truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Sidneyia inexpectans)
Smoke, Mirrors, and Murder and Other True Cases (Crime Files, #12)Smoke, Mirrors, and Murder and Other True Cases by Ann Rule

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


If this collection doesn't cure you of that abhorrent coinage The [Male Noun]'s [Female Noun], nothing will.
click! )
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Sidneyia inexpectans)
Empty Promises and Other True Cases (Crime Files, #7)Empty Promises and Other True Cases by Ann Rule

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


  • "Empty Promises": Bellevue WA 1990: murder of Jami Hagel Sherer by her abusive stalker husband Steve
  • "Bitter Lake": murder of woman and her toddler son by her stalker ex-boyfriend
  • "Young Love": teenage boy threatens ex-girlfriend with bomb, but blows himself up
  • "Love and Insurance": gay man murdered by his roommate (lover? close friend?) for a $500,000 insurance policy
  • "The Gentler Sex": woman and her girlfriend murder her husband for the insurance money; another woman attempts to hire a hit man to murder her husband before he can divorce her (Murder Is Cheaper Than Divorce--she didn't care that he was divorcing her; she didn't want to have to divide her assets).
  • "The Conjugal Visit": the terrible history of Carl Cletus Bowles
  • "Killers on the Road": the equally terrible history of Thomas Braun and Leonard Maine, who in 1967 murdered three people and nearly murdered a fourth--all complete strangers--simply because they could
  • "A Dangerous Mind": A man strangled his seven-year-old niece; investigators discovered a long history of his getting away with, or getting only very lightly punished for, sexually-motivated violence against children; his family (including the little girl's parents) continued to defend him. He committed suicide after his sentencing hearing.
  • "To Kill and Kill Again": Gary Gene Grant murdered two teenage girls and two six-year-old boys (the girls were separate crimes, the boys were together) for no motivation that even he could understand.
  • "The Stockholm Syndrome": Subject of a 1983 made-for-TV movie called The Awakening of Candra, Ann Rule's only novel, Possession, and (I think?) an episode of Forensic Files (I know I've seen the story re-enacted, so it was either Forensic Files or The New Detectives): Thomas Leslie Brown encountered a young couple fishing in the Oregon woods; having shot the young woman's husband and her dog, he spent three days dragging her through the mountains, raping her when he felt like it, and brainwashed her into believing that she had witnessed her husband's accidental death. It took her months to get reality sorted out again.




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truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Sidneyia inexpectans)
Waste Land: The Savage Odyssey of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann FugateWaste Land: The Savage Odyssey of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate by Michael Newton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I'm of two minds about this book. On the one hand, it's all compiled from secondary sources; on the other, Newton collates his sources carefully, talks about discrepancies, and is clearly doing his own thinking, which I appreciate. He's an engaging writer, and he lays out the facts of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate's killing spree about as clearly as can be hoped for. I guess my problem is that I can't get a good read on how trustworthy he is--just because it's well-written doesn't mean it's a reliable source.

And the nature of the Starkweather/Fugate case foregrounds the question of reliability, with Starkweather's umpteen different confessions, all of them muddled, and Fugate's proclamations of terrorized innocence, so starkly at odds with basically EVERYTHING ELSE (including the self-contradictions in her testimony). Today she could probably make a case on Stockholm Syndrome, but I'm not even sure that that was what was going on. The fact that she and Starkweather dreamed up a clumsy "hostage" scenario before they even left the Fugate home tends to militate against the plausibility of any claim that Caril Ann Fugate, fourteen years old or not, did not know exactly what she was doing. But, on the other hand . . .



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truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Sidneyia inexpectans)
Son: A Psychopath and his VictimsSon: A Psychopath and his Victims by Jack Olsen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


So far as anyone knows, Kevin Coe never escalated to murder, but Jack Olsen's narrative makes it clear it was only going to be a matter of time. Coe is currently incarcerated in a "Special Commitment Center"--a dreadfully Orwellian title for a facility that holds sexual predators; the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's article about his attempt to sue the state of Washington makes it absolutely clear that he hasn't changed a particle since 1981 when he was first convicted; he's using the same arguments and the same language. That in itself suggests to me that he is where he belongs.

Son is an excellent book. Olsen has a sprawling story, a lot of people whose voices need to be heard, and some remarkable pieces of truth stranger than fiction, including Coe's mother in toto. Olsen doesn't rush, but there's no sense of wandering or rambling. He knows what story he's telling, and he balances it beautifully: Coe, his victims, his family and friends, the police, the city of Spokane (which is a character in this book in its own right). Olsen charts the damage done to Coe's victims but also to his friends, his girlfriend, his ex-wife; the book ends, in fact, with an oddly lovely and moving description of Jenifer Coe trying to put herself back together: "After twenty-eight months of self-imposed house arrest, she rode the bus downtown to look for work. She said she felt like Columbus sailing toward the edge of the earth" (570).



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truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Sidneyia inexpectans)
A Rage to Kill and Other True Cases (Crime Files, #6)A Rage to Kill and Other True Cases by Ann Rule

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


  • A Bus to Nowhere
  • The Killer Who Planted His Own Clues
  • Born to Kill?
  • As Close as a Brother
  • Profile of a Spree Killer
  • The Lost Lady
  • To an Athlete Dying Young
  • Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town
  • That Was No Lady
  • The Killer Who Talked Too Much


Even if you don't want to read about this handful of sociopaths, go take a look at the Fremont Troll.
click! )
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
A Rose for Her Grave and Other True Cases (Crime Files, #1)A Rose for Her Grave and Other True Cases by Ann Rule

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



  • A Rose for Her Grave
  • Campbell's Revenge
  • The Hit Person
  • The Runaway
  • The Rehabilitation of a Monster
  • Molly's Murder

  • Dear men, If you ever wonder why women spend their lives being subliminally afraid, read this book.
    click! )
    truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cm: sr-damsel1)
    Slotkin, Richard. Regeneration through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press-University Press of New England, 1973.

    Chapter 3: A Home in the Heart of Darkness: The Origin of the Indian War Narratives (1625-1682)

    But first, a wildly out of context quote from the incomparable Stephen Jay Gould: "Mythology does have its use as a powerful aid to narrative" (Wonderful Life 81). Gould is talking about a different subject, but the same problem: the way that mythology shapes stories, the way that it's easier to tell the story the mythology expects than it is to tell what really happened. And the way that that warps the story you're trying to tell.

    The lack of human heroes in the King Philips War tracts is remarkable. )
    truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
    Slotkin, Richard. Regeneration through Violence. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press-University Press of New England, 1973.

    Chapter 2: Cannibals and Christians: European vs. American Indian Culture
    In Europe all men were under authority; in America all men dreamed they had the power to become authority. )
    truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
    Slotkin, Richard. Regeneration through Violence. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press-University Press of New England, 1973.

    Chapter 1: Myth and Literature in a New World
    myths reach out of the past to cripple, incapacitate, or strike down the living )

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