Life Lessons Learned in the Service of Death

Book review: The Education of a Coroner, by John Bateson “When it comes to county government, the coroner’s office often is the forgotten stepchild. People don’t want to think about it, and they definitely don’t want to know any details of how it operates.” Longtime Marin County, California coroner Ken Holmes tells tales from his line of work and a long, experienced career, and disproves … Continue reading Life Lessons Learned in the Service of Death

Injustice and the Transgender Tipping Point

Book review: A Murder Over a Girl, by Ken Corbett Psychologist and professor Ken Corbett exhaustively covered the trial of Brandon McInerney, who at age fourteen, executed a classmate, Larry King (not THAT one.) Supposedly because King, who was gay and beginning to express himself in ways that indicate he was probably transgender, was sexually harassing him. The case in Oxnard, California made national headlines when Larry … Continue reading Injustice and the Transgender Tipping Point

A Memoir of Murder and the Male Gaze

Book review: The Hot One, by Carolyn Murnick New York magazine editor Carolyn Murnick was childhood best friends with Ashley Ellerin, growing up in suburban New Jersey. Attending different high schools, then Ashley’s relocation to her home state of California, the friendship began developing the natural divide that accompanies growing up and apart. But unlike many similar friendships, the two maintain some level of connection, and … Continue reading A Memoir of Murder and the Male Gaze

The Yogurt Shop Murders and a Look at False Confessions

Book review: Who Killed These Girls?, by Beverly Lowry What do we actually know and how do we know it? Neuroscience teaches us that our brains are never still, even when we’re asleep and have plunged into dreams. Neurons still continue to spark and fly, jumping synapses, digging up memories, creating new ones, adding, subtracting, removing, revising. Until the story feels right. Correct. What we want … Continue reading The Yogurt Shop Murders and a Look at False Confessions

One Month In Maryland Homicide

Book review: A Good Month for Murder, by Del Quentin Wilber Reporter Del Quentin Wilber spent an extended chunk of time shadowing the homicide division of Maryland’s Prince George’s County Police Department. He wasn’t exactly sure what he intended to write about the embedded experience, but he was interested in how detective work had changed in the two decades since the publication of David Simon’s Homicide, a … Continue reading One Month In Maryland Homicide

Virginia Burning

Book review: American Fire, by Monica Hesse In the American countryside, during five months from 2012 to 2013, a terrified county nearly went up in flames. The place was Accomack County, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, within the East Coast’s picturesque Delmarva (Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) region. “The Eastern Shore of Virginia is a hangnail, a hinky peninsula separated from the rest of the state by the Chesapeake Bay … Continue reading Virginia Burning

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