On days when I only want to stare out the window and can only manage cheese sandwiches and yogurt (and of course chocolate) for sustenance, I can justify never leaving my couch if I have a page turner like Rebecca Makkai’s I Have Some Questions For You – a complicated mystery focusing on one death with so many tangential subplots.
Bodie Kane, a successful podcaster, returns to her New Hampshire boarding school alma mater as a visiting lecturer and finds herself investigating, with her students, the death of her roommate twenty years earlier. Bodie is convinced the school’s athletic trainer Omar Evans who was convicted is not the murderer. As she investigates fellow students and the music teacher who seemed a little too friendly, Bodie remembers incidents from her time as a poor student among wealthy and entited class mates.
Gabino Iglesias for NPR notes “it is a dark, uncomfortable story about murder, racism, sexual abuse, grief, the nature of collective memory, privilege, the way humans want to be at the center of tragedy even when they’re not, and feeling like an outsider. This is a novel about questions, with the biggest question of them all – Who killed Thalia Keith? But as Makkai cleverly inserts choice news clippings of other cases with implications for miscarriages of justice into the main plot, she raises more questions stretching into the failures of the American criminal justice system, the public’s obsession with stories of violence, and influence affecting outcomes. Was the man who has served more than twenty years in prison really the murderer? Is it too inconvenient to change the verdict?
Although the story morphs into a legal thriller in the last half of the book, Makkai carefully keeps bringing the reader back to reality. She tells who the real killer is, but she does not tie up loose ends. There is more for the reader to think about than whodunit.