Mini-Review Dump💩: Between Good and Evil, Crime Beat, Chasing the Devil & Death in the City of Light | #NonFictionNovember

Hey, it’s definitely not November anymore but that’s when I read all of these!

So in terms of blogging, not great. But in terms of reading, very good. I’m calling it 50/50. Technically a C-, but also an A for effort.

Spoiler! I didn’t really like any of them…

True Crime Laugh GIF by Dateline NBC

Reviews in this post:

  • Between Good and Evil: A Master Profilers Hunt for Society’s Most Violent Predators by Roger L. Depue
  • Crime Beat: A Decade of Covering Cops and Killers by Michael Connelly
  • Chasing the Devil: My Twenty-Year Quest to Capture the Green River Killer by David Reichert
  • Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris by David King

🔪Between Good and Evil: A Master Profilers Hunt for Society’s Most Violent Predators

ROGER L. DEPUE

Between Good and Evil by Roger L. Depue | Grand Central Publishing

★★

Grand Central Publishing | 2005

Filed Under: “We would have nun-free zones with a sign that says: ‘No Nuns. No Nuns. None.'”

I thought I was going to be reading about the creation of profiling and the cases that helped shape it, as told by the man who oversaw that creation. But, what I got instead is Roger Depue’s religion-heavy memoir and life story which can be boiled down to him marching through town crashing symbols and screaming, “I AM SO GREAT and Jesus saved me!”

That’s not really my vibe.

You are told about Depue’s childhood, personal life and career which he clearly thinks very highly of himself for, with only a smattering of profiling information throughout. When you get to the last third of the book where Depue’s wife dies – though I was incredibly moved by his love for her – the book completely leaves true crime behind. Literally. Depue, in his grief, left the FBI to join a seminary. He was so destroyed, the man was like, I am going to go as far away from having to date again as I possibly can. Depue eventually goes back to law enforcement when he starts finding crimes to be investigated within the seminary and the nuns are like, “Dude, chill. We’re all god’s children, even the criminals.” That’s not a direct quote, but I can’t wait for millennial nuns who call people dude and queen.

But honestly, Depue has so much toxic masculinity swirling around him that you can literally see how he should have just gone to therapy for his grief, but that wasn’t what men do, so he ran away to a seminary instead. From here, this book was totally off whatever topic I assumed it was going to be on until the end.

If what you’re really interested in are the details of Depue’s life, this will work for you. But if you’re more interested in the true-crime aspect and details on profiling, then I’d stick with any of John Douglas’ books. He always gets the assignment.

The vibe for this one:

Do You Like To Talk About Yourself GIF

🔪Crime Beat: A Decade of Covering Cops and Killers

MICHAEL CONNELLY

Crime Beat by Michael Connelly

★½

Little, Brown & Company | 2004

Filed Under: An article about Harry Bosch reading an article

Maybe (?) this would be interesting to hardcore Michael Connelly fans, but for me, it was just a collection of newspaper articles from the 1980s, reprinted exactly as they appeared. And damn, some editing would have been nice. This would have been a lot more fun if I was an amateur sleuth looking at microfiche at the library for clues, but I wasn’t. I was in eating crackers & cheese in bed in my pyjamas with a dog staring at me, so like, old newspaper pieces weren’t really cutting it.

Connelly had a long career as a journalist and spent a lot of that career writing about crime, which led him to become the prolific fiction author he is. And that’s the dream, baby! (That and being the amateur sleuth with the microfiche.) There were bits and pieces in this that were interesting, but that interest would rapidly be destroyed by the super repetitive quality of the collection. As it goes with newspaper reporting, lots of facts are repeated from one day to the next. In reading those articles back-to-back, things got super redundant and tedious. Like, we could splurge on a little editing? Maybe personal asides from Connelly, some analyzing or newer research instead of re-reading the same information from the day before over and over again?

If you’re familiar with Connelly’s fiction, you’ll pick up on where he pulled inspiration for his plots, but as source material goes, the articles don’t really have the strength to hold up a whole book alone. As you would expect from news reporting, there’s a lack of flare and personality to the writing voice. That constant, straight-laced “just the facts and quotes” format made this feel like a longer read than it actually was. There’s no attempt to flesh any of this out or, in some cases, provide closure. There are multiple articles, out of the twenty-two presented, that end abruptly with no additional or up-to-date information.

Random, heartless true crime that felt more like schoolwork and research than a good book.

Honestly, I’m really not even sure fans of Connelly will like this.

The vibe for this one:

this is fine seth meyers GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers

🔪Chasing the Devil: My Twenty-Year Quest to Capture the Green River Killer

DAVID REICHERT

Chasing the Devil: My Twenty-Year Quest to Capture the Green River Killer:  Reichert, David: 9781250092991: Books - Amazon.ca

★★

Little, Brown & Company | 2004

Filed Under: My twenty-year quest to make myself feel better

This is exactly what the title says it’s going to be, peppered with the author’s terrible personality.

Reichert, the original detective on the case, is utterly annoying. He’s a dinosaur in terms of social progress. Like, he literally and unironically describes himself as an alpha male. He also takes credit for anything his black female partner, Lieutenant Fae Brooks, did. Claiming things like he trained her (but she was his superior?), her ideas were his, etc. These are all things, from my understanding, that Brooks has expressed the opposite of. He also says he did things – like take DNA swabs – that other documentation of the case definitely say he didn’t do.

I get serious “I don’t take orders from women” vibes from the whole thing. Which, true, was probably the tone at the time, but why is he still like that, decades later? Maybe 2004 wasn’t really that progressive. But also, why does he feel the need to lie about shit? This isn’t about you, dude! The tone was way off. The light should have been cast on Ridgeway and the victims, not the detective’s ego.

I wanted an in-depth account of the Green River case and in some ways, you do get that here. The descriptions of the police work were very interesting and incredibly detailed, and the recounting of all Ridgeway’s interviews was captivating and raw. Nothing like hearing a serial killer talk about fishing a condom out of a corpse while I’m writing work emails.

But I just couldn’t get past the author’s grating personality. He seemed to take zero accountability for anything, making it seem that if there is fault to be had, it’s on everyone else but him. He claims credit for everything that worked and throws everyone else under the bus for the things that didn’t. Oh, and there’s a lot of Jesus talk and a lot of crying over how sad the victims made him, yet he barely talks about the victims in a substantial way at all. There is nothing in here to personify them or put a spotlight on them, which was a big, self-involved miss by the author.

This whole thing is more like ego word vomit than a serious look at Ridgeway and his crimes, and it’s hard to trust that everything within is accurate when other sources conflict with his claims.

The vibe for this one:

Homer Simpson Cartoon GIF

🔪Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris

DAVID KING

Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris: King,  David: 9780307452900: Books - Amazon.ca

★★½

Crown | 2011

Filed Under: Dry like aged red wine

I wanted to love this. It combines two of my favourite topics to learn about – serial killers and World War II. So, colour me surprised to find out this was dry AF. The writing voice was very monotone and emotionless, and the first half of the book was a mess in terms of the timeline. On audio, I had a difficult time following along as the aspects of the history and case were presented all over the place, without any sense of direction.

I wish there had been an explanation about how the French court system works because that’s outside of my frame of reference. I don’t know if the author just didn’t think that information was important or if he forgot that the typical reader outside of Europe would likely have no idea what the fuck was going on when a victim’s family member can question a defendant or literally everyone in the courtroom argues with each other the whole time. There might be law, but there ain’t no order. Even just a short rundown of that justice system would have helped the second half of the book, which basically only takes place within the construct of a French trial, make more sense.

The whole thing feels like it meanders a lot. There’s no main POV to track, no main theme tying everything together. It’s very much an information dump that ultimately doesn’t really have a lot of answers. Was Dr. Petiot a Nazi spy? Was he in the French resistance? Who knows! And there are multiple asides about people like Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus for no real reason at all.

This book is more historical nonfiction as opposed to true crime, and I’m usually not the audience for that because my brain just doesn’t engage unless I’m interested and the information is presented interestingly. Like, I took a whole semester of history in college and the only thing I remember is the Isle of Lesbos because I thought it was funny. So…

Really, what were the chances that this author could take two things like a serial killer and Nazi Germany and make it boring for me? Super disappointed.

The vibe for this one:

Pete Davidson Snl GIF by Saturday Night Live

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