As in Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963), in which Hannah Arendt covers the trial of the eponymous war criminal, the reader experiences evil as not out of the ordinary: wickedness, in Godfrey’s portrayal, is an accretion of unexceptional moments, a slow accumulation culminating in a decisive inhumanity ... a meticulous retelling of the murder from the viewpoints of those enmeshed in the event. Godfrey demonstrates her dexterity at toggling between perspectives and, in the process, exposes common anxieties—anxieties pertaining to social status, to beauty, and to the intersection thereof ... Godfrey, like the police divers who search for Virk’s body, achieves a feat of negative buoyancy. Through her telling, we go beneath the surface of the story—where, like the divers, we glimpse a kind of psychic 'detritus of suburbia' ... Under the Bridge is mainly an impersonal documentary of a murder—albeit one where the camera has access to the innermost features of its subjects, where we are observing what we can’t see without the special powers of Godfrey’s lens.
This book loves specious details ... the sources of [Godrey's] information are not made clear, nor is the extent of her own presence on the scene. Aficionados of crime nonfiction may also notice the book's inability to distinguish important facts from minor ones, the oversupply of similar-sounding characters and the near-universal inarticulateness with which they explain themselves ... Ms. Godfrey's account reveals the terrible indifference of some of these participants, as well as the conscience pangs of others. And it confirms the idea that popular culture can have egregious effects. It also looks into the difficult family situations that heightened the teenagers' unhappiness, the abundant drug use that clouded their judgment, and the West Side Story momentum building up to a fight both tragic and cathartic. All this is readily exploitable ... In her book's second half...Ms. Godfrey fares better. It helps that much of her material here comes from police and courtroom records and takes a number of unexpected turns. It does not have to be artificially flavored.
Godfrey approaches a brutal crime in an unlikely spot the way a novelist would ... Her interviews with all the principals, ranging from the police scuba team that found the body through prosecution and defense attorneys, suburban families, teachers, and the accused themselves, bring this case disturbingly alive.
With a gripping journalistic style, novelist Godfrey...recounts the story behind a horrific murder in a small British Columbia town ... Godfrey is careful not to make judgments, but her informed writing reveals a remorseful Warren, an unrepentant Kelly (who denies her guilt) and other psychologically damaged members of the group, sharply etched, whose casual brutality, enabled by drug use, led to a brutal and senseless death. Godfrey's account contains some recreated dialogue but overall is meticulously researched and harrowing to read.
Godfrey reconstructs a horrific murder with a vividness found in the finest fiction, without ever sacrificing journalistic integrity ... While there’s no more over-tilled literary soil than that of the shocking murder in a small town, Godfrey manages to portray working-class View Royal in a fresh manner ... Godfrey parcels out details piecemeal in the words of the teens who took part or simply watched ... The tone veers close to melodrama, but in this context it works, since the author is telling the story from the inside out, trying to approximate the relentlessly self-dramatizing world these kids inhabited. Given most readers’ preference for easily explained and neatly concluded crime narratives, Godfrey’s resolute refusal to impose false order on the chaos of a murder spawned by rumors and lies is commendable. A tour-de-force of true crime reportage.