Across Continents, On the Trail of a Con Man

Book review: Serpentine, by Thomas Thompson Serpentine is a long book but it doesn’t actually read like one. The writing is detailed and engrossing, pulling a reader in from the start. The story is about Charles Sobrahj, a French national of Vietnamese and Indian parentage born in Saigon. He had a troubled early start and things never much improved, as the book details his early life … Continue reading Across Continents, On the Trail of a Con Man

“Moose antlers on the roof (already confirmed).”

Book review: Butcher, Baker: A True Account of a Serial Murder, by Walter Gilmour and Leland E. Hale (Amazon / Book Depository) Butcher, Baker is the true story from the law enforcement side of the investigation and capture of 1970s/80s Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen. Originally published in 1991, a new ebook edition is being rereleased on October 25th. A film version came out in 2013, The … Continue reading “Moose antlers on the roof (already confirmed).”

A Serial Killer and the Sickness of the Soviet Union

Bridge across the River Don in Rostov-on-Don, Russia; one of many cities that were the scenes of the grisly crimes of Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, also known as the Rostov Ripper or the Red Ripper. Photo credit: Zhanett.b, Wikimedia Commons. Book review: The Red Ripper: Inside the Mind of Russia’s Most Brutal Serial Killer, by Peter Conradi (Amazon / Book Depository) A few years ago I … Continue reading A Serial Killer and the Sickness of the Soviet Union

Lessons from Borough Park and the Payne Whitney

Photo: New York Hospital, Payne Whitney Clinic. From the Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington D.C. Credit: Wikimedia Commons Book review: One of These Things First: A Memoir, by Steven Gaines (Amazon ($1.99 ebook alert!) / Book Depository) It sounds strange, but I’ve read a couple of Holocaust memoirs lately and I needed to read something light and funny, stat. … Continue reading Lessons from Borough Park and the Payne Whitney

Why Spy?

Book review: The Falcon and the Snowman by Robert Lindsey (Amazon (1.99 ebook alert there!) / Book Depository) Two childhood friends, former altar boys, develop their own espionage “scam”, as they call it, and become unlikely spies, selling government documents to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It would make an entertaining basis for a spy novel, except that it actually happened. An upcoming ebook edition of … Continue reading Why Spy?

From Sheepshead to the Mediterranean

Book review: In the Company of Dolphins by Irwin Shaw (Amazon)  Originally published in 1964, this is author (among other talents) Irwin Shaw’s sweetly inspiring memoir of chartering a yacht and sailing the Mediterranean with his wife and son and an amusingly difficult captain. As a boy in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, he watched the ships and dreamed of sailing one of his own, and after spending … Continue reading From Sheepshead to the Mediterranean

Best Notes for the Grand Tour

Book review: Leading the Blind, by Alan Sillitoe (Amazon / Book Depository) Leading the Blind is Alan Sillitoe’s witty compilation of some of the most interesting, bizarre, quirky or hilariously biased and outdated bits from 19th century guide books to continental Europe, with a select few parts of the Middle East thrown in for good measure. These guide books were tailored to wealthy British travelers doing trendy Grand Tours … Continue reading Best Notes for the Grand Tour

When the Upper West Side Was Seedy

Book review: Closing Time, by Lacey Fosburgh (Amazon / Book Depository) Page turner about the 1973 murder of a schoolteacher on New York City’s Upper West Side by a troubled drifter. I haven’t read the book or seen the film Looking for Mr. Goodbar, which immortalized the case, and didn’t know much about the case itself. One detail had always stuck with me from whatever … Continue reading When the Upper West Side Was Seedy

Stream of Consciousness from Auschwitz

Book review: Fragments of Isabella by Isabella Leitner (Amazon / Book Depository) A very short but incredibly powerful memoir of a young woman’s nightmarish memories of Auschwitz, structured in short vignettes and often in a stream-of-consciousness style. It’s emotional and affecting to read not only her descriptions of the experiences, but to grasp the palpable anger so present in her words. Even from her secure postwar … Continue reading Stream of Consciousness from Auschwitz

The Classic Account of the Boston Strangler

  Book review: The Boston Strangler, by Gerold Frank (Amazon / Book Depository) (P.S. – $1.99 ebook alert for that one on Amazon) I know I have to take a break from true crime sooner or later, but this kept getting recommended as a good example of the genre, and then I noticed a newly released ebook version from Open Road Integrated Media on Netgalley. … Continue reading The Classic Account of the Boston Strangler