Midyear Recap (…A Little Late)

I wasn’t planning to do a midyear best-of list, and July is already half gone, so…well past the halfway mark. But realizing how many truly excellent nonfiction titles have come out already this year, I thought a year-end recap would be way too long if I didn’t collect some standouts from the year’s beginning! And I promise these are worth every minute of your precious … Continue reading Midyear Recap (…A Little Late)

Fact and Memory, Punishment and Forgiveness

Book review: The Fact of a Body, by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich Book Depository What is offered here is my interpretation of the facts, my rendering, my attempt to piece together this story. As such, this is a book about what happened, yes, but it is also about what we do with what happened. It is about a murder, it is about my family, it is about other families whose … Continue reading Fact and Memory, Punishment and Forgiveness

Guilt, Grief, and Finally Getting the Truth

Book review: Alligator Candy, by David Kushner When he was four years old, journalist and writer David Kushner’s older brother Jon took off on his bike, riding through the woods of their neighborhood in Tampa, Florida en route to the 7-11, on a quest for candy. Before he left, David asked him to bring him the titular ‘alligator candy’, actually Snappy Gator Gum. Jon didn’t come home, … Continue reading Guilt, Grief, and Finally Getting the Truth

Murders in Indian Country and the FBI’s Beginnings

Book review: Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann (Amazon / Book Depository) It’s a deeply unfortunate, painful characteristic of American history that crimes against Native Americans are often lost to history. If you read a book like Dee Brown’s classic Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, you’re hit with wave after wave of frustration with each successive incident of their treatment at the hands and laws of … Continue reading Murders in Indian Country and the FBI’s Beginnings

An Australian in the Dark Heart of Mississippi

Book review: God’ll Cut You Down, by John Safran In this tornado of a book, Australian TV and radio personality John Safran chronicles his obsession with a Southern American murder case involving the death of a white supremacist at the hands of a young black man in Mississippi. That’s the basic premise, but the paths that the story takes from there are pretty extraordinary. Safran had a comedy … Continue reading An Australian in the Dark Heart of Mississippi

Poison in the Sun King’s Paris

Book review: City of Light, City of Poison, by Holly Tucker (Amazon / Book Depository) In the late 1600s during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, a network of witches, fortune tellers, apothecaries, priests, charlatans and magic and medicine people operated in the shadows of Paris. They provided desperate customers with the medicinal powders and potions they wanted to solve their problems, which were often … Continue reading Poison in the Sun King’s Paris

Down and Out in Rhode Island

Book review: Down City, by Leah Carroll Leah Carroll’s mother died when Leah was four years old, strangled in a motel room by two drug dealers with mafia connections to Rhode Island’s Patriarca crime family and a misguided paranoia. She’s then raised by her father and stepmother, with the ghost of her mother a constant haunting presence. Down City chronicles her childhood and adolescence with a … Continue reading Down and Out in Rhode Island

New Orleans’ Most Notorious Unsolved Mystery

Book review: The Axeman of New Orleans, by Miriam C. Davis Book Depository New Orleans is a city that incomparably fascinates. It holds such a strong allure – consistently drawing masses of tourists, both at Mardi Gras time and outside of it, to see what makes this lakefront city so special. Even following devastating natural disasters like the hurricane that rocked the city to its … Continue reading New Orleans’ Most Notorious Unsolved Mystery

Dark History in the City of Eternal Moonlight

Book review: The Midnight Assassin, by Skip Hollingsworth (Amazon / Book Depository) Journalist Skip Hollingsworth asks near the beginning of The Midnight Assassin: “Why is it that certain sensational events in history are remembered and others, just as dramatic, are completely forgotten?”  Jack the Ripper committed his notorious murders in London’s East End a mere three years after Austin was terrorized by what we now would … Continue reading Dark History in the City of Eternal Moonlight

How it Feels When a Cold Case Warms Up

Book review: Jane Doe January, by Emily Winslow Some years ago, I made the decision to stop reading a book if I wasn’t enjoying it. Life is short and my reading list is never-ending. 40-odd pages into Jane Doe January, I put it aside with no desire to continue, and I’m not sure why I eventually did. I think because I’d looked forward to it for so long, I couldn’t accept … Continue reading How it Feels When a Cold Case Warms Up

How a World Meets Its End

Book review: At the End of the World, by Lawrence Millman (Amazon / Book Depository) In the winter of 1941, when most of the world was concerned with the Second World War raging in Europe, a different drama was unfolding on the remote Belcher Islands of Canada’s Hudson Bay. In a religious frenzy, three Inuit became convinced that two of them were the reincarnations of … Continue reading How a World Meets Its End

Is there Sense in the Senseless?

Book review: The Spider and the Fly, by Claudia Rowe (Amazon / Book Depository) A serial killer, Kendall Francois, was caught after a spontaneous confession to police. They’d let him escape closer scrutiny repeatedly despite plenty of complaints from potential victims. He’s imprisoned and a journalist going through a difficult, soul-searching time in her own life begins corresponding with him in an attempt to understand more about … Continue reading Is there Sense in the Senseless?