I don't read a lot of non-fiction, so this is an exception to my usual reading habits. While doing some research on the history of Atlanta, Georgia, II don't read a lot of non-fiction, so this is an exception to my usual reading habits. While doing some research on the history of Atlanta, Georgia, I happened across a mention of the Atlanta Ripper. I had never heard of such a thing. I could find very little about it online except for a mention of a book by a local history professor. Intrigued and curious, I looked up the book on Amazon and discovered it had a Kindle edition.
The frustrating thing about the entire story is that so little information has survived. Because it was an African-American killer whose victims were young African American women in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Atlanta, it was not taken very seriously until the number of killings were in two digits. Wells manages to bring it all together in one seamless narrative that lays out the full history of the killings, as well as events leading up to them. It astounded me that some of the victims were never identified, at least by the journalists of the time. Wells lays it all out with names, dates and locations of the killings, and the men accused, tried, and either convicted or acquitted of the crimes.
I definitely have a better image of what Atlanta might have been like in those days. In the wake of the race riots of 1906, tensions were still high, but the city did eventually come together to try to bring this man--or these men--to justice. And that is the crux of the issue: Who was the Atlanta Ripper? Was he one man or many?
Although there is no definite conclusion--because there was never a conclusion to the case, itself--Wells presents a compelling case for the non-existence of a single "Atlanta Ripper." That most of the murders were committed by opportunistic copycats.
Think about it. The whole city was in an uproar (eventually). The modus operandi was well known: he bashed his victim in the head, slit her throat, and sometimes took personal effects from her body. Knowing this, if you had murderous intent toward a young lady for some transgression, real or imagined, what better way to divert attention from yourself as the prime suspect and shift police attention to the unknown Ripper than to rid yourself of her in a way consistent with other known victims of the Atlanta Ripper?
I had already drawn this conclusion by the time Wells presented it, so he definitely laid out all the clues properly so his readers could follow along.
I found it a quick, informative read, and I definitely recommend it to those for whom the rich history of Atlanta is a compelling draw....more
Dead Mann Walking is an urban fantasy that manages to break free from the pack of most of the other urban fantasies I've read. Most of those others inDead Mann Walking is an urban fantasy that manages to break free from the pack of most of the other urban fantasies I've read. Most of those others involve sexy vampires, sexy werewolves, wizards, or other...well, romantic figures. Ghosts. Fairies. Elves. That kind of thing.
Hessius Mann is a zombie. But they don't call them that. They call them chakz, after the Spanish word for "jerky," or "dried meat."
Mann, who was a policeman in life, was accused of murdering his wife (for good reason), and found guilty. He was executed for the crime. And then exonerated. To give him a "second chance" of sorts, he was revived. The hell of it is, he doesn't remember whether he actually did it or not. It's all lost in a haze. Chakz' memories aren't what they were in life. Mann doesn't like to think about it too much. What if he remembers...and it turns out he did kill her? Could he "live" with himself, knowing that?
Unlike most chakz, Mann is pretty lucky. He's in one piece with few nicks and cuts, although the injuries he's received since his raising are easy enough for his assistant Misty to fix with an exacto knife, needle, thread, and super glue.
He's running a mostly unsuccessful private investigation business. Chakz are universally reviled. Not only are they outcast, they have to deal with the constant threat of harassment by Hakkers, gangs of young thugs who think it's fun to torture and/or destroy the undead. And even though most chakz are able to hold things together pretty well, mentally...occasionally one slips and turns feral, becoming like those Romero-type zombies that mindlessly kill and eat any living humans--Livebloods--they come across. That doesn't make chakz any more loved.
A lawyer visits Mann at his office one day to offer him a substantial sum of cash to find his client's heir--who is a chak--and bring him home into the loving arms of his family so he can inherit the family fortune. Mann doesn't look a gift horse in the mouth, and takes the money--and the case. But then, several chakz are discovered in pieces. Minus their heads.
Mann soon realizes that the cases are related, and once he starts investigating it, he stirs up all kinds of trouble in the community, and uncovers a plot that will endanger his unlife several times over. But the police are no help--they all think he killed his wife, after all, and it's just chakz who are being disposed of, not real people--and the only liveblood who'll help is Misty, who has her own demons.
What I really liked about this novel is that not only does it have the requisite Mystery That Must Be Solved™, there's quite a few things in there that hold a bright light up to how society tends to treat those it values least. The people it chooses not to notice. The people it wishes would just go away. A chakz' existence is pretty bleak, and most of them didn't ask for it. It's not really life they're living so much as it is mere existence. They don't have any of the animal drives of the living--sleep, food, water, air, sex--and they aren't welcome anywhere. What's left to them?
The book doesn't shy away from these questions, either. It addresses them head on. At the end of the book, the legal status of chakz comes under scrutiny and undergoes a drastic change, which should provide a very interesting backdrop for subsequent books in the series.
Make no doubt about it: In many ways, this is a bleak story. With bleak characters. Living in a bleak world. It is not light-hearted and fluffy. It is probably not going to uplift your soul or make you shed tears of happiness and joy. There are no wise-cracking heroes who always get the girl, here. In fact, even the good guys aren't always so great. But I think that makes them more interesting to read.
And it is a very good read. The plot makes sense. The pacing is good. The characters are not just flat caricatures of movie monsters, but have some actual depth. There are some very interesting secondary characters that I look forward to seeing come back in later volumes. There are a few places where you'll laugh, and there are a few places where you'll squirm. And there's at least one scene that should give you the heebie-jeebies. (Heh-heh!)
But you'll keep turning the page because you want to know what happens next.
And isn't that the hallmark of a good book?
I'll definitely be looking for the subsequent volumes....more
This second novel was quite a bit better than the first. There were still problems with not only the writing style, but the lack of any sort of consisThis second novel was quite a bit better than the first. There were still problems with not only the writing style, but the lack of any sort of consistent rules involving his magic system or how Melody's instruments work. But the story itself was better (if unintentionally hilarious in some places).
This isn't a spoiler; it's something you'll figure out almost immediately after reading the first few pages.
As much as I hate to give a bad review, I must, this time. The blurb on the back of the book led me to believe that this was going to be a serious, X-As much as I hate to give a bad review, I must, this time. The blurb on the back of the book led me to believe that this was going to be a serious, X-Files-esque urban fantasy. What was inside was, unfortunately, more like The Three Stooges and Abbott and Costello meet Casper the Ghost. Perhaps if I had KNOWN it was a farce going in, I would have been more open to the slapstick.
I purchased this one and the sequel at the same time, and I will go on and read the sequel. Perhaps I'll change this rating and/or rate the other one higher. We'll see....more
Susan Fowler Woodring gives an excellent seminar on procrastination and how to overcome it. Whenever I feel myself slipping into procrastination mode,Susan Fowler Woodring gives an excellent seminar on procrastination and how to overcome it. Whenever I feel myself slipping into procrastination mode, I break out this audiobook and listen to it again. It inspires me to get off my butt and get whatever it is I'm procrastinating...well, at least STARTED, if not done. :)
The second or third time through, I took copious notes and printed them out and put them in my Franklin Planner so I'd have them with me even when I wasn't listening to the audio. It really does help....more