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review 2018-08-10 22:30
BENEATH A RUTHLESS SUN by Gilbert King, narrated by Kimberly Farr
Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found - Gilbert King,Kimberly Farr

The reason I requested this book from my library was because of Megan Abbott's 

excellent, succinct review, which can be found here: BENEATH A RUTHLESS SUN

 

 

This is the shocking true story of a mentally challenged white man who was railroaded into confessing to a rape and who was then sent to a state hospital for over 14 years WITH NO TRIAL. It's a story of racism, small town corruption, networks made up of good old boys, and most importantly, a tenacious reporter named Mabel who never, ever gave up.

 

You know, I say it's a "shocking" story, but unfortunately, it's really not. Black or white, (mostly black), mentally challenged, and ALL poor-many people have not received a fair shake in this country over the years. It's unfortunate to note that many of them STILL are not receiving a fair shake. This book only proves how important a free press can be to the causes of justice and fair play.

 

Even though she has since passed of cancer, I feel the need to say WAY TO GO, Mabel! If it weren't for you, poor Jessie Daniels would probably have died in the state hospital.

 

Thanks to Megan Abbott for her intriguing review and thanks to my local library for providing the audiobook for free. Libraries RULE!

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review 2018-07-30 20:33
The Cases that Haunt Us
The Cases That Haunt Us - John E. Douglas,Mark Olshaker

     I have previously read Douglas' The Anatomy of Motive, and it quickly became one of my favorites, so I simply had to get my hands on more Douglas. The true crime section of bookstores where I live is scant, but I got lucky visiting my grandparents in Texas and found The Cases that Haunt Us in a used bookstore (as well as approximately 15 other true crime books... oops). I brought The Cases that Haunt Us with me while on a trip to Boston, and it kept me company on plane, train, and subway alike. Overall, I would have to say it's a good read, but not Douglas' best work by a long shot.

     

     The book seemed mostly geared towards people who have a more passing interest in true crime. To be clear, I don't consider this a bad thing, but as a result sections of the book read as simplified to me. As someone who is very enthusiastic about the topic, the book was a little disappointing due to this; I wanted some more in-depth detailed analysis, a deeper dive into the evidence and connections.

 

     Many of the cases had evidence or theories that Douglas skipped over (Um, hello Burke Ramsey??), while the older cases (Jack the Ripper and Lizzie Bordon) were a little lackluster when it came to his overview of the crime/s. Of course, that is partially due to the age of the crimes, but there was still evidence that  This is contrasted with the newer crimes, however, as the overview of the cases went on for a little too long. Perhaps it is my own personal preferences (as the Lindbergh and JonBenet cases do not interest me) but the case summaries dragged on for far too long. 

 

     On the topic of the JonBenet Ramsey case, I honestly feel as though the entire chapter-- and case-- should have been cut from the book. This chapter was both the longest and the worst in the book. Not because it was bad writing, but due to Douglas' personal involvement with the case the chapter read as being somewhat biased (despite Douglas' insistence that his analysis was unbiased). He takes time to explain and defend his own actions and choices. While I appreciate his transparency, the earlier chapters had a draw the JonBenet chapter did not. They were unbiased analysis from an outsider's standpoint. This chapter read mostly as "This is why this guy's opinions on my opinions as to what I said are wrong, obviously, and also here is why I chose to do what I did on this case. Oh also Patsy definitely didn't do it". He also skipped over the theories of Burke's involvement completely, even though if he wanted to dismiss that theory it would be easy enough to do with his expertise. Perhaps it was cut because the chapter was too long, but it's absence weakened the chapter even further.

 

     This book is, overall, one that suffers from a balance issue. What analysis of the offender there is in the chapters is good, and Douglas clearly explains the connections between the crime scene and the offender's behavior. There could be more, though, so some of the explanations tend to be disappointing. For example, the chapter on Zodiac; interesting because of the nature of the case, interesting because of Douglas' analysis of the letters, and interesting because of the strategies to lure him out Douglas discusses, but overall disappointing due to the lack of a really in-depth dive. The chapter on the Zodiac is only 47 pages long. Some of the chapters-- like Zodiac-- are too short, others are, comparatively, too long. The final chapter-- in which Douglas offers an explanation as to why it is these cases that have so strongly entered the public conscious-- is disappointingly brief at only 5 pages, though he makes some good points.

 

As a true crime writer, Douglas is meh. As a behavioral analysis writer, he's amazing; his issue was that he leaned too heavily on the former rather than the latter for this book. His trademark transparency, respect for everyone involved in the case, and fair criticisms of the media and the handling of cases were present in this book, though, which are all features many true crime writers often miss out on.

 

      I probably wouldn't suggest this book to anyone who already knows quite a bit about these cases; the book is more likely to frustrate you with what it leaves out. However, for someone who is just dipping their toes into the pool of true crime or behavioral analysis, it's a good introduction to some of the cases that haunt us.

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text 2018-07-23 18:22
Monday Evening

It is so hot in my flat, the only thing I´m going to do tonight is to read my book and sip my non-alcoholic Gin and Tonic.

 

 

I´m not very far into the book, but so far I really like Kate Summerscales writing style and I tend to like a good true crime story. I hope this is going to be one of those.

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review 2018-06-19 17:40
An Intimate Look at the Victims
Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer--America's Deadliest Serial Murderer - Ann Rule

This was a really good true crime book, the main reason why I didn't give it five stars is that there was too much filler in here for me towards the end. A good 20 percent of this book could have deleted (after we get into the 1990s) since we all should know at this point that Ridgway (the Green River Killer) didn't get arrested until 2001 and was not convicted until 2003. Depending on the book I don't mind when Rule segues into the lives of the police officers who are responsible for apprehending these killers, this time though there was a lot of repetitiveness that ended up boring me to tears. 

 

"Green River, Running Red" is a look at the Green River Killer who murdered 71 women in Washington State in the 1980s and 1990s. Rule gives us an intimate look at these women and in some cases teens. We find out what drove many of them to the streets and how they got involved with prostitution. I find it appalling how little people seemed to care that prostitutes were being murdered. Ridgway purposely chose women in this profession since besides hating them, he thought no one would notice them going missing and if they did, would not care. Rule manages to have you feel nothing but sympathy for these women and their family who would not know for years or decades in some cases about what happened to their daughters/mothers/sisters. I loved that Rule added in pictures before she got into the history of each woman. I also found myself hoping for a different outcome once I got caught up in all of their lives. 

 

Rule smartly does not make Ridgway the focus of this book. Every couple of chapters or so we peek back in at Ridgway to see where he is in his life, but he is depicted as a malevolent ghost for most of the story before Rule goes into how he was finally apprehended. 

 

I do think in this case going into the Green River Task Force could have been cut way down in this final book. They really didn't find anything to go on with Ridgway for a long time, so reading about other suspects wasn't interesting. I also thought Rule carried the water for the police a bit too much in this book. She also weirdly takes potshots at Robert Keppel who enlisted Ted Bundy who provided some insights into the Green River Killer before his death. Keppel even wrote a book about it entitled "The Riverman". 

 

The ending of the book goes into Ridgway going out with law enforcement and finding the locations of other victims and him recounting how he murdered them.

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review 2018-06-19 17:26
A Look at a Real Life Point Break
The End Of The Dream The Golden Boy Who Never Grew Up : Ann Rules Crime Files Volume 5 - Ann Rule

So this was a welcome take from Rule's usual look at murderers and serial killers. Rule looks at the backstory behind a man who was responsible for robbing 17 banks in the Seattle area over a period of four years back in the 1990s. I weirdly found myself completely taken in by Rule's recounting of the childhood and later life of the man whose plan it was to rob banks, Scott Scurlock.

 

"The end of the Dream" talks about two families who were apparently destined to live in each other's pockets, the Scurlocks and the Meyers. Both families ended up settling in Reston, VA and from there two of the boys, Scott Scurlock and Kevin Meyers would be life long friends who seemed to follow each other all over. Rule obviously interviewed members of both families and from Kevin you start to get a sense that he realized that over time something in Scott became bent.

 

Scott seemed more intent on making sure he didn't have to work a "straight" job. He eventually moved from Virginia, Hawaii, and then to Washington State. While in Washington state he started to become a meth dealer. 

 

I wondered while reading how so many people obviously realized that something (not legal) was going on with Scott, but ignored all of the red flags that were being thrown up. I do laugh at Rule though, she always describes these people as being handsome, attractive to women, etc. and I saw pictures of Scurlock and just kind of shrugged.

 

When Rule goes into the rift that eventually happens between Kevin and Scott, and how Scott pulls in Kevin's brother and another long-time friend to start robbing banks you start to realize that this story is not about to have a happy ending.


Scott's plan to rob banks seemed pretty smart, but he obviously had a spending problem that needed fixed. Rule at one point asserts that he spent something like $300,000 in one year. Though you may start to have sympathy at a certain point for Scott, the way he treats women and others around you will start to turn you off. He seemed to have a sixth sense on how to draw people in and have them owe him favors. 

 

I thought Rule did a great job of showing the backstory to Steve Meyers (Kevin's brother) and Mark Biggins. These last two men Rule doesn't skimp on details. Both men get into bank robbing because they want their daughters to have a better life. I would of course respond that they would probably prefer their dads not doing something illegal.

Rule eventually gets to the tragic end of Scurlock and what happens to Meyers and Biggins. The book does falter in the end a bit as if Rule didn't quite know how she wanted to tie this up.


Rule provides details on the police which I would happily have preferred to be left out. I didn't care about the police hunting the robbers. It ended up reading as filler after a while and ruined the flow depicting Scurlock's chronology along with everyone else. 

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