More of what I’ve been reading and listening to in the last few months.
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – This is the classic of the “true crime” genre. Capote tells the story of a family who is murdered by two men whose ultimate goal is robbery. Along the way, we learn about the victims’ and the murderers’ lives and families as well as some of the criminology of the day. Fascinating and well-written. A+
- The Sex Slave Murders by R. Barri Flowers – Another true crime novel. And the name is more lurid than the book. This is the story of a couple who committed serial murders because of the husband sexual compulsions. Interesting story about how a girl who grew up with “everything” in an upper middle class family with doting parents got ensnared by a man who apparently had no moral compass. I listened on audiobook. A-
- Facing the Wind by Julie Salamon – This is the story of a man who had everything, a loving wife, three kids, and a good job. But, he lost his job and took over the day to day care of his disabled son and was overcome by severe depression and, in a fit of psychotic depression, killed his family but was unable to complete his own suicide. This is a fascinating look at the background of this man’s life, particularly life surrounding his disabled son, the situation surrounding the killing and the aftermath, and his attempt to put his life back together after he got out of the mental hospital. The book was really pretty good, but the narration got rather sing-songy. B
- The Good Rat by Jimmy Breslin – This story of the Mafia felt rather disjointed to me. He appeared to be stringing together many narratives about the Mafia along the backbone of the confession of a major organized crime figure (i.e. the Good Rat). I enjoyed listening to it, but the wandering nature of it made me a little disoriented at times. B
- The Innocent Man by John Grisham – This is a true story by John Grisham about a man who was convicted for a crime he did not commit. Grisham is detailed without being dull. In the end, the protagonist, who spends time on death row, is exonerated with the help of DNA evidence and the Innocence Project. It’s a sobering look at what can happen to innocent people when law enforcement doesn’t step back to be objective. A+
- A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger – In this story, the primary crime is the murder of a woman in Belmont, a suburb of Boston, right around the time that the Boston Strangler was terrorizing the city. In fact, this murder might have been categorized as one of his except that it was “solved” so quickly despite the fact that the man never confessed and was convicted on circumstantial evidence. The author grew up a few blocks from this crime scene and one of the day laborers who worked on his house confessed to being the Boston Strangler. He wrote this book with scenes from his home renovation, the stranglings, and the Belmont murder case, weaving them in a cohesive story. Very Interesting book. A
- The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales – This book is a combination of the story of the Bling Ring, the teenagers who broke into celebrities’ houses to steal things, and analyses of the culture that allowed such a Ring to flourish. It’s an enlightening book with lots of insights into youth and celebrity culture. A
What have you been reading? I’m always up for suggestions!