It’s robust, in-depth and densely investigated from every angle, with the authors conducting over 200 interviews and reviewing thousands of pages of court documents to deftly present to readers all the ins and outs of a corrupt system.
I’m wholly impressed with this nonfiction account of Mississippi’s completely fucking horrific justice system and two men in particular who should be punched in the throat every time they step outside.
Like, top to bottom, what the actual fuck are we doing as a society that anything in this book was allowed to happen?
I took some time after reading this before writing my review because I needed to collect my thoughts and emotions – namely rage. Now that I’m sitting here writing this, I’m realizing I’ve actually not gathered myself at all and I’m back to confusion, rage and endless judgement.
Broadly, this book looks at bad forensics, institutionalized racism in the justice system and shitty white men finding loopholes galore because of laws written by other shitty white men and other other shitty white men willing to cover asses to “get the job done,” so that in the end, all the shitty white men are richer and more powerful at the expense of truth, justice and people’s freedom.
It’s fucking disgusting, honestly. But not surprising either.
“What Keyes was describing was the textbook progression, from childhood, of a sadist and a psychopath. Torturing and killing small animals, pets especially, is experimentation in controlling and killing another living thing for pure pleasure. It is practice, the last step before graduating to humans.”
Viking | 2019
Filed Under: Gen X Serial Killer
Like so many who have read this true-crime book, I am shocked and confused as to how I’d never heard of Israel Keyes before. He does ask the police to keep his serial killing ways on the D.L. so that his family (particularly his daughter) never finds out what he did as a hobby, but like, dude – they were going to find out one way or another. You don’t kill three people (possibly eleven) and keep that a secret after you’ve been arrested.
It’s also kind of a strange concern to have considering he’s a psychopath. Like does he really care about his daughter’s emotional and mental well-being? I highly fucking doubt it. Most of these guys want to be famous. And it’s a real shame that even after death, we keep making Ted Bundy movies.
This book was a surprise in all the right ways for all the wrong reasons. Those reasons being serial murder and committing general criminal chaos. There is nothing better than being shocked and appalled while learning about a true-crime case for the first time. Well, there are lots of things better than that, but you know what I mean. If that makes me sound weird, so be it. I don’t know how else to explain it.
All of the –
– and –
– and –
– that comes with reading some fucked up shit for the first time can’t be duplicated. Kind of like a first kill that serial killers keep trying to replicate. See what I did there? Comparing myself to a serial killer? Shit. Alright, this going off the rails. Let’s just start over.
This is the weirdest “true crime” novel I’ve ever read.
First, because it’s mostly a memoir about someone who was not involved in any crime at all. And second, because the crime is an attempted crime. Spoiler alert, I guess? While I’m sure it was traumatizing for the women involved, in the context of a true-crime novel, nothing happened that could fill up an entire book. And what’s weirder, the author uses the attempted crime against someone else to question-plague herself for twenty+ years about why no one ever tried to kidnap and rape her.
Filed Under: How much did Fatty Arbuckle actually weigh?
You might think that you’re getting a novel about “murder, forensics and the birth of American CSI,” when you pick up this novel. That’s exactly what I thought. And also exactly what they put in the fucking title. But why should titles ever tell you what you’re really going to be reading about, I guess?
What you’re actually getting here is a choppy, mishmash of relatively boring cases and life stories about Oscar Heinrich, the “American Sherlock.” If I had known this was going to be about one man’s life, and not a historical rundown of the evolution of forensic sciences centred around different murder cases, I probably wouldn’t have read it.
But since I did, it’s necessary to note that I have no issue with a true-life story about a remarkable human who deserves to be applauded. It’s the execution of the telling of that life where it falls apart on this one.
I think this book is best described as the trifle Rachel makes on Friends. It was almost good, but something got fudged up so no one really wanted to eat it.
“Psychiatry at its best is what all medicine needs more of—humanity, art, listening, and empathy—but at its worst it is driven by fear, judgment, and hubris.”
Grand Central Publishing | 2019
Filed Under: Up to your eyeballs in FACTS.
Before you go into reading this book, you must first understand the true premise. It is NOT a history of psychiatry and psychiatric hospitals, though those things are discussed to fully understand what Dr. David Rosenhan was doing. But this book is almost totally about Dr. David Rosenhan and his study from the 1970s that looked to expose how psychiatry was functioning away from public knowledge.
I admit I was kind of disappointed once Nellie Bly was discussed for only a couple of paragraphs because that is shit I showed up for. I was expecting a novel that discussed people like Bly more in-depth. I was expecting something a bit more sinister and historical. Like, give me some Geraldo Rivera at Willowbrook kind of drama.
But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
Once I got passed my assumptions, I did get into this nonfiction work, but not as much as I was hoping I would. It’s a pretty dense read, full of medical jargon, medical history (seriously, you go through the creation of all the DSM volumes) and a complete dissection and recounting of Dr. Rosenhan’s study, On Being Sane in Insane Places.
Hands down, if you are a true crime nerd you want to read this book. It is a heavy fucking tome of information on the dark and depraved. It is written by the Godfather of criminal profiling and it focuses on cases that you’ve likely never heard of before unless you happen to be local to where the crimes happened.
We are not talking about circling the drain on Bundy and Manson. This is likely going to be brand new information that will have you cringing with every uncomfortable nerve exposed, while teaching you how the minds of the four twisted subjects worked, how Douglas dissected them during one-on-one interviews and how the killer’s traits represent the broader strokes of understanding criminal minds.
Be forewarned however, if you have issues with crimes against children, a significant portion of this book really explores that, unflinchingly.
I heard about the Turpins when they first made international breaking news back in 2018 (which honestly feels like 100 years ago, at this point,) but I obviously didn’t pay enough attention to the whole story because the level of insanity is just jaw-dropping once all the details are laid out, as John Glatt does for you in this true-crime novel.
I mean, this is some fucked up shit.
I must have brushed it off as just another set of weird religious parents doing weird shit to their kids in the name of their self-tailored beliefs – that is one way to chalk it up. But, when we get into the real details, this is a banana-sandwich story turned up to eleven. Spinal Tap, amen.
If you’re looking for a story on how Louise and David Turpin went from falling in love to popping out 13 kids who they would regularly beat and chain up to their beds, only freeing them to brush their teeth or use the bathroom, then this is the book for you.
Filed Under: Apparently, evil is just a misunderstanding
I really wanted to like this and I’m having a hard time with the rating because I didn’t like this, and frankly parts of it are so off-putting I want to toss it out a window.
But it’s not a bad book either in terms of writing quality.
My biggest problem really comes down to the fact that this book is not about the science behind humanity’s dark side, as the cover suggests.
I wanted to learn about the brain, human chemistry, nature vs nurture; I wanted case studies and scientific journals and theories and experiments. What I got was the author explaining why evil is subjective and nothing is really bad because all humans fuck up. The overall theme boils down to “rethinking evil.”
While that may be a provocative topic to tackle, I wouldn’t have necessarily started the book with the argument that we should reconsider labelling Hitler as evil.
I’m pretty fascinated by the Long Island Serial killer case. It’s been some time since we had an evil, undetectable serial killer case to watch in real-time. Though it’s faded from the news and been replaced by, well, mostly Trump for fuck’s sake, this is certainly a story to keep a spotlight on. There are dozens of women whose lives have been cut short with zero progress towards justice of any kind.
The more cynical side of me might say that because they were escorts and sex workers that their cases are deemed “less important” to solve compared to other things cops are coming across every day involving people with more “societal value.” That’s the more cynical side.
I’ve seen a couple documentaries on this decades-old unsolved mystery, watched a few interviews and have a general idea of who is suspicious AF (I’m looking at you Dr. Hackett, you shady motherfucker,) so, I wanted to read this novel by an award-winning investigative reporter because I thought I would be getting a really in-depth overview of the case as it stood in 2013, and some theories about what the actual fuck is going on.