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BOOK REVIEW: "The Secret History of Twin Peaks: A Novel" by Mark Frost

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BOOK REVIEW: The Secret History of Twin Peaks: A Novel  by Mark Frost (Flatiron Books) 2016

Unique in style and approach, The Secret History of Twin Peaks: A Novel is not so much a novel as it is a secret dossier in book form.

And we have Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost to thank for that.

And that’s what makes it so amazing and engaging. And while this hardbound book is aimed at the more hardcore Twin Peaks fan, it is a great tome for those even mildly interested in the series to learn more about the mysterious nexus between this small town in the Pacific Northwest and some of the stranger conspiracies and high weirdness of the past 200 years.

And when I say 200 years, I am reaching back to President Thomas Jefferson and his dispatching of Capt. Meriwether Lewis and 2nd. Lt. William Clark on the Corps of Discovery (Lewis & Clark Expedition) to explore the Louisiana Purchase and secure the Pacific Northwest, which included present-day Washington State, where Twin Peaks, the town, is located. And apparently, on this trek between 1803-1806, Lewis - according to Frost's account - went on a side trip in the area of modern-day Twin Peaks, where Lewis (in a secret "dispatch" back to President Jefferson) tells of seeing "(l)ights from the sky, the silvery spheres .. music, like some heavenly choir ... fire that burns but does not consume ... colors unseen or unimagined, flowing from all things ... gold, all gold, bright and shining" while also sharing information about a portal he entered that mirrors that of what Twin Peaks fans know as the "Black Lodge."

An early page in the book, featuring a photo of the Meriwether Lewis monument in Tennessee. Lewis featured also (l) and the traitorous Gen. James Wilkinson. (Flatiron Books)

My interest in Meriwether Lewis's trek and the man himself has stayed with me, particularly since visiting the site of his alleged "suicide" at a remote crossroads in Tennessee along the old Natchez Trace back in the late 1990's. There was an eerie quality to the Grinder's Stand area where his death occured. Frost incorporates the mystery of Lewis's death - just three years after returning from his journey of discovery - into this remarkable book which is a collection of historical documents, information about mysteries and clues to what might be going on in Twin Peaks, Washington and the surrounding area, as gathered by an unknown person called "The Archivist" and examined by a Special Agent of the FBI who goes by the initials TP. This case was handed to "TP" by FBI Deputy Director Gordon Cole, played in Twin Peaks by show co-creator and all-around cinematic genius David Lynch.

Let me just say that I was heavily into Twin Peaks back during the original 1990-91 run. And while I found the whole “Who killed Laura Palmer” mystery mildly captivating, what really interested me were the main and even peripheral characters inhabiting Twin Peaks, Washington. And I don’t even mean just the first season – considered the “golden season.” I loved every aspect of the show, even when it got schmaltzy and the writing was a little below par. It was still far better than anything else on television at the time.

And it was really in that second season that viewers received more information about the "paranormal" and "otherworldly" things swirling around the seemingly bucolic logging town somewhere between Spokane and Seattle. 

Yes, we all wanted to know about Laura Palmer's "secrets" and who the killer was, but those inquiries led to bigger questions and bigger mysteries, and Frost gives readers of The Secret History of Twin Peaks: A Novel a real sense that there was far more going on in U.S. history than we ever fully realized and that for some reason, Twin Peaks, Wash. was the nexus of some battle between good and evil - a White Lodge and a Black Lodge, and that the Native Americans Lewis & Clark encountered were well aware of the existence of these lodges, accessed through particular portals, which are noted in the TV series and in the 1992 motion picture Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

But Frost's history lesson in conspiracy culture, UFO sightings, characters like Fred Crisman and the curious "Maury Island Incident," the JFK assassination and more strange events in American history that have confounded many researchers, we even get more information on a rather obscure Twin Peaks character - Doug Milford - who was doing work for the government, sort of like The X-Files, and having encounters with President Nixon and actor Jackie Gleason at a Florida air force base checking out an alien body recovered from the 1947 flying saucer crash at Roswell, New Mexico.

The owls are not what they seem. (Flatiron Books)

While this may be confusing for some, there is a lot for the hardcore fans to embrace. I was continually amazed at how well Frost ties in all of these woeful tales in with Twin Peaks. It all makes so much sense, in retrospect, especially with the involvement of the FBI (with Special Agent Dale Cooper, of course, among others) and the US Air Force, with Maj. Garland Briggs, who was involved in researching UFOs through Project Blue Book. I won't give too much away, though. It's well-worth your time. I promise!

And so as we await the premiere of Showtime's version of Twin Peaks, with many of the same characters returning, we have this wonderful book - full of archived documents, photographs, secret government memos, and much, much more - to pore over. 

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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