Minnesota author tells gripping tale of St. Cloud murder

The newest book by Jess Lourey, "The Quarry Girls," is a phenomenal read.

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When a book is put together with all the right pieces, it creates a whole world for the reader to get lost in. "The Quarry Girls" by Jess Lourey has all of those pieces — a believable and vivid setting, deep and varied characters, and a plot line that makes the reader never want to put the book down until it’s been completely devoured.

I did not want to put this book down. In fact, I know this book will be one of those I go back to read a few times in my lifetime.

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"The Quarry Girls" By Jess Lourey
contributed / Jess Lourey

Inspired by the unsolved case of two young girls, missing — then murdered in 1977 in St. Cloud, Lourey's book is phenomenal. The majority of the chapters are told in first person from the perspective of a fictional 15-year-old girl, growing up in St. Cloud in the ‘70s. Some chapters are told in third person about a recent high school graduate who gets abducted from her place of work one night. The story begins that night and everything that follows that summer from both perspectives. Lourey does a fantastic job intertwining their stories in a way that does not become fully revealed until the end.

Lourey had me on the edge of my seat through the majority of this book. She has done an amazing job weaving this tangled web leaving the reader wondering who are the spiders and who are the flies. She has created multidimensional characters who are raw and flawed in a setting with twists and turns in dark tunnels, literally and figuratively.

As a Minnesotan, born and raised, Lourey is able to capture the culture in a very real way. She capitalizes on the “history and rumors” local to the St. Cloud townspeople. She takes these very personal and neighborhood specific details and intersperses them with universal themes of secrets, coming of age, society value of many versus one and the importance of friendship and sisterhood.


Lourey proves her magician-like talent with this book.

Lourey grew up in Paynesville, Minnesota, a Sterns County city not far from St. Cloud. She is a tenured professor of writing and sociology. She is a leader of writing retreats and online writing classes. She has dozens of published books and short stories and is an Amazon Charts Top Author. She is also a TEDx presenter. She currently resides in Minneapolis.

"The Quarry Girls" published Nov. 1 by Thomas and Mercer and is available online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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Jess Lourey
contributed / Jess Lourey

Book Nook is a feature that highlights books from Minnesota authors. Got a recommendation? Email us at with the subject line "Book Nook."

Opinion by Kelsey Hawley
Kelsey Hawley is a Jill-of-all-trades and as newsroom clerk, supports many facets of the office. She grew up in Rochester, where she continues to make her home with her two daughters, a few fish, a snail and a hamster. Readers can reach Kelsey at 507-285-7734 or
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