An Unflinching Look at An FBI Career in Crimes Against Kids

In the Name of the Children, by Jeffrey Rinek Jeffrey Rinek, retired FBI agent and owner of a majestic mustache, writes a memoir detailing cases he worked during his career, particularly in the area of child sex crimes and the infamous Yosemite murders, where three tourists (Carole and Juli Sund and Silvina Pelosso) were abducted and murdered, leaving behind a particularly bizarre trail of evidence. He … Continue reading An Unflinching Look at An FBI Career in Crimes Against Kids

Historical Scandal, Murder and Medicine at Harvard

Book review: Blood & Ivy, by Paul Collins On November 23, 1849, shortly before Thanksgiving, Dr. George Parkman entered Harvard’s Medical College to visit a tenant of his, the college’s chemistry professor, John White Webster. He was never seen again. A familiar figure in and around Boston, Dr. Parkman’s disappearance grabbed plenty of news headlines, both the expected and the fanciful, and generated waves of … Continue reading Historical Scandal, Murder and Medicine at Harvard

Arguing Against “Incomprehensible” When a Mother is Responsible

Book review: To the Bridge, by Nancy Rommelmann Journalist and author Nancy Rommelmann found herself captivated by a disturbing news story. Young mother Amanda Stott-Smith had, in the early morning hours of May 23, 2009, driven to the Sellwood Bridge in Portland, Oregon and dropped her two young children into the Willamette River below. The elder of the two, seven-year-old Trinity, survived. Four-year-old Eldon didn’t … Continue reading Arguing Against “Incomprehensible” When a Mother is Responsible

Favorites of the Year So Far

2018 has seen so much great nonfiction and we’re only halfway there. It’s been quite the year for big nonfiction news stories too, kicking off in January with Fire and Fury frenzy, then the memoir debut of a daughter of Mormon survivalists taking the literary world by storm, James Comey’s much-anticipated tell-all, and a triumphant moment for criminal justice with a serial rapist and killer apprehended more than four decades … Continue reading Favorites of the Year So Far

Double Life in Detroit

Book review: Masquerade, by Lowell Cauffiel Masquerade is one of those cliched un-put-downable books, pretty perfect if you want somewhat trashy-themed but still literary nonfiction. It’s the detailed account of Dr. Alan Canty, a respected psychologist from Grosse Pointe, an affluent and exclusive Detroit suburb, and his involvement in a seedier side of life via a bizarre obsessive relationship with a heroin-addicted sex worker, Dawn, … Continue reading Double Life in Detroit

A 1937 Crime and Trial Setting Historical Precedence

Book review: Little Shoes, by Pamela Everett I noticed this book was coming out after reading Piu Eatwell’s take on Elizabeth Short’s infamous murder, Black Dahlia, Red Rose. In that book, Eatwell repeatedly references the profiling work of Dr. Paul De River, a psychiatrist who, before psychologically profiling and interviewing Dahlia suspect Leslie Dillon, had used similar techniques to help secure a conviction in the case of … Continue reading A 1937 Crime and Trial Setting Historical Precedence

New York City’s 16-Year Manhunt and Criminal Profiling’s Beginnings

Book review: Incendiary, by Michael Cannell In 1956 there was no such thing as criminal profiling; nobody could recall an instance when the police had consulted a psychiatrist. It was a collaboration fabricated in detective novels, but never found in real life. Every one of today’s profilers, real or televised, traces his or her lineage back to the psychiatrist who depicted the serial bomber with … Continue reading New York City’s 16-Year Manhunt and Criminal Profiling’s Beginnings

Unsolved Mysteries of the I-45

Book review: Deliver Us, by Kathryn Casey It’s only natural to want to believe we are in control, that when we wake each morning, we decide what we do, that our lives don’t rest in the hands of others or, even worse, of that unseen yet eternal influence commonly referred to as destiny. Kathryn Casey generally writes the kind of true crime I avoid. When … Continue reading Unsolved Mysteries of the I-45

A Story of a Crime, Sort Of

Book review: Love and Death in the Sunshine State, by Cutter Wood While staying in a motel on the island of Anna Maria in Florida, graduate writing student Cutter Wood witnesses the search for a missing woman, who happens to be one of the motel’s owners, as it begins to ramp up and intensify. Fascinated by the mystery, as I think many would be, he … Continue reading A Story of a Crime, Sort Of

A Case Study of Justice and Racial Politics in Florida

Book review: Beneath a Ruthless Sun, by Gilbert King Gilbert King, 2013 Pulitzer winner for Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, returns to the setting of that book: mid-20th century Florida and the intersection of justice and race relations, to tell a new story from the era in this extensive work of history. The book, which also … Continue reading A Case Study of Justice and Racial Politics in Florida

Obsession on the Upper East Side

Book review: You All Grow Up and Leave Me, by Piper Weiss In this Gossip Girl meets true crime hybrid memoir, the story of Gary Wilensky, private tennis coach to wealthy Manhattan teenagers who made a thankfully unsuccessful abduction attempt of one his students, is recounted alongside the author’s growing pains. She had been his student too. In spring of 1993, Wilensky tried to execute a thoroughly … Continue reading Obsession on the Upper East Side

Vanished in a Strange Land: Iceland’s Infamous Crime Alongside Cultural History

Book review: Out of Thin Air, by Anthony Adeane This is a nation of reading and storytelling, with a rich literary history of world renown, where it is a long-standing tradition to give books to each other as gifts on Christmas Eve, where the legends of the Sagas are writ large in public spaces, and where one in ten people see their words in print…In … Continue reading Vanished in a Strange Land: Iceland’s Infamous Crime Alongside Cultural History