A Wrongful Conviction and an Innocence Commission

Book review: Ghost of the Innocent Man, by Benjamin Rachlin (Amazon / Book Depository) Wrongful conviction narratives are incomparably terrifying. They leave the reader with a lingering unease, that if this could happen to the person profiled, on flimsy or nonexistent evidence in a complex yet error-filled justice system, it could happen to anyone. It’s happening to others who don’t have books written about them … Continue reading A Wrongful Conviction and an Innocence Commission

The Latest On Lizzie: Extensive Account of The Infamous Maybe-Murderer

Book review: The Trial of Lizzie Borden, by Cara Robertson (Amazon / Book Depository) Lizzie Borden’s is a story that’s persistently intrigued us for over a century. This latest nonfiction treatment, coming on the heels of multiple recent novels, a TV movie and series, a work of YA nonfiction, and a feature film shows that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Why does this case … Continue reading The Latest On Lizzie: Extensive Account of The Infamous Maybe-Murderer

An Unusual Investigation Reveals Sweden’s “Dark Heart”

Book review: The Dark Heart, by Joakim Palmkvist (Amazon / Book Depository) At summer’s end in 2012, an older, miserly farmer went missing from his farm in the Swedish countryside. The surrounding region is dubbed the “dark heart of Smaland,” in reference to its traditional conservatism and religious background. Palmkvist points out that it’s an apt expression for this story, at the heart of which … Continue reading An Unusual Investigation Reveals Sweden’s “Dark Heart”

An Espionage Mystery in the Caucasus

Book review: The Spy Who Was Left Behind, by Michael Pullara (Amazon / Book Depository) Lawyer Michael Pullara was bothered by the official narrative of the 1993 murder of Freddie Woodruff, a CIA agent and diplomat working as station chief in Tbilisi, Georgia at the time of his death. Pullara spent ten years investigating and researching the incident and its myriad oddities; The Spy Who Was … Continue reading An Espionage Mystery in the Caucasus

Living Through Scientology’s “Fair Game” Policy

Book review: The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, by Tony Ortega Amazon Journalist Paulette Cooper survived the Holocaust but she almost didn’t survive Scientology. That thought lingered while reading this biography and account of her years of harassment by the cultlike religion for daring to write honestly and critically about them. Her parents suffered persecution as Jews in Second World War Europe and Paulette was lucky enough … Continue reading Living Through Scientology’s “Fair Game” Policy

Eloquent Arguments Against Mass Incarceration, Capital and Excessive Punishment, and Mercy Above All

Book review: Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson (Amazon / Book Depository) Proximity has taught me some basic and humbling truths, including this vital lesson: Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. I avoided reading Just Mercy, to some extent, because I knew it was going to be a painful book to read. And now I’ve avoided writing about it because … Continue reading Eloquent Arguments Against Mass Incarceration, Capital and Excessive Punishment, and Mercy Above All

Historical Scandal, Murder and Medicine at Harvard

Book review: Blood & Ivy, by Paul Collins Amazon 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 … 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 Book Depository 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 … Continue reading Arguing Against “Incomprehensible” When a Mother is Responsible

A 1937 Crime and Trial Setting Historical Precedence

Book review: Little Shoes, by Pamela Everett (Amazon / Book Depository) 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 … Continue reading A 1937 Crime and Trial Setting Historical Precedence

Janet Malcolm Observes a Murder Trial

Book review: Iphigenia in Forest Hills, by Janet Malcolm (Amazon / Book Depository) Iphigenia in Forest Hills is a well reported account of a 2009 murder trial by renowned journalist Janet Malcolm. The victim at the center was dentist Daniel Malakov, who in 2007 was shot on a playground allegedly on the orders of his wife, Mazoltov Borukhova, a respected doctor in Forest Hills, Queens. Malakov’s death … Continue reading Janet Malcolm Observes a Murder Trial

Southern Corruption and the Flawed System Allowing Injustice

Book review: The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist, by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington (Amazon / Book Depository) Despite the relatively low pay of the state positions in forensic pathology, a doctor willing to bend the profession’s guidelines to help supply meet demand could make good money. There are quite a few places across the country where that’s exactly what happened – where doctors have … Continue reading Southern Corruption and the Flawed System Allowing Injustice

Reasonable Doubt Abounds: Reexamining a Conviction

Book review: Convenient Suspect, by Tammy Mal (Amazon / Book Depository) Rereading the synopsis before starting this book, it dawned on me that I’d heard of the case, although I hadn’t initially recognized it when I got the book. And I’d never realized it was as complicated as it is. I saw it covered on HBO’s Autopsy, an excellent docuseries (most of which is on YouTube) that … Continue reading Reasonable Doubt Abounds: Reexamining a Conviction