Since reading Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry at the age of 11, the winding and disturbing story of the Manson crimes has stuck wit...moreSince reading Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry at the age of 11, the winding and disturbing story of the Manson crimes has stuck with me. This interest not only led me to read many other true crime books over the years and honed an interest in psychology but also to re-reads of this grandfather of the true crime genre on a regular basis.
If you have read Helter Skelter, you will quickly recognize Charles "Tex" Watson as the personal executioner of seven people on the nights of August 8 and 9, 1969. If you have kept current on the post-sentencing lives of the incarcerated Manson Family members, you will also know that Watson alleges to have become a born-again Christian, started his own ministry while in prison as well as marrying and fathering children. Yes, after butchering a pregnant woman begging for her life and the life of her child, this individual was allowed to become a father himself.
So why would anyone be interested in reading what this murderer has to say? I can only answer for myself but as a continuing student of abnormal psychology and true crime, I am always willing to open another book on the Tate murders. Oh, and it was free for my Kindle.
So let's talk about this "book", or truthfully, answers to questions submitted to Watson by an investigative journalist. If you're looking for Watson to take any accountability for his horrific crimes, you won't get it here. Ever the conman, he places the blame for the vicious murders on Manson, on drugs, on alcohol, on the times, even on rock and roll music. Basically on anyone but himself. And while I do think that the crimes wouldn't have happened without Manson, I can hardly keep a straight face and accept that Flower Power played any part whatsoever in the brutal and senseless butchering of people.
While the crimes themselves are questioned (naturally), Watson gives little input other than the aforesaid placing of blame. He claims to be sorry, so sorry for the pain and grief he caused but has no good reason for why he has chosen to not say these simple words to the families of his victims. He claims that his words would mean little. An apology for the cruelest act possible apparently would mean little but this collection of words we're supposed to swallow. Okay.
What infuriated me perhaps more than anything else was Watson's assertion that neither he nor the Manson "girls" who also participated in the killings derived any type of enjoyment or pleasure from their acts. He opines that they killed their victims as a matter of course, expediency, obeying their ultimate master, Manson. Again, as someone who has read multiple accounts of the crimes and seen crime scene photos and autopsy reports, this is yet another example of Watson's posturing and attempts to con the reader. His victims were physically and emotionally tortured - - hardly dispatched from this life quickly and robotically.
Watson also claims that he wanted to leave the so-called Family but was too afraid of Manson to do so. He wants us to believe that he was Manson's little minion, merely following orders, but he was very assertive and brutal to his victims and Manson was not there. He could have walked away at any time. He made a choice and he made that choice because he was a cold-blooded, vicious killer who wanted to hurt people.
I was put off by the religious quotes and assertions heavily laced throughout the pages. I have nothing against religion and my own beliefs but I do not need a multiple murderer to lecture me on how I should live and how our society should raise our children. I also have no sympathy for Watson's bemoaning his circumstances and how the general public refuses to view him as anything but a murdering monster. I have no idea if he truly is a Christian but my gut instinct is that Christianity is merely a means to an end (i.e., incarceration) to him and maybe even a money-making venture. Should I be wrong, I still believe that he owes a debt to society and that is to be paid with his freedom.
I found it ironic and unintentionally humorous that while he states firmly that he prefers to be called "Charles" and "Tex" was a person he no longer is, he chose to use that very moniker on the cover of this book. Hypocritical? Yes. Looking to sell more books and make more money via the connection with the person he claims to no longer be? Absolutely.
And while the journalist/interviewer/author asked a few good questions, there was a serious lack of follow up. Maybe because the questions were submitted on paper, with Watson replying and no opportunity for the journalist/interviewer/author to expound. If so, it's a disappointment. Case in point - Watson claims that Manson and one other Family member returned to the Tate/Polanski home after the murders and changed the crime scene. There was no follow up question, not even a "Did Manson tell you this himself?"
In short, I found this book to be a self-serving piece of garbage with an ultimate goal of rehabilitating Watson's image and securing his release from prison. I don't believe for a moment that he is truly rehabilitated nor that he belongs anywhere but where he currently is. It's been 45 years since the crimes and he still has yet to take full responsibility for his part on this particularly sad part of American history. Tex Watson was a conman in 1969 and he remains a conman in 2013.
Would I recommend this book? If you're a serious true crime aficionado with particular leanings toward the Manson crimes, sure - - but don't expect real information or any truth from him. And only if you manage to snag this book for free, as I did. Otherwise, give it and its posturing "author" a pass.
Restless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family’s Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for Justice is the latest entry into the substantial co...moreRestless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family’s Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for Justice is the latest entry into the substantial collection of books written about the Manson murders and at first glance, it may seem an unwanted and unneeded addition into an oversaturated, even weary, market. Don’t let the number of books preceding it affect your decision to pass this one by. It’s well worth your time and effort.
This case has long been one that I have had a particular interest in. Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry’s classic about the crimes, was the first book in the true crime genre that I read. Since then, I have reread it many times and the senseless horror never fails to create an uneasy pit in my stomach. Of all the Manson victims, Sharon Tate was the most pathetic and the most notorious; perhaps for this reason I felt a particular sadness over her death.
Finding Restless Souls was hitting the literary lottery for me. After more than forty years, this was an account of how the Tate family dealt with the aftermath of the most well known murders of the 20th century and how the brutal killing of her daughter led Sharon’s mother Doris to forcefully advocate for victims’ families.
A good quarter or so of the book deals with Sharon and the time before the murders. I appreciated reading about the true Sharon, as her family saw her and knew her. Authors Alisa Statman and Brie Tate (nee Ford, Sharon’s niece) pull no punches in using journals written by P.J. and Doris Tate, as well as Sharon’s sister Patti (and Brie’s late mother). They admit to Sharon’s drug usage, as well as usage by her former fiancé and fellow victim, Jay Sebring, and the debt he was in following the crimes. Reading Sebring’s despondency over Sharon’s pregnancy, still pining for her and hoping that she would return to him once her marriage ended, and knowing they would die together was particularly heartbreaking. Sharon is presented as particularly human, no saint but certainly not the questionable “live freaky, die freaky” character that’s been oft-repeated since her death. Rather, she is shown as a loving and devoted daughter and sister, a fierce animal lover, a woman who cried reading Tess of the D’Urbervilles and encouraged her husband that it would make a wonderful film (a film he made in 1979, dedicating it to her). For Sharon Tate fans who like her with only the gauzy light of reality on her, they may not be pleased; for those who want to know the real Sharon, good and bad, this is a slice of heaven.
The bulk of Restless Souls deals with the after effects of murder on the living victims, not just the Tate family but the Parent family and various families that Doris Tate would go on to help. These were the difficult parts of the book to read. The raw anguish of the Tates’ suffering comes off every page, making it at times necessary to put the book down, even just for a moment. And a moment was about as long as I could stand to put it down, so anxious I was to continue on this uneasy journey with Sharon’s family. Doris Tate, despite her resistance to be categorized as such, was a true heroine - - a strong fighter who took the greatest tragedy of her life and dedicated herself to trying to prevent the same horror happening to others. PJ Tate, following the death of his daughter, took to the streets himself in search of his child’s killers and his investigation is included, to fascinating effect. Particularly interesting to me was Tate’s confrontation with killer Charles “Tex” Watson, an encounter that left the cold and heartless killer shaken. Patti Tate’s story, while less well known than her mother’s, is no less sad; only ten years old in 1969, she idolized her older sister and felt she never had the chance to give Sharon a proper goodbye and spent many years not acknowledging or speaking of her.
The only weak part of Restless Souls, in this reader’s opinion, was the replay of the murders in which the thoughts and feelings of the victims are discussed. As this is pure conjecture taken from Patti’s unpublished memoir and written as fact, it’s a bit disconcerting. However, it’s a small flaw compared to the overall strength of the book, which includes showing not only Sharon but Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger and Woyteck Frykowski as actual people and not just victims. (There is no information on Steven Parent because the Tates and their friends did not know him).
Restless Souls is a worthy companion to Helter Skelter, the latter discussing the crimes, detection of the killers and their trials, a memoir of pain and heartache as well as a nod to Doris, PJ and Patti Tate’s dedication and a reminder that Sharon Tate was more than a beautiful murder victim. I would not hesitate to highly recommend it.
Since 1985, I have had a long, twisting journey with the Jeffrey MacDonald case. It started with Fatal Vision, the miniseries, and progressed to Fatal...moreSince 1985, I have had a long, twisting journey with the Jeffrey MacDonald case. It started with Fatal Vision, the miniseries, and progressed to Fatal Vision, the book about the case penned by Joe McGinniss. I followed those over time with The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm, Fatal Justice by Jerry Allen Potter and Fred Bost and Scales of Justice by Christina Masewicz. I visited various websites and read anything I could find about the case. Throughout the years my views on the case changed dramatically. I penned my changing thoughts here (at my book review site). In short, I believed MacDonald was guilty but something was off with the case, then there was a great chance that MacDonald was innocent and wrongly imprisoned and, finally, that MacDonald was guilty of the horrible crimes he was convicted of.
When I heard that filmmaker Errol Morris (he of the documentary The Thin Blue Line, which helped to free Randall Dale Adams, wrongly convicted of the murder of a Dallas police officer) had written a book in which he takes on the government's case against MacDonald, I knew that I had to read it.
I will admit that I went into this book deadset on MacDonald's guilt and mentally telling myself that no matter what Mr. Morris wrote in his book, I simply couldn't believe that MacDonald was anything less than guilty. Perhaps not exactly fair to Mr. Morris but given that the murders happened in 1970, MacDonald was convicted in 1979 and so much has been written about the case, both for and against MacDonald, it's not surprising.
If you are not well read or versed on the MacDonald case, A Wilderness of Error is probably not the place to start. Not because it's not well written - - because it is and Mr. Morris does a fine job of supporting his statements. But the book reads for someone already familiar with the background of the murders and the lengthy process in which MacDonald was brought to justice as the background of the crimes themselves is not nearly in-depth as the follow-up.
Mr. Morris excels at bringing to life Helena Stoeckley, the young hippie girl bearing a remarkable resemblance to one of the intruders MacDonald described to the military police following the murders, and who was to be the smoking gun for the defense during the 1979 trial. As Ms. Stoeckley herself was deceased by the time Mr. Morris began research for his book, he did interview family members, neighbors and people who knew and associated with her. She is presented both as a police informant living in Fayetteville's Haymount neighborhood (and hippie district), who partook in drugs and witchcraft and the sad, depleted woman MacDonald and his attorneys hung their hopes on.
Mr. Morris also shone a bright and unforgiving light on Colette MacDonald's mother and stepfather Mildred and Freddy Kassab. The Kassabs were presented in McGinniss' Fatal Vision as the martyred and heartsick family members who made it their life mission to bring their daughter's and granddaughters' killer to justice. Freddy Kassab, in particular, was the tenacious bulldog who grabbed ahold of Jeffrey MacDonald and wouldn't let go, joining forces with the government's prosecutors to see that his former son-in-law had his freedom taken away. The information that Mr. Morris outlined in his book, and supported by long-time friends of the family, is vastly different than the majority of what I have read and it did give me pause.
Mr. Morris didn't appear to have a lot of communications with MacDonald himself and that, to me, is a shortcoming with the book. What small amount of communication he did have was saved for the conclusion of the book. He is honest in his presentation - - that MacDonald is unlikable, annoying and quite full of himself but a good doctor and some of his off-putting qualities make him a good surgeon.
Perhaps Mr. Morris' strongest argument for MacDonald lies within the weakness of the government's supposed shoe-in evidence. He takes on their pajama top experiment and invalidates their results, as well as their assertion that saran hair fibers found in a hairbrush at the crime scene were not those of one of the MacDonald children's dolls but had come from a wig. Helena Stoeckley owned a wig of the same color as those hairs found and during one of her confessions, claimed to be wearing that wig at the time of the crimes.
Despite my assertions that I would not be moved by Mr. Morris' writing, I was. He made a clear and concise argument that Jeffrey MacDonald did not receive a fair trial - - from Judge Dupree's relationship with the original prosecutor (his son-in-law) to inaccurate government tests that were presented as gospel to threats of prosecution given to Helena Stoeckley should she testify to being present at the crime scene and vouching for MacDonald's innocence - - and there was no shortage of reasonable doubt.
A Wilderness of Error did not change my stance on MacDonald guilt or innocence, however well written it was. And here is why. I can throw out all the evidence - - the blood evidence, the pajama top, the bedsheets, the fibers, Helena Stoeckley's confessions and recanting of same . . . but what gets me is the difference between MacDonald's injuries and those inflicted on his family. If a group of drug addicted hippies wanted to get even with MacDonald for ratting them out or not giving them drugs or whatever their reasoning may have been, wouldn't they have taken the largest threat - - MacDonald - - and eliminated him first? Why attack a pregnant woman and two little girls - - a 5 year old and a 2 year old - - before even addressing MacDonald? Why crush the skulls of a woman and a 5 year old and leave MacDonald with one bruise on his head? A bruise with no broken skin? Why would MacDonald have one clean cut to his chest when his wife and children suffered many? One daughter had over thirty stab wounds. Does it make sense to massacre two children who could never identify one intruder and leave behind the one person who could?
None of that makes sense to me and taking that into consideration, I can't believe MacDonald's story about hippie intruders. What I can believe though is that he didn't get a fair trial and guilty or innocent, everyone deserves a fair trial. So while I think he's guilty, he was wrongfully convicted and that's just not right.
For those of you out there that have a similar obsession with the MacDonald case, I would not hesitate to recommend A Wilderness of Error. If you appreciate true crime and are unfamiliar with the case, I would suggest some background research through one of the handful of sites devoted to the case on the Internet or reading Fatal Vision, Fatal Journey or Scales of Justice. (The Journalist and the Murderer is about Joe McGinniss' role in his relationship with MacDonald and resulting lawsuit and not about the case itself).
Very well done, Mr. Morris. You presented us with a well-written, thought provoking book and one that may expose the many missteps of the government to the public.
Being that these crimes happened only a few years back and in my current backyard, and knowing that Caitlin Rother writes well researched and written...moreBeing that these crimes happened only a few years back and in my current backyard, and knowing that Caitlin Rother writes well researched and written books, I anticipated reading Lost Girls. The book left a sad, bitter and frustrated taste in my mouth.
Author Caitlin Rother supplied stellar investigative writing. She wrote with so much description that she brought victims Amber and Chelsea to life on the pages. They came across much more vividly than their killer, which is a wonderful change to many true crime books where the killer is the so-called star of the show. Perhaps it helps that Gardner’s victim count was thankfully low or perhaps it speaks of Ms. Rother’s desire to not glorify the crimes. I have found Ms. Rother’s other true crime works to be equally well balanced and I applaud her efforts.
Even with her desire not to delve into unnecessary detail about the atrocities Amber and Chelsea suffered, the crimes were obviously horrendous. Horrendous in what was emotionally and physically done to the young girls but also in how the crimes themselves tore away the fabric of safety that permeated the bedroom communities where the girls lived and from where they were abducted. Once that layer of security has been ripped away it’s hard to replace and Gardner is guilty of murdering the innocence present in the northern San Diego area.
Ms. Rother did a fantastic job on Gardner’s background and formative years. I was alternately stunned, saddened and angered by the many abuses and red flags that were present in his childhood and adolescence that were either ignored or glossed over by family members and health professionals. I hate to use the term “perfect storm” but Gardner’s upbringing and environment seemed to me to be a perfect storm for creating a monster. Gardner’s mother gave me the most aggravation. I can understand defending your child but this mother seemed to be in denial and appears to continue to be in denial. I will stop short of calling her an enabler; after all, she didn’t cause her son to be a killer and no parent deserves the grief of knowing your child has taken the lives of others but I have no tolerance for excuse making and she thoroughly put me off through the course of the book.
I was also shocked at how the healthcare system, particularly the mental healthcare system, appeared to fail Gardner. Time and again he was proven to have problems. Time and again it was clear he needed intervention, he needed medication, he needed professional help. Even when he himself asked for it, it was denied. Why? I can’t help but wonder if the proper help was given, would Amber Dubois and Chelsea King be alive today?
Most enlightening and hair raising is the section at the end of the book, where Ms. Rother had an interview with Gardner. This may be the truest Gardner seen, other than that monster seen by Amber and Chelsea, his victims who survived and that brief flash of rage in the courtroom. I felt for the families of the girls, neither of whom wanted this book published and understandably so but I think it’s an insightful look into a cruel and twisted mind and a real lesson for us as a whole. I felt extended grief for Amber Dubois’ family, who didn’t learn about her fate for over a year and for whose search for their loved one didn’t garner as much media attention as the search for Chelsea King would a year later.
I am filled with sadness for both of these young girls who had so much to offer. Both of them could have, and likely would have, made a difference in this world and Gardner deprived society of them. Their lives were just beginning and he decided to snuff them out, for his own demented and selfish reasons. Knowing he is in prison, where he will remain for the rest of his life, is a small comfort.
For fans of true crime, I would recommend Lost Girls. It’s not an easy read and while the pages will go quickly, it can easily weigh you down. With the writing so well done and facts not previously publicly known (due to the lack of a trial) being shared, Lost Girls is a must-read and should be required reading for any criminal justice or psychology student.
Very well done, Ms. Rother. Your work is thought provoking and yet very respectful.
Fans of the true crime genre will rejoice with another entry to add to their library, Poisoned Love by Caitlin Rother. In the style of Ann Rule, a tru...moreFans of the true crime genre will rejoice with another entry to add to their library, Poisoned Love by Caitlin Rother. In the style of Ann Rule, a true crime favorite of mine, Ms. Rother delves deep into the background and psyche of not only the accused but the victims as well and provides painstaking detail of the crime, the trial and the aftermath.
Reading Poisoned Love will make it clear to the reader that Ms. Rother spent an inordinate amount of time on her research and with admirable results. Every person introduced in her work has a voice, not just "friend of the victim", "co-worker of the accused", etc. This is perhaps the strongest point of Poisoned Love in my opinion - - rather than merely being "the victim", Greg de Villers is presented as a real human being, with thoughts, dreams and aspirations and you feel sadness and even grief at his life ending prematurely. Ms. Rother also does a good job at presenting the de Villers family's sense of loss and helplessness as Greg's brother Jerome fights to prove his brother did not take his own life.
The accused, Kristin Rossum, remained an enigma for me even after finishing the book. She exemplified the brainy beauty who should have had it all but threw it all away for drugs, for an illicit affair, and/or for narcissism. She was frightening to a degree in her cold natured indifference and the void that seemed to be present in her makeup.
While Ms. Rother's attention to detail is commendable, for some readers it may be a bit too much. The book itself is hefty (coming in at just under 500 paperback pages) and there were a few sections where I felt it dragged a bit and portions could likely have been minimized or cut so as to keep the story moving fluidly.
Even having watched a true crime program or two on this case and knowing the outcome, I was drawn into the book and learned many facts of the case I had not previously known. In short, I thought Poisoned Love was extremely well written and researched and one of the better true crime books for those who want an in-depth look at the case rather than merely glorified violence.
I would not hesitate to recommend Poisoned Love to a true crime buff or to any reader looking to explore the genre. Caitlin Rother is certainly an author to watch out for and one that will be on my "must read" list.
I am one of the few people on the planet who don't think In Cold Blood is the definitive true crime classic - - in fact, I didn't finish it because it...moreI am one of the few people on the planet who don't think In Cold Blood is the definitive true crime classic - - in fact, I didn't finish it because it simply didn't live up to expectations for me. So I cannot compare Bringing Adam Home directly to it although I will say that this recent book on the noteworthy and law changing Adam Walsh case left me disappointed.
The writing itself was well done and I found no fault with author Les Standiford, who with more than twenty books under his belt is indeed a professional. However, the book felt both anemic and strangely bloated. While reading through the text I felt that much of the informaton was repeated ad nauseaum. It is fact that suspect Ottis Toole gave more than eight confessions to this horrific crime to various detectives but I didn't feel it was necessary to recount each and every confession unless his recounting had significantly changed.
I wish more emphasis had been placed on the Walshes themselves, and the wonderful work they did in the aftermath of this incredible tragedy, rather than so much of the spotlight being placed on Toole and his lover and fellow serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. As a long time reader of true crime I know that the majority of books dealing with crime focus extensively on the perpetrators, out of necessity, and the victims themselves often lose their individual voices but I felt this book had a prime opportunity to really present this case from the victims' standpoints and it didn't quite do that in my opinion.
In addition to disappointment, the book left me frustrated and angry on behalf of the Walshes. In recounting the case it's glaringly obvious that the case should have been officially solved and closed back in 1983, two years after the murder, when Lead Detective Jack Hoffman was given the multiple confessions of Toole. However, for reasons probably best known to him, he stubbornly refused to believe Toole guilty of the murder, much less arrest and charge him. Granted, it was 1981 but the way the Hollywood Police Department handled the Walsh case is a textbook example of how not to handle missing and murdered children.
Given its graphic subject matter and descriptions, Bringing Adam Home is not for the sensitive or squeamish reader. There is violence aplenty and rude language so reader beware. However, Bringing Adam Home is a fascinating study of law enforcement and detecting gone wrong and should be required reading for any person looking into the field of law enforcement.
I am an avid reader of Ann Rule's books and eagerly await each of her new releases. Because I am such a fan of Ms. Rule I can always find positives ev...moreI am an avid reader of Ann Rule's books and eagerly await each of her new releases. Because I am such a fan of Ms. Rule I can always find positives even if those books that are not my favorites of hers. In the Still of the Night was no different.
From a novice writer In the Still of the Night would be a passably good true crime selection. From Ann Rule, author of the flawless Small Sacrifices, Stranger Beside Me and her True Crimes Files series,among others, it's a bit of a disappointment. For one, I felt that the story was simply not strong enough to be a stand alone book and would have been better served being the central, title story of a True Crime Files volume. The sheer number of pages from being a stand alone book (over 400 pages) made the story feel a bit slow paced and slightly bogged down; compared to being an entry in a True Crime Files volume, where it would clock in at least half the number of pages.
My biggest letdown with In the Still of the Night was the unresolved conclusion. When I read true crime, and I invest my time and energy reading the story and getting to know the victim(s), I want to have closure in my mind that the victim(s) and families have justice. There is no such resolution in this book. It is through no fault of Ms. Rule's and she does lay out a substantial list of possible suspects at the conclusion of the book, as well as a reward for further information on Ronda Reynolds' death, but the unfinished business surrounding Ronda Reynolds' death makes me feel that perhaps this particular crime, or alleged crime, may not have been the best subject for a book.
On the upside, Ms. Rule became personally acquainted and involved with Ronda Reynolds' family and it shows in the pages of the book. I felt as though I grew to know her tenacious mother, Barb Thompson, as I flipped the pages and this admirable woman is to be admired. She does the memory of her daughter proud and I felt her heartache and pain as strongly as if they were my own.
I also believed that Ms. Rule did well in writing former police officer turned private investigator Jerry Berry, expert Marty Hughes and longtime friend to Ronda Reynolds David Bell. These were all people to be admired and they were more than just names in the book.
I do hope that In the Still of the Night creates a very belated proper investigation into what I too consider to be a questionable death, giving Ronda Reynolds justice and her family and friends the peace and closure they deserve.
But I Trusted You is the fourteenth volume in author Ann Rule's "Crime Files" series, where she takes a novel length case, makes it the main focus of...moreBut I Trusted You is the fourteenth volume in author Ann Rule's "Crime Files" series, where she takes a novel length case, makes it the main focus of the book and throws in several "smaller" type cases as well. As much as I have enjoyed Ms. Rule's previous efforts, But I Trusted You left me wanting and a bit disappointed.
Let's start with the feature length case, which concerns the murder of teacher Chuck Leonard by his estranged wife Teresa. I personally did not find anything noteworthy with this case, whether it be that the actual case was a "by the book" spousal homicide or too much was left on the editing room floor. I wish there had been more background on both Chuck and Teresa and would have been happier if this had been one of the "shorter" cases included, allowing room for another true crime case to be included in this volume. I also thought the title did not coordinate with the case, as Chuck and Teresa were already separated and initiating divorce at the time of Chuck's death and neither Chuck nor Teresa trusted the other.
The second case profiled "Death in Paradise" was a very interesting case but without a firm resolution. I felt as though the story was just skimmed on the surface and the ending left me feeling unsatisfied. Perhaps this would have been a better "featured" case, but with more information on all parties concerned. The title of this book, however, did fit the alleged facts of this case.
The title also fits "Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth", the third case profiled. This case was very sad to read as the laws of the 1970s prevented the victim from obtaining the protection she was seeking. Any parent reading this story will have a feeling of dread putting yourself in the victim's shoes.
"Monohan's Last Date" deals with the most vicious and cold blooded killer in the book. I felt this case had more detail than any other highlighted in the book.
"Run as Fast as You Can" seemed out of place in But I Trusted You. The killer and victim had no prior relationship and no trust issues. Perhaps the victim felt safe due to location and time but, again, it seemed an odd choice given the theme of the book.
Both "The Deadly Voyeur" and "Dark Forest: Deep Danger" dealt with individuals who ultimately put their trust in the wrong people, with fatal results. I did not like the somewhat ambiguous ending of "Dark Forest: Deep Danger" though.
Ann Rule's earlier Crime Files were fantastic, well written slices of true crime. Finishing this book, I couldn't help but wonder if she was scraping the bottom of the barrel with these. Don't get me wrong - - Ann Rule has long been my favorite true crime writer and she remains so. Her book on the Diane Downs murder investigation and case, Small Sacrifices, is one of the best written and accounted true crime masterpieces out there, as well as her tale of the Ted Bundy case, The Stranger Beside Me. For that reason, I always have very high standards for her books and this one just didn't quite peak for me.
But I Trusted You is a decent enough book and will certainly do if you are looking for a true crime compellation but I expect more from my Queen of True Crime.
From the 1994 convictions of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, I have been interested in this case and read everything I could on it...moreFrom the 1994 convictions of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, I have been interested in this case and read everything I could on it. Without a doubt, the best resource is Mara Leverett's excellent recounting, Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three. With the same tenacity and brutal honesty she displayed in The Boys on the Tracks (another excellent read), Ms. Leveritt, an Arkansas resident herself, pulls no punches in shining a harsh light on three young men wrongfully convicted by a community desperate to hold someone accountable for terrible acts.
Devil's Knot will drop you right into the small town of West Memphis, Arkansas and take you through the crimes, the circus of an investigation, the questioning of suspects, the circumstantial evidence, the trials and the convictions. She brings life to not only the three boys who were killed but the three young men who found themselves at the center of the controversy because of their penchant to wear black, their style in music and their low incomes.
Having covered the trials for her local paper, Ms. Leveritt has been enmeshed in this case from the beginning and her close proximity to locale and residents is evident in her writing. It is flawless; not only does she take you to the scene, as mentioned above, but she makes you feel. I was overwhelmed with feelings of sadness, anger, despair, disgust, rage and loss while reading this book. Regardless of your feelings on the guilt or innocence of The West Memphis Three, the local police's coercion, laziness and lack of a cohesive investigation, along with the prosecutorial misconduct and the judge's bias, should make your blood boil. Shoddy police work aside, the trials were anything but fair, allowing community hysteria to take over, evidence to be fabricated and questionable testimony to become expert. From the start these three young men didn't have a chance and Ms. Leveritt puts that on blast.
In the hands of a lesser journalist, Devil's Knot could easily have become a dime-store paperback; one that told the basic tale, glorifying the violence, but without any real depth. In Ms. Leveritt's able hands, this is a must-read for not only true crime junkies but also for anyone in the legal field. This is a lesson on how not to rush to judgment, how not to conduct an investigation, how not to speak to the press.
While this book was written in 2002, nearly ten years before Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were released from prison, it's still the best read you will find on the case. Not a stone was left unturned in Ms. Leveritt's quest to find justice not only for The West Memphis Three but for the children killed.
I would not hesitate to recommend Devil's Knot to anyone wanting to learn about the investigation into the West Memphis crimes, the trials and the wrongful convictions. The story of The West Memphis Three and what can happen from public hysteria should scare the hell out of you.
"Everything She Ever Wanted" by Ann Rule is the true story of Patricia Vann Radcliffe Taylor Allanson, a Georgia woman who envisioned herself as a mod...more"Everything She Ever Wanted" by Ann Rule is the true story of Patricia Vann Radcliffe Taylor Allanson, a Georgia woman who envisioned herself as a modern day Scarlett O'Hara and systematically tore anyone and everyone down who stood in her way of that fantasy. Ms. Rule does an excellent job of researching Pat's childhood as a spoiled and selfish little girl who was coddled constantly by her family, who aged to become a spoiled and self-centered adult who never really truly grew up. Reading about her childhood and the complete lack of boundaries she had, while her family continually fawned over her and found no wrong with absolutely anything she did, had me angered and annoyed. Could fate have been changed if her parents had put their foot down with her? We will never know. Pat's brother ended up a suicide; her mother and father in law murdered; her husband's grandparents poisoned; an elderly employer poisoned; even her own daughter was poisoned. During it all Pat hid behind her frail, helpless female exterior, conveniently fainting when confronted with anything unpleasant, and keeping the mask of her sociopathic character hidden, with absolutely no remorse or concern for the havoc and path of destruction she left behind. This story was so fascinating, so unbelievable that it had to be true. Definitely one of Ms. Rule's very best works. Highly recommended(less)