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review 2018-02-20 19:15
West Cork by Sam Bungey and Jennifer Forde
West Cork - Audible Originals,Jennifer Forde,J.H. Bungey


For a few years in my teens and early twenties, I considered myself a true crime buff. I especially liked the books written from a criminal profiling point of view-like the books of Robert Ressler or John Douglas. I also loved the books of Jack Olsen and still think about them quite often. When I saw WEST CORK was available as a free pre-order, I jumped on it and I'm told it's still free at Audible, in case you're interested.


Knowing going in that this case was still not solved made this a little different from the true crime I've read in the past. Those books generally involved cases that did have a verdict. This one doesn't and that makes the experience a little bit frustrating. But in the end, it can't be as frustrating as it is for the victim's family who is still pursuing the case to this very day.


WEST CORK is related as a series of half hour shows, (I guess this was originally a Podcast?), so there is a lot of repetition with the opening and closing of each episode. That said,  I appreciated how the story was presented, starting with the murder victim, Sophie Toscan du Plantier, and then proceeding to lay everything out in chronological order. At certain points, it is actually hard to believe how bungled things became during this investigation. Seriously, some of it seemed like it just could NOT be true...but it was. I'm not going to get into the specifics so as you can hear the details as the producers intended.


For myself, as a fan of true crime, I found this case fascinating. Not only as to how the investigation proceeded, but also, later on, as to how the laws for proceeding with criminal and/or civil charges vary from country to country. I was surprised, to be honest, that some of the people acting as eyewitnesses weren't criminally charged, (if you listen to this, you'll know why). Lastly, I was surprised by how much certain people want publicity, be it good or bad, THEY WANT IT. I can't for the life of me see why?


I enjoyed listening to this well put together presentation of the case(s), and I only wish my enjoyment didn't have to come at the expense of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. May she rest in peace.


*Thanks to Audible for the free download of this production.*

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review 2018-01-23 07:39
Death in the Air by Kate Winkler Dawson
Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City - Kate Winkler Dawson

In December of 1952, a brutal winter and inferior heating coal collided with London's infamous fogs to produce a killer smog so lethal, it took the lives of thousands and literally strangled a city. Meanwhile, serial killer John Reginald Christie was adding to the body count, hiding his victims about his home and property.
Kate Winkler Dawson does a masterful job of weaving the stories of these two different harbingers of death on the streets of London, and displaying how each impacted that city in near equal measure, and left their filthy fingerprints on the pages of it's history.
Extensively researched and beautifully written, this book proves that history can be as engaging as any fictional work.

Highly recommended.

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review 2018-01-16 20:21
Doesn't Really Work as a Collection
Mortal Danger and Other True Cases - Ann Rule

I think that Rule should have kept the first story as it's own standalone cause that with the other stories doesn't really work. 


Mortal Danger (3 stars)-The first story is about Kathy Ann Jewell and her affair with a man that she really didn't know. I think that Rule dragged things out way too much and there were a lot of holes. I imagine cause she didn't have a chance to talk to the man who was the focus of her story here, John Branden. We do read about how mentally and physically abusive Branden is to Kathy Ann over the years finally culminating in an incident that left Kahty Ann raped, beaten, and fearing for her life. When Rule tries to follow what little Branden leaves behind when he moves onto another woman, named Turi Bentley. When the story shifts to Turi, there's not much there. Ultimately a sad story.


Written in Blood (3 stars)-It took me a while to realize that I had heard of this story before while watching Forensic Files. Rule was really repetitive in this story though she did add on some things I had not heard about before. It appears the man who ultimately was responsible for the murder of his neighbors (Daniel Tavares) and possible serial killer. And then we are told that the man in question was molested by his mother's one boyfriend (that still lived with him) and there could be potentially other things that were done to him as well. BTW this is not to excuse the man, it's just we are flung a lot of information our way as readers and it didn't feel as if Rule had done a lot of research or culling to make the story more coherent. We don't get a sense of the murdered married couple, Bev and Brian Mauck. 


If I Can't Have You... (3 stars)-The story of Amelia Jager who ended up marrying the wrong man. After visiting Switzerland she meets a man that she falls head over heels about. Realizing he has a mental disorder, she realizes she needs to move back to America and divorce him when there is nothing more she can do. I felt sad about this story since it appears he never should have been given permission to fly to the U.S. This was a fairly short story in the collection though. I didn't get a sense of Amelia at all.


Thirty Years Later (4 stars)-This was odd. I didn't like the first part of the story at all. But when Rule goes into what at first doesn't seem to be a similar case, things tied up in the end.


Not Safe at Home (3 stars)-Fairly short and just sad. A woman who was attacked, raped, and murdered by someone she thought she knew. Rule ends about women living alone should be doubly cautious and I wanted very badly to add anyone living alone should be cautious. Anyone not living alone should be cautious. Bad things happen in the daylight, night time or even if you have dogs, a burglar alarm, or weapons. 

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review 2018-01-16 19:46
Two Women, One Man Who Didn't Know How to Let Go
Too Late to Say Goodbye: A True Story of Murder and Betrayal - Ann Rule

The cases depicted in this book also showed up on Forensic File and Murderous Affairs. Apparently those shows just look for true crime thrillers to show.


This one didn't quite work for me just because I think that Rule had a huge reach about some things (she claimed one woman had to be brainwashed) and her back and forth to two different time periods didn't work all that well. The ending just kind of happens and I felt like there was more missing. 


"Too Late to Say Goodbye" is a true crime book about Jenn Corbin and Dolly Hearn. Jenn Corbin is found dead one morning with a gunshot wound. Initially thought as probable suicide, things about Jenn's marriage come to light which leads to questions about what could her husband, Doctor Bart Corbin (a dentist) have to possibly do with her death. When the manner of Jenn's death is investigated, it comes up that a woman that Bart dated during dentistry school also committed suicide found with a gunshot to her head. When the police start digging, it starts to look like Bart Corbin may have played a role in both women's death.


I thought Rule did a good job showing us Jenn and Dolly in her book. Rule better than anyone I think in true crime books is able to make the person(s) that are lost feel like living/breathing people that you mourn when they are gone.


I just think she missed the mark a bit with Jenn and Dolly. I don't think she meant to, but I thought she pretty much lays things at Dolly's feet with her not being forceful enough to not see Bart anymore after the number of accidents/minor crimes occurred. I just don't get how the police didn't do more when the guy was breaking into her apartment and poured hairspray into her contact lens solution. That right there was assault to me. 


Same problem with Jenn who goes looking for some comfort outside of her marriage via an online game. She at times seems to blame Jenn for getting catfished (that's a term now, not anymore) and says she thinks that the person in question brainwashed her. I wish that Rule had stuck with the story in this one and not had tried to psychoanalyze these women.


The writing was okay, but honestly, parts of the book read as filler. I think Rule wanted to stretch it out because the eventual trials end up being non-starters. 

The ending didn't work for me either since it felt like a lot of things were left unsaid. 



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review 2018-01-16 19:37
Really Good True Crime Book that Has Been Discussed on Many TV Shows
Bitter Harvest (True Crime Files) - Ann Rule

So it's weird. I have owned this book for a while, but never got around to reading it. I think it's because I watched this on a couple of television shows (Forensic Files and Murderous Affairs). So to read Ann Rule's insight into a couple that ended up in a toxic marriage that resulted in a fire that killed two of their children will have you reading each page while holding your breath.


The incident takes place in 1995, but we go back to see the beginning of the married couple (Doctor Debora Green and her husband Doctor Michael Farrrar). Initially attracted to his skinner and more lively wife (the number of times it's said that Debora is not attractive anymore due to her weight gain, haircut, and clothes is unreal) when he first meets her, Michael realizes pretty quickly he made a bad decision. I don't even know what to say about this, because I know a lot of friends who have married in haste and repented in leisure. In Michael's case he realized it was a mistake on their wedding night. I also get from the story that includes quotes from Debora (Rule did visit with her) I don't think she ever really liked him too. Instead, I think they both stayed with each other due to expectations foisted on them by what society expects of a man/woman. 


I didn't like Debora, but I also didn't like Michael Farrar. I felt for their three kids (Tim, Kelly, and Lissa) and just felt as if the two adults in this situation were acting like children. You are also going to get to read about Farrar having an affair. I like that Rule doesn't pull any punches with her depictions of everyone in this one. I don't think she cared for Farrar that much either. Even so, I did have sympathy for the man when you realize what he and his family (his kids) have been put through. One wonders if there could have been anything he could have done if more people had been willing to call out something that they saw was wrong (a mother who was being emotionally manipulative of her kids and an actual danger to her husband). 

We also get an insight into a woman that Farrar has an affair with (I had some thoughts about her) as well as the law enforcement and prosecution that is involved with this. 

I really enjoyed the writing in this one. Probably because Rule managed to keep the story moving along without any huge digressions into other things. I think her having just one story to tell and not an anthology helped things along the way. 


The setting is primarily focused in Kansas and you do get a great sense of the area/neighborhood and how tight knit the community was before and after the events in this book. 


Even when you think you are at an end, Rule comes back and shows you what Debora's side of the story is/was and you just end up shaking your head all over again. 

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