I’ve always been fascinated by true crime. Lately I’ve been so enmeshed in modern crimes that it was interesting to step back in time and read about a grisly Victorian era murder that sparked the craze of the “detective” and the amateur sleuth—something that continues today and is far more embraced than it was in the 1860’s. The author takes a deep dive into this well to-do family that wakes up one morning to find that someone within the household has murdered a three-year-old little boy. Perhaps the deep-dive was a bit too deep into tangential topics at times, but I really enjoyed seeing how the murder of little Saville sparked a fascination that is still raging today.
I like T.J. English’s work when it comes to mafia/gangster histories, he’s become a go-to for me when my true crime itch has me turning to organized crime. He always does a thorough job with research and has a great ability to take information that spans decades and tie it together through the people and groups to craft a surprisingly linear “story”, if you will. But this is hardly the “untold” history of the Irish American Gangster. It is, however, a very dense complete history of the organization that took me over a month to finally finish reading.
“Small-time” is the story of the smaller operations of the mob. Not the big New York families we’ve all seen the documentaries for, but the smaller organizations in the little towns. Mostly centered on gambling operations as well. Sure, these arms of the mob would report back to the bigger organizations, but they ran things primarily on their own. It sounds really intriguing, right? To get that closer look at a side of the mob rarely talked about, and from an almost first-hand perspective from someone who lived it! What could be better? Except that this family memoir delivered more on the family drama, than the involvement with the mob.
“Lady Killers” is a much-needed spotlight on female serial killers. It’s often believed that there are either 1. No women serial killers or 2. The ones that do exist aren’t nearly as scary or worth remembering as their male counterparts. While this book takes a look at fourteen different women serial killers—the methods they used, and a little bit about why in the context of the place and era they lived—this book is also part feminist study as to the language used around reporting and discussing women murderers. It, oddly, gave the book a sarcastic tone which I didn’t mind, but is a little… weird for a book with this kind of subject matter.
It's hard reviewing and rating nonfiction books, especially True Crime. I feel like I say this with every True Crime book I read, but I have yet to be proven wrong about it, so here we are. I’m not rating the crimes themselves, the severity or even how the cases played out in court. I’m simply rating how the author chose to relay the information to the reader. Ann Rule is in a unique position as a True Crime author, as she used to be a police officer, so her books always bring an interesting level of detail to them that’s garnered through first hand experience. Perhaps her most famous book is “The Stranger Beside Me” where she herself was blind to the fact that her friend was Ted Bundy—yes, that Ted. But the “I-5 Killer” is just as tense and intriguing, even when Rule does not have the same personal connection that she did with Bundy. And while the book started off strong—full of tension and horror, it did get bogged down with a type of dry repetition before long.
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