Novel with a key

A new book uses a familiar setting for grisly crimes

by Katrina Wilber

There’s a serial killer loose on campus.

“The Overnights,” by St. Paul native Jeffrey Victor Dorle, is a chilling tale of murder and revenge at a college somewhere in the Midwest. The setting seems awfully familiar, even though it takes place at a fictional school.

Heartland State University has two sections to it, appropriately named the West Side and the East Side, and there’s also a long bridge that connects the two. It’s not difficult to figure out where that idea came from, since Dorle worked at the University of Minnesota for 24 years, including three years as an East Bank parking attendant on the overnight shift.

Dorle’s narrative introduces us to each of the victims right before they’re brutally attacked. These young characters had goals and dreams, hopes and ideals; they had incredible futures ahead of them.

The killer is vicious and methodical, a monster who marks his victims with a unique sign. He thinks he’s invincible, and the terror he creates certainly tips the vote in his favor. He’s fearless and relentless, and grows bolder with every crime he commits.

“The Overnights” is a frightening book simply because of where it’s set. It shatters the idea that something like that wouldn’t happen here, but nobody knows for sure.

Dorle’s book makes you want to avoid elevators, bridges, classrooms and pretty much everywhere else you might find yourself alone on campus.

In a media culture that is obsessed with serial killers, it often seems like one more story about random murders will be too much. The immediacy of “The Overnights” and its setting, however, gives this tale an extra claim on our attention.

“The Overnights”

Author: Jeffrey Victor Dorle

Publisher: Beaver’s Pond Press, Inc.

Pages: 208

Price: $15.95