With the new “Twin Peaks” series arriving on television next year, it’s time to remember “Who killed Laura Palmer?”
When the TV series “Twin Peaks” premiered back in 1990, it instantly struck a cultural nerve. All the water-cooler talk seemed to revolve around this moody, dark mystery set in a fictional Northwest town. In an era before bingeing and streaming, “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” became the question on everybody’s lips (she was the young woman who was found wrapped in plastic in the series premiere).
Then, seemingly as soon as it arrived, it was gone. Laura’s killer was identified, and after two brief seasons the series was canceled.
So, when it was announced that the series would return to television in 2017, fans rejoiced, but were armed with a lot of questions.
The author of “The Secret History of Twin Peaks” will appear at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., Seattle; free (206-624-6600 or elliottbaybook.com).
In his new book “The Secret History of Twin Peaks” (Flatiron Books, 368 pp., $29.99), Mark Frost (co-creator of the series, with David Lynch) attempts to bridge the gap between the old and new series, by putting the town and its residents in some sort of historical perspective and answering many of those questions. And he succeeds, mostly.
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The book is presented in the form of a dossier, full of handwritten letters, secret government documents, photos, newspaper clippings and much more. The dossier was supposedly found at a recent crime scene that may have ties to the events of the original series and was compiled by a mysterious archivist. There are also notes and comments in the margins written by an FBI agent (known only as TP). If you haven’t already guessed, this is not a lighter-than-air beach read.
The first items in the dossier are excerpts from the journals of Lewis & Clark, dated 1805, who happened to be in the area that would become Twin Peaks. In subsequent chapters, the reader travels to Maury Island, Roswell (New Mexico), Hollywood, secret government hangars and even the White House. In fact, there’s so much talk of government conspiracies and UFOs, I felt like I was reading lengthy outtakes from a script for “The X-Files.”
The book works best when Frost returns to Twin Peaks and the familiar characters and places that first caught our attention: Agent Dale Cooper, the Log Lady, the Packards, Norma and Big Ed, Audrey Horne, the Great Northern Hotel. The book even contains a copy of the menu for the Double R Diner, home of that damn fine cup of coffee and delicious cherry pie.
If you weren’t a fan of the series, you could immerse yourself in “The Secret History of Twin Peaks” and maybe feel a little more prepared when the new episodes air in 2017. But if you are a fan, dive right in. The water is chilly and dark, and so are the thrills and delights Frost has waiting for you.