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All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the Superstar Whose Life Ended on Murderers' Row

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Aaron Hernandez was a college All-American who became the youngest player in the NFL and later reached the Super Bowl. His every move as a tight end with the New England Patriots played out the headlines, yet he led a secret life--one that ended in a maximum-security prison. What drove him to go so wrong, so fast?

Between the summers of 2012 and 2013, not long after Hernandez made his first Pro Bowl, he was linked to a series of violent incidents culminating in the death of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player who dated the sister of Hernandez's fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins.

All-American Murder is the first book to investigate Aaron Hernandez's first-degree murder conviction and the mystery of his own shocking and untimely death.

400 pages, Hardcover

First published January 22, 2018

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About the author

James Patterson

1,503 books340k followers
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JIMMY Patterson Books

James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author. Among his creations are Alex Cross, the Women’s Murder Club, Michael Bennett, and Maximum Ride. His #1 bestselling nonfiction includes Walk in My Combat Boots, Filthy Rich, and his autobiography, James Patterson by James Patterson. He has collaborated on novels with Bill Clinton and Dolly Parton and has won an Edgar Award, nine Emmy Awards, and the National Humanities Medal.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 946 reviews
Profile Image for Matt.
3,719 reviews12.8k followers
March 14, 2018
Capitalising on some ‘pulled from the headlines’ impetus, James Patterson collaborates with Alex Abramovich and Mike Harvkey to bring readers into the troubled life of former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, exploring his rise to fame before he stumbled and crashed into a legal quagmire that would eventually lead to his suicide in 2017. While football may not have been the first thing people considered when mentioning Connecticut, anyone who had heard of Aaron Hernandez might feel differently. A powerhouse in high school, Hernandez excelled both on the field and along the basketball court. His phenomenal rise to fame saw college scouts attending many of his games, hoping to secure his talents with lucrative financial offers. However, Hernandez was not all about football in his small community. Both he and members of his family had ties to gangs and drug dealers, something that Hernandez used to his advantage throughout his high school career. After graduating at seventeen, Hernandez made the leap to college ball, choosing the University of Florida over the local UConn, where he obtained an early taste of stardom. He could walk around town and be noticed, receiving freebies at every turn. Additionally, he could waltz into clubs and be the centre of attention, though this might sometimes lead to a flair in that Puerto Rican temper for which he was so well known back home. After numerous dust-ups and shady ties to local dealers, Hernandez began to subsist in a life away from football, where guns, weed, and other illicit items crossed his path on a daily basis. Still, as a star player, some of his failed drug tests were swept under the rug so that Hernandez could remain on the field. When it was time for the NFL Draft, Hernandez went in a later round, much to his dismay, but was chosen by the illustrious New England Patriots, a team on the verge of creating a dynastic powerhouse. His playing days were filled with receptions and his star continued to rise, still being protected by the team. However, Hernandez began to run in some very troubling circles, dodging being fingered at brawls and shootings by mere minutes. When a disagreement with an acquaintance went too far and the man lay dead from gunshot wounds, Henandez ended up with literal blood all over his hands and tried to play it cool, only to lead police to his doorstep. In a shocking revelation, the sports world was abuzz when Aaron Hernandez was arrested for murder, forcing the NFL and Patriots to rush in the other direction, their attempt to disassociate with him at soon as possible. Hernandez left evidence at the scene and created a tepid alibi soon dispelled by the prosecutor. Stunned, football fans watched as Hernandez went to trial for over two months before a verdict came in. From there, the spiral down seemed never-ending, with an abyss awaiting him, his future forever tarnished. While the NFL had dealt with many errant active players, the Aaron Hernandez situation might have been its largest stain to date. The authors run with this story and have created a wonderful read, easy for anyone with a passing interest to digest. Less the traditional Patterson fare, but still highly entertaining and a great filler read.

I have noticed that Patterson has been busy as he branches out in many directions of late, tapping into the world of non-fictional crime to broaden his horizons. Working alongside Alex Abramovich—a collaborator on some of his BookShot short pieces—and Mike Harvkey, Patterson brings to life this second famous individual who found a life of crime too tempting to leave on the shelf. Aaron Hernandez is the central character, obviously, and his rise to fame is shown effectively in the early parts of the book, as this young phenom gets an early taste of the limelight. His play on the field could not be discounted, even if individuals knew all about his extra-curricular activities. However, this quick intoxication and seeming ‘untouchable’ status is shown as the book progresses, allowing the reader to revel in the continues foibles. The authors illustrate this on numerous occasions as the reader can see red flags popping up throughout. The narrative builds effectively, offering the reader more detail with each chapter—short, in the Patterson style—and culminates in Hernandez’s personal realisation that he had lost it all, though the epilogue does open a new set of questions. The writing style is effective in a non-fiction sense and keeps the reader wanting more, without getting too outlandish. There are a significant number of facts layered throughout, though the pile is not overwhelming and permits the reader to digest it all. The impact of this helps push the story through to the end, attempting to secure the reader’s belief that Hernandez was guilty and deserved his incarceration. Unfortunately, in a way, there are many superstars whose lives could be detailed in such a book, leaving me to hope that Patterson will find more to publish in the years to come.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson, Abramovich, and Harvkey. This was an wonderfully entertaining piece and
I hope more collaborations will permit readers to see other cases like this receiving their time in the spotlight.

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
Profile Image for Tabby.
38 reviews4 followers
January 24, 2018
I could not put this book down. I bought it a few hours ago and stayed up until 4am reading it. It was written so well and had so much information I never knew about. I was a fan of Hernandez, until it came to light that he was involved in Lloyd’s murder. The story fascinated me and still does. Patterson did an amazing job writing about it and the details he used. Truly a great read!
Profile Image for Stacey.
874 reviews161 followers
April 13, 2018
Aaron Hernandez is big deal in the NFL. The news of the crimes he committed is a big deal. As this was happening, it was off my radar so I was unfamiliar with Aaron Hernandez and the crime. Lucky for me I get everything all wrapped up in a book.

I was so impressed with Patterson's last true crime Filthy Rich, I had high expectations for All-American Murder. I was left a little underwhelmed. The timeline was good starting from Hernandez's youth to his last days in prison. This guy was such a nincompoop. Not a likable guy AT ALL. I didn't have one ounce of empathy. If that was what the authors were trying to convey, I'd say well done. You nailed it.
Profile Image for Erin .
1,230 reviews1,142 followers
April 3, 2019
I'm not a fan of Football. Its just not my jam, I'm a Basketball & Figure Skating girl. Despite the fact that I don't watch Football, even I know who the New England Patriots are(the only other teams I know are the Cincinnati Bengals & the Cleveland Browns) but the first time I heard the name Aaron Hernandez was when I watched clips of his murder trial. As a True Crime fanatic, I love a celebrity trial more than anything else.

All American Murder tells the stranger than fiction tale of star Football player Aaron Hernandez. If the known evidence is to be believed Hernandez murdered at least 5 people and maimed 2 others. He committed this crimes while a member of the NFL team the New England Patriots. Hernandez was a multi millionaire with a bright future but for some reason he chose to hang out with known gang members and drug dealers. Most people who live the life of a thug want the life Hernandez was leading. Its rare for someone to get rich and then become a thug.

I've watched True Crime shows about Aaron Hernandez, I've read articles about Aaron Hernandez, and now I've read this book about Aaron Hernandez but I still have no clue what made this man tick.

Was it the death of his father?

Was it the fact that as a star athlete and was never told No?

Was is CTE?

I tend to think it was all of the above.

Aaron Hernandez was a terrible person so instead of giving Aaron Hernandez more shine, I think we should instead remember Odin Lloyd. Odin was a beloved son, a beloved brother, a beloved friend, and he seemed like a genuinely nice person. He was a hard working man with 2 jobs who played non professional Football in his spare time. Odin Lloyd should still be here but for no reason that makes any sense he's gone and I think the world is a darker place without him. I of course never met Odin Lloyd but I still recognize the humanity in him.Odin Lloyd made the horrible mistake of befriending a monster and he paid for that mistake with his life.

All American Murder was better than I thought it would be. I have a love/hate relationship with James Patterson but this book falls on the love side. A truly good read.
Profile Image for Laura.
636 reviews124 followers
December 26, 2021
This story was incredibly sad. A number of things drew me in. An interest in football since I was in our high school band and would play at all games. The settings Conn. Boston and Florida. The effect of fame on the psyche. Traumatic brain injury. Rampant drug use in a high performer. The sometimes hard to face truth that we may never really know anyone else.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,272 reviews556 followers
February 19, 2018
Non-fiction like this opens a window into an entire life in such a way that rarely, rarely makes it into the 364.1523 classification. Patterson has his name on it and the feature of short chapters is recognizable from forms used within his fiction work. But there is where all comparisons stop, IMHO. This just seems a better level of observation, and especially context nuance and particulars- down to conversation phone, recordings, video records that put them all into Aaron's mouth, eyes, movements.

It's all there. The strange antagonistic love-hate relationship with all who are close or closest. His self-identity of being powerful and unstoppable (and nearly omnipotent too at times). And also his split (love you and then charm or kill you depending upon the location) reactions that reflect who he is and to whom his audience has become momentarily. All of that and more. And it seems, to me it does, that it is THERE from the very beginning of his perceiving as a younger brother and child with daddy crying over his triumphs Aaron. Yet definitely made stronger with a resentment upgrade boost of the viscous from his father's death at exactly the juncture of his elevating out of just a "high school star jock" context into a full blown phenom.

Aaron had CTE. But Aaron had far more than just CTE to parse the tone of his life. And way before football was a lifestyle dominant core of it. Then add an entire lifetime of doing drugs and especially the PCP and other neuro altering substances daily upon the massive marijuana and alcohol intakes! He even had them in his blood system during prison tests.

NFL absolutely enabled. And money in this case was a lethal dose to form a horrendous recipe. The Patriots and Belichick (BOTH) definitely have some "butter side up" reasoning for the overlooks enabled and allowed. I'm sure they are not alone within NFL company for that easy level of relative assumptions either. And I was once a HUGE NFL fan. No more. Count at least as many reasons as I have fingers on one hand.

I really admire how they (authors) absolutely carved so many different humans in this book, down to a fine chisel. In all of those "locale" groups, or some say gangs, or some say teams, or some say "friends" within 3 or 4 states combined to form the "surround" for his story. And how they did bridge some truth (especially in the photographs) about so many of them named and described. The hanger-on's, the best buddy, the guy who tones the hothead down on a regular and/or weekend basis, the lady friend who will also lie or hide packages! All of them.

But no picture of Bradley?? He's still alive. And also has been shot again within other drug related altercations. How can you text someone over and over about parsing a friendship with heartthrob language after the fact of that person shooting you in the head and losing you your eye? Unbelievable if you put it into fiction plotting.

An entire culture is also fully fleshed out here. It is.

Most of us can easily remember these cases on our news. Any news source. Because big sports are filled with such "hero" celebs.

Strange and bizarre life! The days at U. of F. and with the Gators was the most mesmerizing section in the book, IMHO. That part was a full 5 star. So much for reading Bible study quotes as a loving mentor emotive stimulus? How could John 3:16 become such a commodity!
Profile Image for Lisa.
621 reviews234 followers
August 11, 2019
An interesting but tragic story of the violent acts of Aaron Hernandez and his ultimate death.

Aaron Hernandez was a college All-American who became the youngest player in the NFL and later reached the Super Bowl. His every move as a tight-end for the New England Patriots played out in the headlines, yet he led a secret life. A life that ended in a maximum-security prison. What drove him to go so wrong, so fast? Between the summers of 2012 and 2013 not long after Hernandez made his first Pro Bowl, he was linked to a series of violent incidences culminating in the death of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player, who dated the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins. All-American Murder was the first book to investigate Aaron Hernandez first-degree murder conviction and the mystery of his own shocking untimely death.

All-American Murder is a interesting and thought-provoking non-fiction account of the life of Aaron Hernandez. This story is not a typical James Patterson thriller. The writing was good but not quite as descriptive as his typical novels. The story is extremely sad and frustrating. The book made it difficult to feel any sympathy for Hernandez who had it all, but couldn’t control his impulses, his paranoia or his actions. The book highlights his consumption of vast quantity of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs and his involvement in at least three murders, one attempted murder and other violent acts. The book further revealed evidence of Hernandez repeatedly lying and covering ups his own actions. All-American Murder left no doubt as to Hernandez’s guilt.

But what about brain injury? Could that have caused him to act the way he did? The book touched on the stage III CTE finding the epilogue, but it played no part in the story-telling. There was no discussion of any incidences where Hernandez was possible concussed that could have explained his unstable behavior. While I am frustrated by the story and feel great sympathy for Hernandez’s victims, I appreciate the book overall.

Publisher Little Brown/ Hachette Audio
Published January 22, 2018
Review www.bluestockingreviews.com
Profile Image for Mariah Roze.
1,019 reviews921 followers
January 30, 2020
I just watched the Netflix special and learned all about Aaron Hernandez, so naturally when I discovered that there was a book about him written by James Patterson. I had to read it. This book was very detailed and interesting. It went more in-depth about different areas than Netflix did, so it is still worth a read. I highly suggest this book :)

"Aaron Hernandez was a college All-American who became the youngest player in the NFL and later reached the Super Bowl. His every move as a tight end with the New England Patriots played out the headlines, yet he led a secret life--one that ended in a maximum-security prison. What drove him to go so wrong, so fast?
Between the summers of 2012 and 2013, not long after Hernandez made his first Pro Bowl, he was linked to a series of violent incidents culminating in the death of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player who dated the sister of Hernandez's fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins."
Profile Image for Vicki Willis.
798 reviews53 followers
April 7, 2019
To be in the wrong place at the wrong time once would be bad luck, but to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in regards to shootings and murder over and over and over creates a much different picture. I am a big football fan and remember watching Aaron Hernandez come up through college and into the Pros. How someone who had the opportunities and support he had and still chose the path he chose is hard to believe. What a waste. This book put it all in order, his life from childhood to death. It was gripping and fascinating and hard to put down. It was like watching a train wreck and not being able to look away. It makes you think about the victims and feel so badly for what their families lost.
What I didn't know is some of the other players from the NFL right now (big names!) who were involved in some of those crimes, yet got away unscathed. It does make you think about the NFL and college football programs and wonder if they are not also responsible for creating this climate.
This is a must read for football fans and also true crime fans. It was fast paced and had short chapters which made for a quick read. 5 stars from me.
Profile Image for ♥ Sandi ❣	.
1,268 reviews8 followers
October 21, 2018
4.5 stars

Such a sad story about a young man who took his life, when he had so much talent and so much to give. It is another story about a wayward young man, whose talent pushed him into the limelight, when he could not shed his dubious background.

Aaron Hernandez died while in prison, convicted of the murder of a good friend. He was a finance', a father, a son and and a brother. He had been a tight end for the Patriots football team. He was dead at 28, from an apparent suicide. CTE was said to play a big part in his death - that Aaron had the worst case of CTE in someone his age that medical doctors had ever seen.

None of this is news. Newspapers ran this story for months. Mini series have been made and shown. I am sure other books have also been published about Aaron. But I am not sure that any other medium has done it in the detail that Patterson has.

This book takes you from a very young Aaron through his murder trials, to his death. Patterson allows you to make your own decisions, due to his steady and factual portrayal of Hernandez's life. You begin to know the potential that this young man had. In following his story, you watch as Aaron becomes unstrung. You see the paranoia that sets in. You frown at his decision making. You cringe at what you see him losing.

You either like or dislike Aaron Hernandez by the end of this book. But either way, you have a better understanding of his medical condition, his decision making, his life, his love, and his losses. A sad story about a wayward young man, gone too soon.
Profile Image for Morgan.
46 reviews
July 13, 2018
I have never read a James Patterson book before, (though i often question whether ol' JP does more than rubber stamp his name on the final draft) so I was surprised at the short chapters. Page 228 of 363 was chapter 71.

I'm not sure if any new information was brought to light, but it felt pretty thorough.

Maybe too liberal use of pronouns, as at times it was confusing differentiating whether the "he" was hernandez or his friend Bradley, especially in the context of text message conversations.

The pictures don't translate in ebook format, and there was a surprising lack of pictures for such a well known public figure & criminal case.

As the first major book about the case, it was good, but I look forward to more in-depth books in the future.

The one unbelievable moment was the shameless plug that completely took me out of the book was about hernandez's reading habits in prison. I actually went back to the page, because of how absurd it was.

Chapter 71:
"Aaron wrote letters, worked out, and read, requestinh books from the jail library: michael Connelly, Dan Brown, James Patterson.

Hernandez was especially fond of Patterson's Alex Cross novels."

Are you kidding me??
Profile Image for Susan.
663 reviews5 followers
January 24, 2018
An interesting read for a Bostonian, knowing the streets and alleys where some of the murders took place and knowing a lot of the players involved (no pun intended). I found it to be pretty engrossing and read it in one day. And it left me feeling sorry for Aaron Hernandez, which is something since he was a murderer when it came right down to it.
Profile Image for Frances L Dobbs.
14 reviews1 follower
January 30, 2018
Guilty? I think not.

Maybe I'm one of the few who enjoys facts about a case. While many have boycotted this book I could not. I am a Florida girl, born and raised right here in Alachua County. Home of the Fighting Gators!
I remember Aaron playing for UF. I remember the issues he faced here and I always asked the same question... Can they prove it was him? You can put him anywhere you want in the picture but can you prove it was him?
Some may call me crazy, some will disagree with me, but hear me out..

During the Gainesville case you have one (1) man saying "Yeah yeah it was him!!" But you have several others saying " Naw it was a black man, tall, skinny with cornrows. " Can you prove it was him? No, there is no physical evidence showing he pulled the gun or shot anyone.
Moving forward....
You have evidence showing yes Aaron had a gun at him home, picture shows it. You have texts that Odin went with Aaron and two (2) other men the night of his death. You have video showing them driving and their location. This can all be proven. Now you have four (4) men in the car and one man is shot and killed. Leaves you three (3) men, all have been in trouble with the law in some shape or form. All have a reason for not wanting to go to prison for murder. But you only have (1) who is making millions and a name for himself. Yes Aaron was in trouble before and a bit of a hot head but you can't physically put that gun in his hand at the time of Odin's death can you? One man is on the stand saying "Yeah yeah he did it..." That man is a well known drug dealer and addict. And you're supposed to believe his word to save his own behind? I think not..

This book brought to light a lot of things I didn't know to begin with. It opened my eyes and I will admit at one time I believed him guilty as the rest. But no where can you put the gun in his hand at the time of that murder. Notice i said Time of that murder..
I would recommend this book for anyone looking to find the truth and understanding of Aaron Hernandez.
Profile Image for Lisa K.
162 reviews4 followers
March 14, 2018
I just finished my first James Patterson book...does anybody know of any good Aaron Hernandez books? I just wanted to know what happened but the only real info I got was that Tim Tebow and Tom Brady were so annoying to hang with that they literally drove poor Aaron to do multiple homicides?
Profile Image for Claire.
821 reviews176 followers
March 28, 2021
Extremely compelling true crime. This story has all the analysis, a bit of celeb scandal, some interesting discussion about the privilege associated with pro sport, weighed against some problematic health consequences, all of which are linked closely to the investigation into two crimes. Told in classic Patterson, bite size style, this is a propulsive read. I recommend it.
Profile Image for Paul.
815 reviews44 followers
February 19, 2018
This is a troubling, somewhat lurid book about the life, crimes, and death of Aaron Hernandez, a one-time tight end for the New England Patriots NFL team.

My takeaways: Every single owner of an NFL team is a billionaire. The NFL is a greedy, immoral organization that elevates and pays huge sums to excellent athletes for perhaps five to ten years of their lives, bashes their brains to pulp, and has long tried to ignore or minimize the epidemic of CTE--chronic traumatic encephalopathy that has been a constant issue since CTE was defined--and obviously before that, when it still went on unknowingly.

Hernandez was a brilliantly gifted athlete who, after his death by suicide in prison, was discovered to have had the worst case of CTE ever foundin someone his age. His behavior was bizarre and paranoid, and he ended up shooting and killing three people, of which he was convicted of just one. He also blew out the eye and part of the skull of his best friend, who was mentoring him and trying to keep him from irresponsible and criminal behavior.

Clearly, he was rarely in his right mind because his brain was so damaged by constant head trauma. His wild and unpredictable behavior accelerated to the point of the murders he committed, and he was often clueless about what he had done.

2) The NFL is a criminal organization and doesn't care. It is fabulously wealthy as it chews up players and spits them out until they either commit suicide or exhibit bizarre behavior that they realize is not normal and not what they grew up doing. This book is perhaps the most indicting document ever written about the NFL. It is unlikely, in my view, that this book will nudge the NFL into any kind of moral behavior, because it is wildly popular with fans, of which I used to be one until I discovered the trauma that players were going through. The NFL seems to consider itself beyond reproach and beyond having to take responsibility for the damage it's caused players. The public, in my view, is not at all aware of the machinations the NFL takes to remain above the law.

3) I hope this book starts a dialogue, if not criminal prosecution, ofthe NFL and makes fans aware
of how their dollars contribute to what has now come to be revealed as a monstrous sport, little different from what gladiators did in ancient Rome. It's going to take a massive information campaign for any of this to happen, and the economies of NFL cities, newspapers, TV, and the wild popularity of the sport will all fight it. Many people make their livings off the NFL, but the players make their deaths from it.
Profile Image for Ariel.
585 reviews24 followers
March 9, 2018
This is a straightforward telling of the tragic story of Aaron Hernandez. Aaron was an extremely gifted athlete who threw away his talent in favor of living the thug life. He had everything going for him and through bad luck, bad choices, and the possible destruction of his brain through repeated hits to his head his life went into a downward spiral of drugs and eventually murder. This book didn't do a great job of developing all of the characters like the best true crime books do. After finishing it I didn't feel like I really knew any any of the people involved. It told the story more like an episode of 20/20 or Dateline. It also showed how we put our sports heroes up on pedestals. Aaron Hernandez got away with so much for so long because he was good at throwing a football. A spotlight was especially thrown on the football culture at the University of Florida. On the surface this was a sad tale of someone who had everything and managed to throw it away. Look deeper however and you see yet another NFL player with brain trauma. Repeated concussions have been shown to alter brain function. Until this issue is properly addressed it may only be a matter of time until another Aaron Hernandez tragedy plays out.
Profile Image for Pam.
348 reviews
February 9, 2018
What a thug, and tremendous waste of real athletic ability. This story also reflects poorly on the business of football in general, collegiate and NFL. Avid fans may enjoy this but I'm not in that camp. My husband bought this book and it was sitting on the coffee table.
Profile Image for Moriah.
154 reviews18 followers
December 19, 2019
This was very interesting to read. I never knew who he was until the trial of Odin. The reason I’m rating it as a 4 is I wish that it had gone into more detail about the suicide, the letters, etc. i just felt like it ended too abruptly with not enough information
Profile Image for Deb Jones.
712 reviews80 followers
February 26, 2018
James Patterson brings his award-winning writing to true crime in this look at Aaron Hernandez, his life before the NFL and the crimes he was charged with and subsequently found guilty of some and not guilt of others.

Hernandez's ability to make great decisions on the football field did not always extend to his personal life as far as his choice of friends. His loyalty to those friends and their actions went a long way toward his own actions, including a proclivity to violence.

Written in Patterson's easy-to-digest style, "All-American Murder" was both an interesting and captivating reading experience.
Profile Image for Lisa Konet.
2,007 reviews10 followers
January 30, 2020
I wanted to read this because I dliske all things Patriots but this was actually a quite intriguing account of Aaron Hernandez. He has the smarts, good looks and charm. He actually grew up not too far from me in Bristol, Connecticut, while I was south on the shoreline of Connecticut. He had everything going for him in his life, but I couldn't leave behind his not-so-nice friends back in Connecticut or give up his party habits. He honestly just makes one bad decision after another and it just escalates. His life started to get back on track when he became a New England Patriot (Fartiot) and earned some Super Bowl rings, but again he couldn't let go of his ties in Connecticut.

Parts of this were absolutely tragic but if you follow all his bad mistakes leaving up to the one that landed him behind bars for the last time, you knew it was going to end well, even if you didn't know a thing about his fame. Again, a very tragic end to someone who could have turned it around.

Great writing by James Patterson in the nonfiction category. I hope James Patterson writes more nonfiction because this was written like one of his pulse-pounding thrillers. 5 stars for the author and writing and details (despite being about member of a team I hate with every fiber of my being).
Profile Image for Donna Lewis.
1,232 reviews14 followers
February 3, 2018
I read this book because I was curious about how a man with seemingly everything going for him could be convicted of murder and subsequently commit suicide. (You can tell this is a Patterson book because of the short chapters...and writing credit is shared with two other authors.). But as to Mr. Hernandez. He lost his father, he lost his focus, he was a very talented athlete, he believed in his invincibility, he abused many drugs, he hung with and was totally loyal to his gang/criminal friends, and he was damaged. The fact that professional football enabled him - excused his failings, gave him HUGE sums of money and fed into his massive ego - and helped to contribute to his downfall. Hernandez was not the only professional athlete to run afoul of the law. And CTE is not enough to explain his actions. The book is sad in that this could happen again to another talented player. I am not a proponent of football, but I understand that it is a highly popular sport in this country. I just am not sure how this problem should be addressed in the future.
Profile Image for Katherine "Kj" Joslin.
1,130 reviews47 followers
February 17, 2020
I have been following this story for quite some time and while a lot of this book was "from the headlines" facts that I was already aware of, there was a lot of information during the court proceedings that I was not aware of. Worth the read.
Profile Image for Melissa .
71 reviews
March 10, 2019
Not sure I would convict one person of first degree murder when 3 men were present, but an excellent book, unbiased and well written
October 18, 2018
Fall River, Massachusetts (CNN)Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez looked on impassively Wednesday as he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, a new low for a young man who once enjoyed a $40 million pro-football contract and now stands convicted in the 2013 murder of onetime friend Odin Lloyd.

Hernandez, 25, appeared to shake his head "no" earlier as jurors in the Massachusetts trial found him guilty of first-degree murder. He was also found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.
"They got it wrong," Hernandez said as he was being transported from the courthouse to a state prison, according to a law enforcement source close to the case. "I didn't do it."
At trial, the defense team described Lloyd, a former semi-pro football player, as Hernandez's "bluntmaster" -- his purveyor of marijuana -- and his future brother-in-law. But in victim impact statements, Lloyd's relatives portrayed him as a loving son and protective brother, as a man who rode his bike 10 miles to work and wore the same flip-flops for 12 years.
"Odin was my only son," his mother, Ursula Ward, told the court, without looking at Hernandez. "Odin was the man of the house. Odin was his sisters' keeper. After my daughter Olivia had her daughter, Odin became her keeper, too."

"I thank God every second for every day I spent with my son. The day I laid my son Odin to rest, I think my heart stopped beating for a moment. I felt like I wanted to go in that hole with my son Odin."
Lloyd was "the backbone of the family," Ward said. She expressed regret she'd never see him have a child and that she'd never dance at his wedding.
But she found forgiveness in her heart: "I forgive the hands of the people that had a hand in my son's murder, either before or after. And I pray and hope that someday, everyone up there will forgive them also."
Outside court, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn said of her ability to forgive: "I think it's a tremendous compliment to her."
"As difficult as it is for people in the end, forgiveness is what it's about, if people can bring themselves to that point, he said. What's next for Aaron Hernandez? Being a pro athlete 'meant nothing in the end' Aaron Hernandez listens as the guilty verdict is read Wednesday. Of the defendant, Quinn said: "Aaron Hernandez may have been a well-known New England Patriots football player. However, in the end, the jury found that he was just a man who committed a brutal murder.
"The fact that he was a professional athlete meant nothing in the end. He is a citizen who was held accountable by the jury for his depraved conduct."
Asked whether Hernandez "gets it" after his murder conviction, Quinn said: "I don't know. I think when you're taken away and they say, 'life in prison without parole' ... there's got to be some response. But I don't know if he got it."
Assistant District Attorney William McCauley told the court moments before that sentence was imposed that Hernandez "committed an extremely cruel and atrocious killing. ... It was brutal. It was senseless."
Judge Susan Garsh sentenced Hernandez "to a term of your natural life without the possibility of parole" for the first-degree murder conviction.
Garsh also sentenced him to between half a year and three years for unlawful possession of a firearm and one year, which he has already served, for unlawful possession of ammunition.
As the verdict was read, the former standout tight end appeared upset but calm. He pursed his lips and took a deep breath as his lawyer James Sultan put his arm around him.
He looked over to see his mother, Terri, and fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, weeping. "It's OK."
None of the jurors looked at Hernandez as the verdict was read. As each guilty verdict was read, Lloyd's mother, Ursula, rocked back and forth. After the verdict, Lloyd's relatives thanked and embraced members of the prosecution team.

Speaking to reporters later, some members of the jury of seven women and five men admitted to not knowing who Patriots owner Robert Kraft was when he took the stand.
Hernandez's downward spiral
But they agreed that his testimony was crucial. Kraft testified that Hernandez proclaimed his innocence to him and told the team owner that "he hoped that the time of the murder ... came out because I believe he said he was in a club."
"To this day -- we just went through a three-month trial, and this is now two years later -- we still don't know the exact time of Odin's murder," one of the jurors said. "So I don't know how Aaron would have had that information two years ago."
The jurors said they learned about other pending cases against Hernandez, including a pair of murder counts, after rendering their verdict. Asked how that made them feel, one juror said, "That we did the right thing."
They deliberated for more than 35 hours over parts of seven days. Hernandez was taken to a maximum security reception center for new inmates, Massachusetts Correctional Institution-Cedar Junction, which is less than four miles from Gillette Stadium, home of the Patriots. As he was being moved, Hernandez displayed the same kind of swagger with which he strolled into court each day, the law enforcement source said. Hernandez told officers escorting him, "'Hey man, I'm going to miss you guys. ... I don't need any luck any more.' He gave you the impression, 'It's kinda like no big deal. ... It is what it is.' "
5 things to know about the Hernandez jury
Trial started in depth of winter
His sensational trial started in late January, just days before the Patriots Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks amid an unusually long and harsh New England winter. Prosecutors took months to present more than 130 witnesses to build their case. The defense wrapped its witnesses in less than a day.
Prosecutors say Lloyd was seen June 17, 2013, around 2:30 a.m. with Hernandez and Hernandez's friends, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, in a rented silver Nissan Altima. Later that day, a jogger found his body riddled with gunshots.
The prosecution portrayed Hernandez as cold, calculating and insecure -- a man who believed others should be grateful for his attention, one capable of murder for merely disrespecting him in the presence of others.
McCauley asked jurors in closing arguments: What was Hernandez talking about a day after Lloyd's bullet-riddled body was found at a Massachusetts industrial park? " 'My endorsements are gone,' " Hernandez said, according to McCauley. "He's not talking about Odin."
Who is Odin Lloyd?
Wallace and Ortiz were longtime friends of Hernandez, who had complete control of them, the prosecution said. In closing arguments, McCauley reminded the jury of testimony about Hernandez and his two friends sunbathing poolside hours after the slaying, drinking smoothies, and Hernandez at times leaving his then 8-month-old child with the two men.
"These guys ... will do whatever he wants," the prosecutor said of Hernandez.
The motive for the killing has never been clearly spelled out, but prosecutors said Lloyd might have done or said something that didn't sit well with Hernandez. They said Hernandez rounded up some friends and orchestrated the killing to settle the score. McCauley said a perceived slight that might seem insignificant to someone, such as disrespect, would easily offend Hernandez.

Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez's fiancee, testified that Hernandez told her to dispose of a box from the couple's home that she said reeked of marijuana. She also said she didn't know what was in the box.
The prosecution has said the murder weapon, which has not been recovered, was in the box.
After concealing the box with her daughter's clothing, Jenkins said she threw it away in "a random dumpster" but could not remember where. Another piece of the state's case was grainy footage from Hernandez's home security system that prosecutors said showed him holding a .45-caliber handgun, the same kind of gun police said was used to kill Lloyd.
Inside the case against Aaron Hernandez
Wallace and Ortiz, who were also charged with murder, have pleaded not guilty and will be tried separately.
Sultan, Hernandez's attorney, told jurors that Hernandez "witnessed" Lloyd's killing, "committed by somebody he knew," and that the former NFL player "really didn't know what to do, so he put one foot in front of another" and moved on with his life.
Two other men who were drug dealers allegedly killed Lloyd, Sultan told the jury.
Lloyd, who was working for a landscaping firm at the time of his killing, played football for the Boston Bandits, the oldest semi-pro team in Boston and the winner of four championships in the New England Football League, the team's website says.
Outside court on Wednesday, Ward fought back tears as she remembered her son as "the most precious gift in my life."
"Just like God has left his footprint in the sand, my baby's footprint is in my heart forever," Ward said. "He was my strength. I love him dearly."
Lloyd's sister Olivia Thibou said she felt as if she lived in a dream world.
What prison life will be like for Aaron Hernandez
Profile Image for Angela Williamson.
245 reviews1 follower
February 5, 2018
This book did not let up once I started reading it. I had not kept up with this case as it was happening so a lot of this was new to me. The authors tried to present a balanced, unbiased story. Because I question so many things, I wonder how much of Hernandez's behavior was due to repeated tackles and hits to the head. Or was it the drugs and the people he ran around with? Would things have been different if his father had lived? Were there too many excuses made based on his football abilities and his fame? Unfortunately, these questions will never be answered. But, the book was a wonderful read and I enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Megan BG.
492 reviews13 followers
February 3, 2019
Appropriate that I listened to this the week before the Super Bowl (I'm a Patriots fan). This really makes you dislike football players and how much they get away with (the NCAA... the NFLPA...). Not necessarily murder... but there a lot of people who could have gotten him real help (not blaming anyone other than Aaron, but Florida and Urban Meyer - I am also an OSU fan - swept some things under the rug). What a waste... smart guy, just never sought the help he really needed.
57 reviews1 follower
January 10, 2019
Basic overview of the Aaron Hernandez story. No nuance or anything in-depth. Pretty much what I expected with a book comprised of over 90 chapters, many of which were only 2 pages long. But hey, a goal of mine for 2019 was to read a full-length book by James Patterson so I guess I can cross that off the list.
Profile Image for Savanah.
460 reviews55 followers
September 1, 2018
I very much enjoyed this book. I followed this case but didn't see much of the court proceedings. I'm a new england pats fan and enjoyed Aaron Hernendez very much but I can't believe he would throw his life away to murder people. He clearly didn't intend on being caught.

This book basically goes over everything you probably already know if you've read up and followed the case.

He was playing for a football team with Tebow. He lost his father and never really was the same again. He started hanging out with the wrong crowd. He was an amazing football player and was picked up by the NE patriots. He murdered two people and went to jail. He has a daughter and a fiancee. He gave up his life... for what?

Interesting book and if you follow true crimes, you'll like this one. Quick read, I couldn't put it down.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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