Four Women and their Crime “Obsessions”

Book review: Savage Appetites, by Rachel Monroe (Amazon / Book Depository) For the past few years, as the US murder rate has approached historic lows, stories about murder have become culturally ascendant...whether our tastes tended toward high-end HBO documentaries interrogating the justice system or something more like Investigation Discovery's Swamp Murders. (Or, as was often... Continue Reading →

Nonfiction Classic on Making Fear Work For You

Book review: The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker (Amazon / Book Depository) Do not listen to the TV news checklist of what to do, or the magazine article's checklist of what to do, or the story about what your friend did. Listen to the wisdom that comes from having heard it all by... Continue Reading →

Lawrence Wright’s Look at the Satanic Panic

Book review: Remembering Satan, by Lawrence Wright (Amazon / Book Depository) Journalist Lawrence Wright is one of my favorite nonsense-busters. It just doesn't get past him. And his books are so well-written that even when they're dealing with the eye-rolling (but also very sad) "Satanic Panic" of the late 80s/90s, they're meticulous and brilliantly laid... Continue Reading →

A Memoir of Violence and Complicated Memory

Book review: The Other Side, by Lacy M. Johnson (Amazon / Book Depository) The short version: Lacy Johnson was kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend and held prisoner in a soundproofed basement he'd constructed solely for the purpose of raping and brutally killing her. He didn't succeed in killing her. This book is about that event, how it... Continue Reading →

Another Side of a Much-Discussed Story

Book review: Avery, by Ken Kratz Grim and plain - that was the nature of these truths. They may not be as exciting as conspiracy theories, but they do have the virtue of being supported by facts. Former Wisconsin special prosecutor Ken Kratz is kind of a sleazebag and he knows it. In 2010, his professional and... Continue Reading →

Victims of South Central

Book review: The Grim Sleeper, by Christine Pelisek I noticed Christine Pelisek while watching episodes of true crime series People Magazine Investigates. Formerly a reporter for LA Weekly, she now covers crime for People magazine (and looks like a non-terrifying version of weird fashion goblin Rachel Zoe, which is why I always notice her on the show.) I remembered this case both from the... Continue Reading →

Black Widow of the Heartland

Book review: The Truth About Belle Gunness, by Lillian de la Torre On a spring day in 1908, police were called to the scene of a fire in a farmhouse in La Porte, Indiana. In the ruins of the house, they discovered four bodies: three children and a headless adult believed to be the farm's proprietress,... Continue Reading →

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