firefighter as the hero, the author effortlessly connects the main components of what makes a crime story thrilling without relying on cliches.

While the characters were compelling, the author’s great mastery is her talent in injecting life into the setting and the lifestyles of the locals. While the Pine Barrens is undoubtedly well-known, she makes the townsfolk in Chatsworth intriguing in a way that only readers from a small town would instantly recognize. As the story starts clandestinely with hints of the plot slowly being put into place, her careful pacing and ease steer the reader unexpectedly into a spectacular climax.

With so many crime thrillers readily available, it’s clear that “Find Edsell!” is a remarkable work of its genre for many. This book is a fine recommendation if you’re looking for a well-paced crime novel with intriguing characters.

– The Moving Words Review

Official Entry: The Most Moving Book Award, Jan. 3, 2024