The Crash Palace is well-written. The author creates a sense of mystery and urgency. Audrey Cole is obsessed with driving and as the narrative shifts in time, that obsession continues to drive her actions. In the past, she is a young woman discovering her obsession, finding a job driving at an oil shale camp, a short-lived job that led to her picking up a new one driving an unprofitable, but dedicated rock band around from club to club around western Canada.

In the later timeline, she steals a car to drive out to The Crash Palace, a huge, rambling resort hotel where she and the band ended their peregrinations not all that many years ago. As a reader, I got the feeling that something epic must have happened for the place to haunt her.

When she arrives there, she recalls the past, which mostly seemed to be the bystander and cocktail mixer. It is a testament to Andrew Wedderburn’s skill that I stuck it out as again and again, nothing much happened.

The Crash Palace was a huge disappointment. It reminded me of something a college professor asked me about a research project I was working on, he had one comment, “So what?”  I finished this book wondering the same thing. I felt like I read a lot about very little. Yes, Wedderburn wrote in a way that engaged my interest, but in the end,  I felt conned. I was intrigued and wanted to know why she was afraid, yet fascinated by, the Skinny Cowboy and why she fled The Crash Palace in such haste, and why she was so desperate to see it again that she stole a car. Those questions don’t get answered satisfactorily, or at all.

I received an ARC of The Crash Palace from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.

The Crash Palace at Coach House Books

Andrew Wedderburn