Review: American Sherlock – Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI by Kate Winkler Dawson

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★★

G.P. Putnam’s Sons | 2020

Opening Case: How much did Fatty Arbuckle actually weigh?

Main CSI: Gil Grissom maintains “old man crush” status.

Plot Truthi-ness: Beefs and peas in a dessert trifle.


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.

Season 6 Friends GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
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True Crime Tuesday: The Cannibal Wife

I got you with that title, didn’t I? It’s like, “Honey! I’m home in the stew!”

Now that I have you’re attention, Ohhh shiiiittttt, do I have a story for you. We are going to learn about Katherine Knight, the first women in Australia’s history to be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Be prepared, because this bitch is a special kind of terrible.

I first heard about this case while I was watching make-up tutorial videos. Seems weird? I’ll explain. I haven’t really worn makeup since March when I started working from home, because what’s the fucking point? “Do it for yourself!” Aw, sweet…but no. Do you have any idea how much money I’ve spent on makeup? I’m not wasting that beautiful shit on the same pair of PJs I’ve been wearing for two days while I sit in front of the TV eating pretzel thins by the handful.

Part of me is definitely deprived of the joys of makeup though, so I’ve been filling that Color Pop palette sized hole in my heart by watching Bailey Sarian. Now, I admit I figured I was too old to really card about YouTube personalities, but apparently I just needed to find the right one. Now that I’ve discovered Bailey and her Mystery Makeup Monday series my life will never be the same. It’s makeup and a true crime story. I want to be her when I grow up. I love her.

What do I not love? Killing your husband and trying to eat him.

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This case is fucked up – from the beginning of Katherine Knight’s life until she’s incarcerated. Hell, even beyond that. This woman says she is regularly visited in prison by the ghost of her dead uncle. Okay.

So here’s my content warning: if you’re triggered by things like domestic violence, child abuse or FUCKING SKINNING A HUMAN BODY, peace the fuck out.

The rest of you, gather ’round because it’s story time…

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Review: Faceless (DI Rosalind Kray, #1) by Rob Ashman

“Being psycho doesn’t make you bad, being bad makes you bad. Being a psycho and bad makes you dangerous.”

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★★★★

Bloodhound Books | 2018

Opening Hook: Face/Off without Nic Cage.

Main Character: At least she’s not on pills.

Plot Twisty-ness: Not your average YouTube makeup tutorial.


If you’re the kind of person who just can’t resist a UK crime procedural with a damaged main character and a twisted killer who masturbates a lot (like a lot,) then this is the book for you, you fucking weirdo.

Lucky for me, I’m a weirdo too, so I was totally into this first instalment in the Rosalind Kray series.

Rosalind is everything you want to be – drunk and eating junk food.

Good times.

She’s also a single mother since her husband was murdered. Rosalind carries around survivor’s guilt by the butt-load, uses alcohol just to sleep, uses casual sex with her partner to numb the pain and investigates murder as a distraction.

So, you know, everything you don’t want to be.

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Review: White Out (Badlands Thriller, #1) by Danielle Girard

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★★★

Thomas & Mercer | 2020

Opening Hook: Get winter tires.

Main Character: I don’t remember.

Plot Twisty-ness: Small-town amnesia.


If you’re sick to death of this extreme heat, which I always am even before it starts, then this snowy thriller is the perfect read to cool off this summer. How’s that for a goddamn tagline, huh? I should do this shit professionally. Someone pay me. Oh, and today is the official pub day!

Alright, so I was offered this book by the author, Danielle Girard, in exchange for a review. These authors know what they’re getting into when they ask me to review their books, so I’m always honest even when it’s negative, and I don’t feel bad about it.

Fortunately for all of us, I don’t really have too much to say that’s negative about this first instalment in the Badlands series… except like two things… three things… four things… Okay, whatever, we’ll count them up at the end.

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Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus

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★★★

Delacorte Press | 2019

Opening Hook: Jamie Lee this Prom Queen ain’t.

Main Character: A Murderino Nancy Drew.

Plot Twisty-ness: Boiled chicken without seasoning.


Ughhhhhh…

Here we are again. Welcome to yet another edition of “Krystin tries to read YA!”

Aside from Undead Girl Gang, which I totally fucking loved, I feel like I’ve been trying for 84 years like that lady from Titanic to get into YA mystery/thrillers and it’s just one disappointment after the next.

That’s not to say that the books aren’t good. Okay? Calm your energy. I’m not here to shit on your genre of choice. In almost every case, it’s has been an “it’s me, not you” situation. I am just not the right audience for this genre.

I wish I was! I would love to relax with a YA thriller because the R-rated shit can get to be a bit too much. Being constantly inundated with the most heinous plotlines can warp a person who also watches too much news. This planet is a dumpster fire. Yes, I see a therapist regularly, thank you.

I feel like a YA thriller would really help me unwind. Alas, of the 55 books on my “young-adult” Goodreads shelf, I have like 3 of them.

THREE.

Overall, these books make me feel very much like…

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Review: Anything For You (Valerie Hart, #3) by Saul Black

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★★★

St. Martin’s Press | 2019

Opening Hook: Body parts in the desert.

Main Character: Clearly written by a man.

Plot Twisty-ness: What it lacks in thrills, it tries to make up using oral sex.


First things first, if you’ve never read Saul Black before (aka Glen Duncan) do not get to know him by reading this book. I would suggest reading the very first Valerie Hart novel, The Killing Lessons, and if the style works for you, then you’ve got a new thriller series to read!

I say this because Saul Black is a graphic and gritty author with dark plot points and character arcs that flow from book to book. It’s important to understand the whole character and how he writes the plot around that character, to know whether or not his writing works for you. But it works as a standalone as well, if you’re okay with missing some character building.

There’s also a lot of descriptive sex and violence. So…..

Those of us with more delicate sensibilities would call Black crude or vulgar, and it will knock you off balance if that’s not the kind of writing you are expecting or like. The rest of us will be into his writing style because it’s honest and visceral, and we like gross shit.

season 1 woman GIF by American Gods
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Review: Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah

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★★★★

William Morrow | 2020

Opening Hook: Alien children???

Main Character: I would have divorced her.

Plot Twisty-ness: Off the rails but still moving.


Okay, listen, this book is weird AF. You’re either going to fall down the rabbit hole and have a great time with how nuts it gets, or you’re going to DNF that shit because you can’t take how unrealistic it is. It just depends on the kind of reader you tend to be or the state of mind you’re in when you read it.

For me, I am usually looking for something that’s so nuts and have never read before (fuck cliches!), and that’s exactly what I got, so I don’t mind too much that it was also off it’s goddamn rocker when it came to the plot.

This is my first novel by Sophie Hannah, but if this is any indication of the kind of crazy shit she can come up with, it won’t be my last.

You Crazy GIF by memecandy
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Review: First Cut (Jessie Teska, #1) by Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell

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★★★★

Hanover Square Press | 2020

Opening Hook: This autopsy table is dirty.

Main Character: A forensic queen in the making.

Plot Twisty-ness: Don’t bring Bitcoin into this.


If you read my review for Working Stiff by Judy Melinek, then you may recall that I am 100% a Melinek fangirl. This woman is amazeballs. I love everything about her.

Where before she recounted her real-life experiences as a medical examiner in NYC (during 9/11 no less,) in her non-fiction work, First Cut is a work of fiction that focuses on a new medical examiner in San Francisco, Jessie Teska.

Considering that this is a debut work of fiction, it’s top-notch.

If you love procedurals that rely on the science and forensic side of investigation than this is going to be a must-read. It might feel a little bogged down in medical details to the casual reader, however.

Melinek uses all of her real-life experience as a medical examiner to bring Teska’s job to life. Honestly, it’s so authentic I could probably dissect a dead body at this point. And I definitely wouldn’t forget what jar and drawer tissue specimens were meant to go in.

Considering we’re in a current moment in time where we’re talking about defunding police, I’m pretty convinced after reading Melinek’s work that medical examiners could probably solve murders a hell of a lot better than most cops.

Just saying.

Continue reading “Review: First Cut (Jessie Teska, #1) by Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell”

Booknerd Wednesday: Twenty Black Mystery/Thriller Authors We Should Be Reading!

Alright, Nerds, this is going to be your one stop shop for all the books that will help you better diversify the mystery/thriller section of your bookshelves! I’m not going to lie, I fucking need this too! By no means is this comprehensive, but it’s a fucking good start.

I think we’ve all become aware over the last few weeks that black authors get lower advances, lower marketing and less readership because of it. And I’ve seen the push in the book community to really make a change.

When I was putting together a book stack for Pride Month I realized I have a very white, very straight physical bookshelf. (I’ll get to queer authors in next weeks post.)

The truth is, I was never the kind of reader who gave a second-thought to who was writing the book. If the cover caught my eye and the synopsis sounded like it was up my alley, I’d buy it, borrow it or download it.

While I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with being that kind of reader, it’s also important to realize how book publishing works and why, nine times out of ten, you’re likely to pick up books by white authors.

The only way to create a more equitable bookshelf in this moment in time is to actively seek out that author diversity.

And let’s be honest, if you’re mostly into mystery, thriller and horror genres, book store shelves are not exactly overflowing with anything except white people…and James Patterson (*shakes fist at my arch nemesis*)

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True Crime Tuesday: Let’s Talk Statistics #BLM

If you’ve arrived at today’s post expecting to read about some grisly psychotic true crime murder, I’m sorry to disappoint you dear reader, but there are more pressing matters happening in the world right now that deserve a little #tct attention.

Hopefully you’ll stick around and learn a little bit about the data behind an uprising happening that will likely go down in the history books as the moment that changed the way policing is done in North America, particularly in the U.S.

And honestly, let’s be real, police killing black people over suspected forged money or loose cigarettes is pretty fucking psychotic.

Policing African American GIF by INTO ACTION
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