The Truth Behind a D.C. Mystery and Media Frenzy

Book review: Finding Chandra, by Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz Washington Post reporters and Pulitzer Prize winners Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz expand on their thirteen-part series about the truth of the Chandra Levy disappearance and murder investigations, revealing how police focused on Congressman Gary Condit, with whom the Bureau of Prisons intern was having an affair, at the expense of more viable suspects, one … Continue reading The Truth Behind a D.C. Mystery and Media Frenzy

Victims of South Central

Book review: The Grim Sleeper, by Christine Pelisek I noticed Christine Pelisek while watching episodes of true crime series People Magazine Investigates. Formerly a reporter for LA Weekly, she now covers crime for People magazine (and looks like a non-terrifying version of weird fashion goblin Rachel Zoe, which is why I always notice her on the show.) I remembered this case both from the news at the time of the murderer’s arrest, but more … Continue reading Victims of South Central

Black Widow of the Heartland

Book review: The Truth About Belle Gunness, by Lillian de la Torre On a spring day in 1908, police were called to the scene of a fire in a farmhouse in La Porte, Indiana. In the ruins of the house, they discovered four bodies: three children and a headless adult believed to be the farm’s proprietress, Belle Gunness. A former employee, Ray Lamphere, was charged with … Continue reading Black Widow of the Heartland

Love, Death and Feudalism in Old World Italy

Book review: Murder in Matera, by Helene Stapinski Author and journalist Helene Stapinski comes from a long family line of thieves and crooks, as detailed in her popular history of crime and theft in Jersey City (especially her family’s participation in it), Five Finger Discount. In her new memoir, Murder in Matera, Stapinski travels to the Basilicata region of southern Italy, attempting to track down and flesh out a … Continue reading Love, Death and Feudalism in Old World Italy

Fact and Memory, Punishment and Forgiveness

Book review: The Fact of a Body, by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich What is offered here is my interpretation of the facts, my rendering, my attempt to piece together this story. As such, this is a book about what happened, yes, but it is also about what we do with what happened. It is about a murder, it is about my family, it is about other families whose lives were … Continue reading Fact and Memory, Punishment and Forgiveness

Guilt, Grief, and Finally Getting the Truth

Book review: Alligator Candy, by David Kushner When he was four years old, journalist and writer David Kushner’s older brother Jon took off on his bike, riding through the woods of their neighborhood in Tampa, Florida en route to the 7-11, on a quest for candy. Before he left, David asked him to bring him the titular ‘alligator candy’, actually Snappy Gator Gum. Jon didn’t come home, … Continue reading Guilt, Grief, and Finally Getting the Truth

Murders in Indian Country and the FBI’s Beginnings

Book review: Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann It’s a deeply unfortunate, painful characteristic of American history that crimes against Native Americans are often lost to history. If you read a book like Dee Brown’s classic Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, you’re hit with wave after wave of frustration with each successive incident of their treatment at the hands and laws of white Americans. Killers of the … Continue reading Murders in Indian Country and the FBI’s Beginnings

An Australian in the Dark Heart of Mississippi

Book review: God’ll Cut You Down, by John Safran In this tornado of a book, Australian TV and radio personality John Safran chronicles his obsession with a Southern American murder case involving the death of a white supremacist at the hands of a young black man in Mississippi. That’s the basic premise, but the paths that the story takes from there are pretty extraordinary. Safran had a comedy … Continue reading An Australian in the Dark Heart of Mississippi

Poison in the Sun King’s Paris

Book review: City of Light, City of Poison, by Holly Tucker In the late 1600s during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, a network of witches, fortune tellers, apothecaries, priests, charlatans and magic and medicine people operated in the shadows of Paris. They provided desperate customers with the medicinal powders and potions they wanted to solve their problems, which were often romantic in nature, or … Continue reading Poison in the Sun King’s Paris

New Orleans’ Most Notorious Unsolved Mystery

Book review: The Axeman of New Orleans, by Miriam C. Davis New Orleans is a city that incomparably fascinates. It holds such a strong allure – consistently drawing masses of tourists, both at Mardi Gras time and outside of it, to see what makes this lakefront city so special. Even following devastating natural disasters like the hurricane that rocked the city to its foundations, New … Continue reading New Orleans’ Most Notorious Unsolved Mystery

Dark History in the City of Eternal Moonlight

Journalist Skip Hollingsworth asks near the beginning of The Midnight Assassin: “Why is it that certain sensational events in history are remembered and others, just as dramatic, are completely forgotten?”  Jack the Ripper committed his notorious murders in London’s East End a mere three years after Austin was terrorized by what we now would recognize as a serial killer. Even today Jack’s identity is still speculated … Continue reading Dark History in the City of Eternal Moonlight

Across Continents, On the Trail of a Con Man

Book review: Serpentine, by Thomas Thompson Serpentine is a long book but it doesn’t actually read like one. The writing is detailed and engrossing, pulling a reader in from the start. The story is about Charles Sobrahj, a French national of Vietnamese and Indian parentage born in Saigon. He had a troubled early start and things never much improved, as the book details his early life … Continue reading Across Continents, On the Trail of a Con Man