The Lovely Bones takes a look at how the order and safety of a suburban neighborhood in the 1970s is utterly disrupted by Mr. Harvey's rape and murder of Susie Salmon. Harvey is the disruption of order personified. A serial rapist/killer Harvey destroys the order of the lives of his victims, their loved ones, and his neighborhood. Opposing him is Detective Len Fenerman, whose goal is to restore order, or at least the fantasy of it in the town. His lack of success in that regard – his failure to recognize Harvey's guilt until it's too late – gives the novel a realistic feel. Life is disorderly, messy, and often seemingly unfair. The Lovely Bones doesn't try to tell us otherwise. Love, it argues, is all the order we can hope for, and to live in a loving way is sometimes all we can do when life turns chaotic.