John Woodington's Reviews > Stalking Mary

Stalking Mary by Eileen Bridgeman Biernat
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Jul 19, 11

bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in July, 2011

The trouble with writing a book in the same vein as In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences is that it will inevitably warrant comparrison, and it will likely not stand up. Biernat's retelling of a disturbing crime in Minnesota in 1980 is definitely a page turner, though that may be more due to its content than the writing itself. Biernat takes a journalistic approach to the writing most of the time, but often times strays from the factual and goes into what neighbors and parents "must have been feeling" at the time of the kidnappings--information to which she would not have access.

The main trouble with this book is the character of Ming Shieu, the kidnapper and rapist. He is terrifyingly creepy, and Biernat does a good job describing his mental state. Despite his unsettling character, he doesn't show any signs of inner conflict. He doesn't seem to struggle with himself at any point during the kidnapping, confinement, and rape. His main conflict is his quest to fulfill his desire to start a family with his kidnapped victims. Without this added layer of depth, Ming ends up feeling a little flat. He also negates Biernat's ability to comment on the nature of his crimes, other than saying they are bad/terrible/horrendous/unthinkable.

I read this book in one sitting, which I never do (though I did skim/skip a couple sections--mainly the details of how things predictably played out). It's a fast, engaging read, but doesn't reach to the human depth of other works in the genre.
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