Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

STRONG LANGUAGE IN THIS REVIEW

SHarpObjectsFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 2006
Type: Fiction ~ Library Book
Pages: 272
Read: 7/18/2014
Rating: Was O.K.

After I read Gone Girl, which left me kind of cold, I don’t think I even wrote a review about it here, I said, “NO MORE GILLIAN FLYNN”. As you can see I didn’t stick to that. I got a sample, it intrigued me, and so I got the book. From the library, because if I had actually paid money for this drivel I would be fucking pissed. Some spoilers in review

The story is told from the viewpoint of Camille Preaker, who is a reporter and mentally ill, totally messed up by mommie dearest who never liked much less loved her. Camille is a cutter, except she doesn’t just cut, she carves words into herself. So fresh from this environment and just out of a mental hospital, Camille is sent back to her whack job of a mother by her boss. Of course at this point in the book, he doesn’t know how deranged Camille’s family is. And Camille is not ready to let the world know she has words written all over her body. She even convinced a guy to have sex with her clothes on.

Camille is just there to cover the story, but in the way these things happen in books, she ends up working to solve the crime, not just report on the family and the victims relations with their family and others. And she figures it out, except she’s wrong. I was wrong too.

In Gone Girl, the main female character is a MEAN GIRL, in this book, Camille is not a MEAN GIRL, but we get the idea that she was one in high school. Her mother and half-sister are devious and manipulative and spiteful and venomous. I raced through this book, mainly because I had to find out the ending, but I can’t say I enjoyed it.

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Murder Behind the Badge by Stacy Dittrich

True Stories of Cops Who Kill

MurderBehindtheBadgeFormat: Hardbound
Pub. Date: 2010
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime ~ Library Book
Pages: 320
Read: 7/15/2014
Rating: Liked it ♥♡

As a child I was always told if I was in trouble or lost to find a policeman. The police are there to help you I was told. In most cases that is true, but sometimes the emotional strain of dealing with the worst society has can wear down an officer until he or she slips into criminal behavior, some even going so far as to commit murder.

This book contains 18 stories of cops who killed. Not in the line of duty shootings, murders. The motives are varied. Some of the names were familiar to me and might be to you: Drew Peterson, Charles Oswalt, Lawrencia “Bambi” Bembenek, Richard DiGuglielmo, Craig Peyer and Gerard Schaefer. Some I know from my true crime reading, some from watching TruTV and one because it happened near to where I live.

Dittrich provides a foreword with her thoughts about 3 cases she is unsure of, this doesn’t affect her writing style or delivering the facts in an unbiased manner. She also stresses that the majority of law enforcement uphold the law, of course it only takes running into one bad one to ruin your day, just saying.

The accounts are short, no in-depth history of the participants lives, just enough to tell the crime and what happened after. I googled the names to see if there was any updated information available. Realizing some people may not want to see that, I have put any updates in a separate post that follows this one, and it is password protected. The password is in the tags.

So if you like your true crime short and sweet (so to say, not that murder is sweet) you will enjoy this book, the writing is concise, the stories are fascinating.

Dittrich profiles, among others:

• New Orleans cop Antoinette Frank, who brutally murdered three innocent people, including a fellow officer.
• Canton, Ohio police officer Bobby Cutts Jr., who murdered his former girlfriend when she was nine-months pregnant.
• California highway patrolman Craig Peyer, who pulled over San Diego State college student Cara Knott over a frivolous traffic violation, then murdered her.
• Columbia, Missouri officer Steven Rios, who slit the throat of his gay lover, after he threatened to tell everyone of their relationship.

Bitch on Wheels by Gregg Olsen

The true story of a murderous wife and her mountain man lover
This title was previously published in the US as Confessions of an American Black Widow.

BlackWidowFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 1998, 2013
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime
Pages: 287
Read: 7/5/2014
Rating: Really liked it ♥♡

This book was originally published in 1998 under the title “Confessions of an American Black Widow”, it was re-released in 2013 as an e-book with the title “Bitch on Wheels”. I have the 1998 version in paperback, the 2013 version as an ebook, mainly because I didn’t realize they were the same book. M. William Phelps wrote a foreword for the ebook version, a fact I find appropriate since I was reading his book at the same time I was reading this.

We come into the story at the death of Sharon Nelson’s third husband, we then go back in time to her first husband, who Sharon didn’t kill, apparently she decided it was better if her exes were dead. She had her lover kill husband number 2 and 3, while at the same time keeping his as her lover. He didn’t seem to want to marry Sharon, of course that would have meant leaving his wife.

BlackWidow2Gregg Olsen does his usual stellar job. His in dept recounting of the lives of the people involved makes one feel like they know them, yet his detailed reported doesn’t drag and is his style of writing is very readable. Gregg Olsen could re-write the phone book and I would read it. Well maybe not. My only complaint was the order the account was told was rather confusing, we kept going back and forth in time. Still a worthwhile read.

Death Trap by M. William Phelps

DeathTrapFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 2010
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime ~ Kobo Book
Pages: 464
Read: June 19, 2014
Rating: Really liked it ♥♡

On February 16, 2002 authorities responded to the report of a fire, they arrived to find a burned out car with two bodies in the trunk. It was Alan and Terra Bates, they had been murdered by Alan’s ex-wife, Jessica McCord and her husband, Jeff McCord, a police officer in Pelham, Alabama. Jessica wanted full and permanent custody of their children, without having to comply with the court ordered visitation allowed to Alan, she had already spent time in jail for disobeying the judge, and Jessica was used to getting what she wanted.

Incredibly detailed account of the lives of the involved parties, Phelps details the long custody battle, Jessica’s total disregard for the court and her manipulation of the children to paint herself as the good mom and Alan the evil abandoning father. Phelps brings the facts to life and we get to know the people through his research and in-depth interviews and correspondence with friends, family and even Jeff McCord. I recommend this book.

Sliver of Truth by Lisa Unger

SliverTruthFormat: Paperback
Pub. Date: 1/2007
Type: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller ~ Library Book
Pages: 427
Read: 6/9/2014
Rating: Liked it

This is the second book about Ridley Jones, it is a continuation of the Beautiful Lies and while I enjoyed it, I am pretty much done with Ridley Jones. All the way through this novel we get a rehash of the first novel, she repeats herself constantly. We learn her dislike for cell phones and why she is a terrible driver, both facts that were covered in the first novel and didn’t really need to be re-explored here. She also jumps forward in time and and then explains her actions and conversations in a memory tense.

There were some things that were downright implausible, she does some rather stupid things, apparently she didn’t learn anything from the first book, and despite saying she loved New York, she had some rather unfavorable and untrue things to say about it.

As in the first book, she is carrying on with her life and suddenly everything turns upside down. She ends up being chased by bad guys and good guys, can’t trust anyone and falls in love/lust with a new guy, the same way she fell in love/lust with the last guy and that relationship went south. At the end of the book, she doesn’t know who to trust but ends up free and with the guy and although the ending leaves room for another book (please God no), if there is I won’t be reading it, I can’t see this series coming up with anything new.

Fred & Rose by Howard Sounes

The full story of Fred and Rose West and the Gloucester House of Horrors

Fred&RoseFormat: Trade Paperback
Pub. Date: 12/1995
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime
Pages: 351
Read: 6/7/2014
Rating: Really liked it ♥♡♥

Three things stand out to me in this book, (1) the utter depravity of Fred and Rose West; (2) the horrible failure of the Gloucestershire Social Services; and (3) the amazing tenacity of one Detective Constable Hazel Norma Savage, without her involvement, the bodies might never have been found.

Fred and Rose were married for about 25 years, but the killing had started before, both had killed on their own, and then together, they knew each others secrets and covered up for each other. In the end, Fred tried to protect Rose, who when she felt he had failed her turned from him. He took his life and there are now questions that will never be answered. Such as, why were finger and toe bones missing, are there more victims and if so where are they buried? Rose maintains her innocence. These are things we may never find out.

Howard Sounes is a journalist, he covered the story when it broke and the trial of Rosemary West, much of the information in this book is from that. There is also extensive background information and he includes speculation on what caused Fred and Rose to become such twisted individuals. He delivers accounts of what probably happened to the victims, based on the condition of the bodies and accounts from other victims that survived. One of the victims that lived is Fred and Rose’s daughters. Two of the victims that were killed were also their daughters.

The facts are laid out explicitly but not sensationally making this an informative, well written, interesting account. I recommend this book.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

112363Format: eBook
Pub. Date: 11/2011
Type: Fiction ~ Library Book
Pages: 849
Read: 5/11/2014
Rating: Liked it ♥♡

If you had the chance to change the course of history, would you? Would the consequences be what you hoped?

The sentence above is this novel in a nutshell, the rest is just filler, to make it an engaging story, to drag us in and make us stay till the end to see what does happen: does Jake prevents the assassination of JFK? And if he does, what will happen to the present? Along the way he saves a couple of other people. And some other people die, Jake makes some vital errors and learns there are consequences to changing history. I’m not saying anymore. SPOILERS

This is only the third Stephen King novel I’ve read. I’m not really into supernatural horror. I read CUJO, which scared the living daylights out of me and changed my view of St. Bernards forever; I recently read The Shining, which didn’t scare me much; and this book.

On the surface this is a time travel book, but underneath it is much more, the book is like an onion, you have to keep the peeling the layers to find out what’s at the center of it, and sometimes you don’t want to peel because you know it will make you cry, but you can’t stop. There are some paranormal elements to this book, after all Jack is traveling back in time through a passageway in a storage room. But it’s not scare paranormal, the horror scary moments come from real people. The story moves slow at times, then races forward with incredible speed. A bit like life. And through everything I was hooked, I wanted to know how everything ended.

Death in Yellowstone by Lee H. Whittlesey

Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park
Yellowstone
Format: Trade Paperback
Pub. Date: 2014
Type: Non-Fiction ~ LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Pages: 284
Read: 5/16/2014
Rating: Really liked it ♥♡

Wilderness is impersonal. It does not care whether you live or die. It does not care how much you love it.

So while we are loving the Yellowstone wilderness, while we play in it, indeed revel in it, taking it on its own terms and helping to protect it, we foolish mortals must always remember to respect it. For not only can it bite us, but, indeed, it can devour us.

While reading this my first thought was he could have just subtitled it, “People are stupid”. Indeed, most of the deaths in this book are the direct result of people being “foolhardy”. There are a few genuine accidents and some deaths by others actions, negligent acts and even homicides. Lee Whittlesey covers them all. What is not included in this book are deaths from auto, motorcycle, or snowmobile wrecks or deaths from heart attacks or illness.

The book is divided into two sections: Death by Nature which covers hot springs, wild animals, poisonous plants and gas, lightning, falling rocks and trees (although these could also be in next section), avalanche, freezing, cave-in, falls, smoke, earthquakes, and drowning. Part II is Death by Man which covers Indian battles, fights, horse and wagon and stagecoach incidents, accidental and deliberate shootings, murder, suicide, missing and presumed dead, gas stove explosions, structural fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, death on road (bus accidents) and airplane crashes (military and private planes).

While this could have been a dry recitation of names and manor of death, Lee Whittlesey has provided a narrative with the deaths, how it happened and how he came by the information. He also gives a little bit of the history of his life and also why he wrote the book. This is actually the second edition, the first being published in 1995, and has more deaths. Some are older ones, the information sent to him by people who know about them. Some are deaths that occurred between 1995 and the publishing of this book.

While this is not an exciting, page turning book, I found it to be very interesting and informative. It made me glad that my parents were of the mindset that when in Yellowstone National Park, you obeyed the rules the Rangers stated because, “The rules are there for a reason!”, and we left Yellowstone the same way we came in, with our limbs and lives intact. I did try to get a bear to eat my sister, but as is brought out in this book, they are wild animals and uncooperative.

The book ends with Whittlesey reinforcing the safety rules we should all follow because wilderness is after all wild and can devour us. A word of caution from me, while not gory, some of the descriptions of injuries in this book are graphic, for instance, he describes what happens to the human body when immersed in boiling hot water.

Five Days in November by Clint Hill

5daysnovemberFormat: Hardbound
Pub. Date: 2013
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime ~ Library Book
Pages: 243
Read: 4/29/2014
Rating: Liked it ♥♡

On November 22 , 1963, three shots were fired in Dallas, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the world stopped for four days. For an entire generation, it was the end of an age of innocence.

That evening, a photo ran on the front pages of newspapers across the world, showing a Secret Service agent jumping on the back of the presidential limousine in a desperate attempt to protect the President and Mrs. Kennedy. That agent was Clint Hill.

Clint Hill was one of the agents assigned to protect Jackie Kennedy in this book he takes us through the events leading up to the assassination of President Kennedy and the immediate aftermath. This is a very detailed account, as a Secret Service agent he had to take detailed notes of times and events. The book also has more than 150 photos. The photos aren’t captioned but the narrative on the pages relates to the photos.

Besides detailing the events we can see the emotional impact the events had on the agents and the Kennedy’s loved ones and close friends. We can feel Mr. Hill’s grief over the loss of President Kennedy, his sorrow at seeing the pain First Lady Kennedy was feeling, having spent everyday with her he knew her better than most people, and his deep guilt at failing to protect the president.

He touches briefly on the conspiracy theories and explains his viewpoint and his feelings on learning Oswald was shot and killed.

Fascinating book that I recommend to anyone wanting to get a personal insider view of JFK and Jackie.