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A Killing in Iowa: A Daughter's Story of Love and Murder
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A Killing in Iowa: A Daughter's Story of Love and Murder

3.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  612 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
Rachel Corbett was eight years old when the man she had come to regard as a father killed his girlfriend and then himself on May 13, 1993. Over the years Corbett has been haunted by how such a seemingly gentle, loving man could be capable of murder. She's wrestled with how her mother, who had been involved with the man for years, hadn't seen the signs. And she’s wondered w ...more
Kindle Edition, 42 pages
Published November 14th 2011 by Byliner, Inc.
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Jan 04, 2013 Lora rated it did not like it
Living less than 3 yeards from where the murder suicide happened, I was excited to read this book. This 46 page short story was very dissapointing at best. It should be titled "Childhood Memories" because only a few pages pertain to the murder suicide. The pages that are actually about the crime are not even totally factual. I was a teenager when this happened, however, I do remember it very well since things like this did not happen in my small town. I'm not sure why the author did not research ...more
Jenny Whetzel
Jun 19, 2016 Jenny Whetzel rated it really liked it
I was debating on either three or four stars for this book. I enjoyed reading this, I just wish it was longer. I can understand that sometimes it is difficult to prolong the writing when it comes to memoirs as I am currently writing one and I am having the same issue. But even though it is a short read, I believe everyone has a story to tell.
Jul 20, 2013 Beverlee rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
I found this very short book interesting and well-written, but I see my opinion is in the minority when I looked at the reviews. I believe Rachel Corbett is a promising author and I would definitely read something else she writes.
Lori Henrich
Feb 27, 2012 Lori Henrich rated it it was ok
Not sure why I finished reading this. I didn't particularly care for the style of writing or why she would write this story. It didn't come to any real conclusion. I kept reading because I thought it would get better.
Jan 03, 2012 Kate rated it it was ok
The author beautifully wrote but forgot to tell the story.
Jan 28, 2013 Janyne rated it it was ok
Shelves: shorts, nonfiction
I found this book to be disappointing. It was not investigative journalism. It wasn't really an investigation of the author's personal feelings. The author never went into the drugs in the house, etc. The author never went into her own feelings so it wasn't really autobiographical. The author discusses the flooding of the Mississippi River and then says that Vinton flooded in 1993 but Vinton is on the Cedar River.

The work did have a few interesting pieces
- "At one point, more than a quarter of
Jason Kirk
Oct 20, 2013 Jason Kirk rated it liked it Review: Vinton, Iowa, is not just a place where people live; it's a place where people "stay, sometimes for so long that farmers throw parties when a family reaches its centennial on a plot of land." So when Scott Johnson kills, it rocks the whole community. We all hear about homicides, serial killings, and murder-suicides, but who among us knows a killer, plays with him, watches our mother's heart-rending break-ups with him, or goes to sleep one night while he crashes on the couch in ...more
Jan 16, 2012 karenbee rated it it was ok
I feel bad giving A Killing in Iowa a less-than-stellar rating because it's REAL LIFE and there are some real emotions involved: I'm not sure why this is bothering me NOW when it normally doesn't. Shake it off!

Corbett's story is a Kindle single, which means the length is closer to a feature magazine article or a short story than a book. In this case, I'm glad, because if it had been much longer I don't think I'd have finished it. I just didn't like it. I kept making notes in my copy of it becaus
May 03, 2014 Jamie rated it liked it
This was interesting, I picked it up soley because I'm doing the state challenge and was stuck for books that sounded interesting from this state. It's not very long so nothing is covered in any real depth. It just seems like one person's reaction to her experience of the killer who was her mother's ex.
Of course the title piqued my interest, being born & raised in Iowa, and it was a free kindle download so I thought - what the heck.

This book is a good starter, but I wish it had dug deeper. The story focuses on the author searching for answers about why her mother’s ex-boyfriend had committed murder-suicide with his new girlfriend. In her search, she discovers that their story was not at all unusual for it’s time and place (Iowa during the early 90’s). Downturn in the economy following majo
Jul 23, 2012 Karen rated it it was ok
The opening chapters were stunningly written and at first I was excited to find a freebie that would be a good read, although puzzled about the 45 pages. How can you spend a chapter describing small town Iowa and still get to any kind of story in 45 pages? One would need to be a skilled storyteller to pull that off. Unfortunately, not the case with this author.

This was more like a class assignment "write about an experience that greatly impacted you and what you learned from it" than a story. Be
Debra Anne
Jul 30, 2013 Debra Anne rated it really liked it
I would like to see this developed into a full-length book and not a Kindle Single. However, the purpose of the Singles is to present compelling writing in a short form, and as such, Corbett's book certainly fits the bill. However, as a writer of books from real life, I am aware that real life does not always conveniently adjust itself to fill more pages, much less to a tidy resolution. It is possible that Corbett has taken this as far as she can, at least at this time, since she was personally ...more
Apr 07, 2014 Kim rated it it was ok
Well, thank God this book was short. I picked this up from a B&N sale for either .99 cents or for free. Let's just say in this case you get what you pay for. I wouldn't say it was BAD...but I wouldn't say it was good either. There is a very large possibility that she wrote this for a class in college (hence its 50 page length).

Where to begin? It wasn't really a crime story...okay, again, not sure what it was. It definitely did not have the caliber of writing (or editing) to be a 'real' book
Aug 05, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
Interesting memoir about a man who had such devastation upon a small town. The author's use of adjectives and adverbs is simply amazing to describe Iowa in general and the small town she discusses.

Sep 27, 2015 theworldawaits rated it it was ok
I'm from Iowa and I had a hard time relating to this story. The place she describes is nothing like the place I grew up. I guess I got lucky and had a wonderful, stable family.
Jan 08, 2012 Pirate rated it did not like it
I downloaded a sample since the description piqued my interest. I'm from the midwest and my morbid curiosity thought this could be a good book.

The sample was all right so I paid a $1.99 for the Kindle version. I want my money back. While the story is tragic, Corbett's style is pathetically cliched and there is no research to support her claims when she discusses psychological trends. I sympathise with her pain and confusion, but there is nothing of substance in the book.

I paid $2 to read what am
Todd N
Dec 13, 2012 Todd N rated it liked it
I’m not sure this counts as a “book” or not. It’s a “Kindle Single,” which is designed to be read in one sitting. It’s also an incredibly depressing piece of nonfiction, telling the story of the author’s discovery that her mother’s boyfriend, had not just killed himself, but his new girlfriend too. The author, many years later, tries to put together the pieces of this seminal event in her life and the life of her small Iowa town. This isn’t an easy read, but it is well-written and thoughtful, al ...more
Feb 29, 2012 Diana rated it really liked it
Sometimes when someone commits a horrible act, you can look back and see that there were signs leading up to it...but sometimes it is completely out of the blue. Why did the quiet, shy man kill his girlfriend and then himself? Why that woman and why not the author's mother, who he was with earlier in the day? Was it an act of claiming his masculinity, or a suicide pact? Was it planned and dispassionate, or an act of passion? While there aren't answers, the author's beautiful narrative outlines a ...more
Feb 23, 2015 Charlotte rated it liked it
2.5. Hard subject matter but well written. Author's journey to find answers in an effort to heal.
Annette Kikta
Mar 14, 2015 Annette Kikta rated it did not like it
This is a short story. Not recommended.
Nov 10, 2013 Coryann rated it liked it
This was my first experience with a "Kindle Single" and I cannot say I was impressed. Perhaps I do not fall into the target audience. After finishing this book I felt like the story was unfinished. If I could give this book a rating it would be 2 1/2 stars. It was just "okay". A Killing in Iowa is a short memoir of some of the events that shaped Rachel Corbett's life. If nothing else, it was well written.
Apr 02, 2012 Fionna rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebooks, 2012-reads
This Kindle Single is less about the stated topic - a woman exploring why her step-father murdered his current lover and then killed himself - as it is an examination of life in rural Iowa, and what happens to the men and women when they can see no way out of the area.

It is somewhat unsatisfying at the end, hopefully more cathartic for the author, but worth reading at such a short length.
Dec 09, 2011 Kristin rated it liked it
I was fortunate enough to win an e-version of this in a giveaway (not on goodreads) and I'm looking forward to reading it as it's a bit different from my usual fare.

Very different from what I usually read, but quite interesting. It read more like a long magazine article than the book that I expected, but it was well written and engaging.
Aug 03, 2012 Ana rated it liked it
Wishing there was more scientific (psychology, sociology) background given. I guess this lacking gives this non-fiction book an extra quality - it reads like a short fiction, which is both great and utterly unsatisfying.
I would have read a full-lenght book, given a chance.

Bought this as a Kindle Single for $1.99, which it is totally worth.
Apr 12, 2012 Stacie rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle
I really wanted to like this book, and there were some heart-felt parts. But mostly for me it was more like a story in Good Housekeeping and ended much too abruptly and really without closure. I understand these are stories written to be read in one sitting, which it was for me, I still wish she could have given me more.
Todd Johnson
Jul 17, 2012 Todd Johnson rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, murder
Recommended by Mary Roach on Twitter.

I like the short format. Corbett's writing was a bit too self-consciously pretty a couple of times, but mostly really enjoyable.

The hardest part of reading this is that there aren't any answers. But then, that's also the hardest part of Corbett's story.
Aug 04, 2014 Lesley rated it it was ok
Disappointing! Even the title makes no sense to me after reading this. Her father did go to jail and her mom is alive. This is about her moms old boyfriend that killed his new girlfriend then himself. She finds this out as an adult and feels the need to look into it. It gave me no answers!
Mar 12, 2012 Michelle rated it it was ok
Although the book was a good read and written well, the story ended abruptly. I was expecting more to be mentioned about Scott, her mother, Zach, and her life after the murder but instead I felt like I was left hanging. Would recommend for those who are wanting a quick and easy\ read.
Susan Poling
May 12, 2012 Susan Poling rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-on-facts
The story of a young woman's search into her past: The story of her mother's divorce from an abusive husband and her involvement with a younger man whose destiny brings sorrw to the girl who was infatuated by him.
Jun 21, 2012 Becky rated it it was ok
This was my first Kindle Single. This grabbed my interest since I live close to Iowa. I found the initial idea of exploring this event interesting, but would have liked to see the book go more in-depth.
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Goodreads Librari...: Duplicate - needs to be combined 2 22 May 03, 2012 05:06PM  
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Rachel Corbett is executive editor of Modern Painters magazine and the author of You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin (September 2016, WW Norton). Her writing has appeared in the The New Yorker, the New York Times, the BBC, The Art Newspaper, New York magazine, and others. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
More about Rachel Corbett...

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