Posts Tagged 'true crime'

2017: A Year in Books

I’m alive!

Since 2015, I have gotten engaged and married, changed jobs, and moved to a new apartment in a new neighborhood. So yeah, I’ve been slightly busy! 🙂

I’ve also been READING. Not quite so much, with all the aforementioned marrying/moving/job-changing, but it’s my favorite, most sustained hobby and I’d never give it up!

To ease back into blogging, I thought I would take a look at my 2017 in books, assembled via Goodreads.

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Not bad! I exceeded my goal of reading 50 books this year, and read a wide range with a good breakdown of fiction versus nonfiction. I also read a good handful of books that had been on my to-read list for years.

Continue beyond the jump to see my top reads of 2017!

Continue reading ‘2017: A Year in Books’

Book Review: Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, by David Simon

Omar knows what’s up. 

I only started watching HBO’s The Wire about a year ago, but damn if it isn’t as good as everyone says it is. I don’t really know why I waited to watch as long as I did, but I’m almost glad–I feel like I can appreciate its messages and subtitles better now that I’m a bit older and have more life experience. It also means that I can draw out my watching of The Wire to avoid having it end too soon.

Before I had even starting watching, I knew that it (and the show Homicide) was based in part on a nonfiction book by David Simon called Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. What I wasn’t prepared for was for how engaging and eye-opening the book was on its own.

Continue reading ‘Book Review: Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, by David Simon’

Capsule Book Reviews: June and July 2012

I have read a lot in the past few weeks. Chalk that up to 1) having completed graduate school and 2) being unemployed. For perhaps the first time, I’m actually ahead of schedule in terms of finishing 50 books this year!

However, I wasn’t really feeling up to writing longer reviews for various reasons. Instead, I’m going to try out some capsule reviews. I figure it’s better to only write one or two sentences about a book I’ve read than struggle to write a full review and end up with nothing at all! (The titles are linked to the books’ GoodReads pages, in case you’d like to read others’ thoughts!)

Room, by Emma Donoghue: It feels sort of weird to say I enjoyed a book about a woman kidnapped and held in a room for seven years, during which time she has a child who grows up thinking the room is a world unto itself, but I did. The voice of Jack, the child, ranges from sweetly innocent to precocious to angry, but the narrative device never feels stale. Despite what I felt were a few missteps in the latter half of the book, this was a well-done novel and it’s definitely earned all of its critical praise. Four out of five stars.

The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt: I can appreciate a good send-up of a genre, but for some reason, this didn’t work for me. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. There were some flashes of brilliance, such as the brothers’ encounter with a mysterious old woman, but I suppose I wanted a more concrete/less meandering storyline. Three out of five stars.

The Murder of the Century, by Paul Collins: I was actually much more interested in the yellow journalism side of this story as compared to the murder-mystery aspect. Learning about Pulitzer and Hearst and the general newspaper arena in the early 1900s was really engaging, and really informative. If you’re a fan of Newsies, you’ll probably like this. A solid three out of five stars.

Continue reading ‘Capsule Book Reviews: June and July 2012’

Review: Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer–America’s Deadliest Serial Murderer

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it around these parts, but I have a slight obsession with reading about serial killers. A pastime of mine, especially when I’m sick and confined to bed, is to alternate watching Law & Order: SVU on Netflix and choosing random articles from Wikipedia’s list of American serial killers.

Fellow serial killer book reader Lazy first drew my attention to Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer, by Ann Rule. Being that I hadn’t heard of the Green River Killer (or GRK) before, but also wasn’t sure I wanted to have a book about a serial killer prominently displayed on my bookshelf, I requested it from my university library. (I’m now probably on a government watchlist somewhere.)

So, the GRK (Gary Ridgway) was active in the 1980s in the Seattle and Tacoma areas of Washington. He murdered over 70 women, possibly as many as 90, and targeted women working as prostitutes. He was caught and arrested in 2001, thanks to the use of DNA evidence. The actual story is much more drawn out—Rule writes about the ongoing, frustrating police investigation, as well as the lives of some of the women killed and Ridgway’s child- and adulthood.

Rule herself is a well-known true crime writer, who has published tons of books and short stories. She’s probably best known for “The Stranger Beside Me,” as she was co-workers and friends with Ted Bundy, another prolific serial killer.

I think, in this book, I would have liked for her to downplay her involvement. (However, this could be my bias against memoirs speaking.) Though it would have made sense to detail her interactions with Bundy, her involvement in the GRK case was limited and fairly ineffectual—so additions like Ridgeway having attended one of her book signings seemed to be grasping and didn’t enhance my understanding of the case or Ridgway.

In contrast, I wanted more about GRK himself. I’m not sure if they just couldn’t get enough reliable information out of him to construct viable diagnoses, but I didn’t feel that the police came any closer to understand Ridgway. The transcripts of police interrogations of Ridgway were helpful in giving us a glimpse inside the mind of a serial killer, but never went so far as to provide answers to the “how” and “why” questions. I also didn’t think that the period of latency after his third marriage was explained well enough. As Rule herself states, serial killers don’t just “stop.” Their behavior usually escalates the longer they remain free. So how and why did Ridgeway go from murdering multiple women—sometimes in the same week—to potentially murdering no one for years?

While Rule’s writing isn’t what I would call extremely masterful, the twists and turns of the story was enough to keep me reading. The fact that Ridgway is portrayed as being unintelligent but manages to elude the police for so long was interesting in and of itself. I did appreciate that Rule dedicated space to the victims of GRK, and told many of their stories in the book. Almost all of GRK’s victims were women—girls, really—who had been abused, abandoned, forced to the fringes of society, and forgotten. Learning more about them as they had been, and reading the words of their families, felt like a fitting tribute.

Bookwanderer Rating: Three out of five stars

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