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Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost

November 22, 2018

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This is the partner book to Mark Frost’s The Secret History of Twin Peaks. The Secret History created a sprawling backstory to many of the town’s mysteries and characters and gave fans a primer before Showtime’s release of Twin Peaks: The Return (2017’s “season 3”). This much slimmer book puts a bow on it all. Meant to be read after viewing The Return, it answers some of the biggest mysteries of the third season, gives us an epilogue to a few characters and generally confirms which of the thousands of fan theories are on the mark.

It’s nice to get more of the world and spend time with the cast. Donna (and the Haywards), Annie, Shelly, the Horns, Windom Earle, Garland Briggs, Phillip Jeffries all have chapters. Cooper is, of course, a major presence. And the stories run the gamut we’ve come to expect from Twin Peaks—at times funny, scary, weird, touching, dark and mysterious.

But the thing that makes Twin Peaks wonderful is that it is a ball of mysteries. Theories serve as decoder rings that lead to broad understandings of how the Twin Peak world works, but depending on the ring (pun intended), the interpretations can vary wildly. Thus, a book of answers strips away the very thing that makes the series amazing—it’s not just a mystery for Cooper and Cole and the other investigators, it’s a mystery for us. The show left us with possibly more questions than answers, and many viewers find that frustrating. But that is Twin Peaks. An enigma that gets more mysterious the deeper you go. This book resolves too many of those mysteries.

The worst interpretation is that it is pure fan service—that Frost was reading the fan theories during the airing of the show and picking the ones he liked best. This book feels like that at times. A more favorable interpretation is that this book is meant for the fans who are both die-hard and are unsatisfied with not knowing the answers. I guess I’m the former but not the latter.

There are a few continuity mistakes—mostly minor, some major—throughout the book. Some fans have written them off as confirmation that there are indeed multiple timelines, multiple realities, at play. But they come off as mistakes, not clues. Additionally, although the overall design—by Headcase Design—is the same as The Secret History and is beautiful overall, the content itself is relatively text heavy, without the visual ephemera that helped bring the first book to life. It feels a little lazier (or cheaper) in that regard.

I didn’t hate this book, I just wish Frost hadn’t pulled back the curtain quite so much.

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