Twin Peaks: The Secret History by Mark Frost

The Secret History Of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost - book cover

Over the years I’ve covered David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks TV series and movie fairly extensively, but this is the first time I’ve read Frost’s book looking at the back story of the events of the series, The Secret History.

Before embarking on this I was somewhat sceptical as I had heard that, while written by one of the creators, the other had essentially disowned them as of any relevance, particularly when finishing off the more recent return series.

Mark Frost
Mark Frost

Added to that, as with many prequels (particularly those related to Star Wars, such as Solo) I saw little point in filling in the gaps as I felt I got all I needed to know out of the information provided in the series itself, however mysterious and obscure some of it might be in this case (particularly in The Return).

That said there is some stuff to enjoy here as something of a related curiosity to the classic series (well two of the three series are particularly classic).

Coming in the form of a dossier of information discovered following the disappearance of Agent Dale Cooper after the initial two TV series and Fire Walk With Me movie, this ‘novel’ has a curious format with articles, essays, paper cuttings and notes from an unnamed (at first) archivist and FBI Agent coming together to tell the story of the town and the mysteries that emerged there following the death of Laura Palmer.

The Secret History of Twin Peaks book example

This leads us on something of a shaggy dog story of a path through ancient Native American religion and folklore, stories from 20th century occult and UFOs and a history of the fictional town and it’s inhabitants.

What is particularly engrossing and engaging, especially in the early sections that deal with the broader ‘real world’ history that feeds into the story, is how Frost takes real historical figures and characters and embellishes their genuine histories with touches that suggest an association with events in modern Washington State.

Kyle MacLachlan as Agent Dale Cooper
Kyle MacLachlan as Agent Dale Cooper

This gives the whole thing a great sense of being part of real history adding to the conspiracy theory like nature of events in the series with appearance from characters ranging from colonial explorers to past and future presidents of the USA.

The later sections, that deal more closely with the direct cast of the series, while interesting enough, does feel a little superfluous as it doesn’t really add much to what we already know and in some places even retells what we’ve already seen on the show without really expanding much on it in a meaningful way.

Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks: The Secret History, while a reasonably engaging read can’t really escape the usual problems of an over explanatory prequel while having the strange feeling of being something like fan fiction, despite being written by one of the shows creators and is far from essential reading to understand the story as it seems to make elements of its mystery too clear and almost mundane while the best of the series relies on its sense of abstract mystery, which is the trademark of the other creator David Lynch.

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