Dark Places

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

So I really enjoyed the book Gone Girl, and was interested in Flynn’s other works. I just hadn’t had a chance to read them.

Yeah, I have a giant to-read book list.

So the book is split into three parts: Libby Day in the present, and her mom and brother, Ben, in the past.

When Libby Day was seven, her mother and sisters were brutally murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. The murderer? Her Brother!?!!!

Libby managed to hide and escape the house, hiding in the snow. She lost part of her toes, but had her life-and gained PTSD.

People felt sorry for Libby and donated a lot of money to her, to help her. She has tried to work, but just can’t. Unfortunately, the money has started to run out and Libby is lost at what to do next.

She looks at her “fan mail” and sees an offer to true-crime group’s meeting. For a personal appearance they will give her a big chunk of money.

She calls the guy and sets up a meeting. They discuss it and Libby decides to come. It all turns out to be a big mistake. None of these people believe Ben did it. They all attack her and her testimony.

Jordan

Libby becomes so upset she leaves and doesn’t look back.

Afterwards, she starts thinking about it. There is no doubt in her mind that Ben did it, but maybe those guys will pay her to investigate it. To talk to people.

She goes back to the group and they are in. Soon Libby is asking questions, researching, and finding out things she had never realized or thought about. Could she have been wrong? Is Ben innocent?

Hmm…

In both the Mom’s and Ben’s chapters we travel back before the incident. Libby’s mom is trying to make ends meet. She married Michael Day and inherited the family farm. Michael turns out to be a jerk wad who does nothing. He leaves and things grow tighter and tighter in the household. She barely has enough to make pancakes. What will she do? How will they survive.

Ben hates his life. Ben hates being poor. He hates having nothing. He has a hot girlfriend but she and her “cousin” make fun of him when they are together. No way they are just “cousins”, they they are all on each other. He does like one thing, helping out in the elementary school and is crushing on an elementary age girl. Did he murder his family?

Thoughts After Reading

Gillian Flynn is a great author but this is a very dark, dark book-that name is on point.

Too dark for me, hold me

And I could not stand the parts where Ben is talking about the elementary girl’s body and breasts, I reached that part and I was done!

For more retrograde mysteries, go to I’ve Got You Under My Skin

For more not in a series books, go to Big Little Lies

Real Murders

Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden Mystery #1) by Charlaine Harris

So you all know how much I love book sales.

Part of the fun is the mystery that you never know what you are going to find at a sale.

So one book sale I went to, it was the last day and they were trying to unload everything. It was a dollar a bag so I filled mine up with anything I found that sparked my interest.

I can’t help it, it is an addiction.

This one struck my eye as it was a mystery, involved a serial killer, and copying “real murders”.

This was during my “I want to be a behavioral scientist” phase, before Criminal Minds came out, and I would read anything on the subject. So this idea of someone copying real murders seemed like a hit idea to me.

I enjoyed the book so much, that I read it at least four times a year. The story is great, the characters fun, the mystery just perfect. It is a fantastic read and so engrossing! I just couldn’t put it down.

I was shocked when I discovered that this was the same Harris that wrote the Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries. I never would have made that connection as this isn’t as sex generated or full of supernatural characters.

And with Hallmark turning this book into a film, one that I can review for Horrorfest if I desire, what better time to choose to review this book?

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Aurora “Roe” Teagarden is in her late twenties and lives a pretty quiet life in Lawrenceton, Georgia. She works as manager for her mother’s condos and as a librarian.

Her best friend moved away recently, and she isn’t seeing anyone romantically. The only other thing she is really involved in, is the club Real Murders.

A year ago there was a book signing of a true crime novel and several people from Lawrenceton traveled to the city to attend. When they realized they all shared an interest in true crime they created a group that meets once a month to discuss past crimes, try to figure out unsolved cases, and learn about police work or the criminal mind. Each time they meet, a different person has a chance to create a program and share with the group.

Their group consists of Roe: Jane Engle, retired school librarian and substitute, specializing in Victorian murders, particularly Madeline Smith; LeMaster Cane, African-American and interested in the racial killings of the ’60s and ’70s, especially the Zebra murders and Jones-Piagentini shootings; John Queensland, Roe’s mother’s boyfriend, an expert on Lizzie Borden; Sally Allison, newspaper reporter; Perry Allison, Sally’s son, is not quite all there and shows an unhealthy interest in the Hillside Stranglers and the Green River killer; Gifford Doakes and his friend (boyfriend?) Reynaldo, who likes massacres such as St. Valentine’s Day or the Holocaust; Detective Arthur Smith, interested in studying old crimes and seeing how police worked the case; Bankston Waites and his girlfriend Melanie; Benjamin Greer, guy who has tried everything to “belong”; Gerald Wright and his jealous wife Mamie.

Tonight is Roe’s night to share and she is covering the Wallace case from the 1930s, where William Herbert Wallace was convicted for killing his wife Julia. She is a little nervous and heads over slightly early. This month Mamie is the opener of the VFW hall they rent, followed by Sally who is in charge of refreshments. When Roe gets there she looks around for the others, but instead receives a phone call asking to speak to Julia Wallace.

Roe can’t find Mamie, but runs into Sally. As more people arrive, Roe finds it even odder they haven’t found Mamie in the building.

Surprisingly Elizabeth Ann “Lizanne” Buckley, the most beautiful and easily bored woman in town, comes to the meeting and brings Robin Crusoe, mystery writer.

Roe can’t brush off Mamie’s disappearance and starts searching the building for her. As she looks, she comes across her dead body.

Roe goes into shock over seeing her that way, but notices  the similarities between this and the Wallace case. So eerily similar that someone must have copied it and arranged the body.

Everyone is subjected to long questioning, with Detective Arthur Smith making plans to meet with Roe the next day and get more information on the Wallace case.

The next day comes and Roe is finally able to give the talk she practiced.

Wallace Herbert Wallace was a Liverpool insurance salesman (like Gerald), and married with no children (just like the Wrights). Wallace had a regular schedule for collecting insurance payments from subscribers to his company and he bring the money home on Tuesdays. Wallace played chess and was entered in the tournament at his local club. There was a chart on the wall detailing when each person would play, one anybody could see.

Wallace didn’t have a phone at home and received a message from another member who had taken a call from a “Qualtrough” to meet him at his house the next evening.

Now the call came when Wallace wasn’t at the club so he could have left it himself at a phone booth down the way. He talks about the message with his friends at the club; is he puzzled or just trying to instill the message in other’s minds?

The next night, Wallace goes out to meet Qualtrough. Qualtrough left the address Menlove Gardens East, but no such place exists. Wallace asks many people for help, even a policeman. Is he set on getting the new client or is he just trying to create an alibi?

Wallace returns home but his key won’t work. Julia has bolted the front door for some reason and won’t answer any knocks on the door. A couple who lives next door hears him as he heads in the back to get into the house; Wallace and the couple enter the house and see things out of place.

The box where the insurance money is usually held has been rifled. Wallace checks the house and finds his wife in the parlor, a room rarely used. Julia is lying in front of the gas fire with a raincoat under her, and she has been beaten to death brutally, but not raped; just like Mamie.

There was no real case against Wallace, just a lot of circumstantial evidence and pressure to arrest the killer.

Roe is absolutely disgusted with this killer. They killed Mamie not because she was Mamie or they had an issue with her; something that would be partially understood psychologically, but only because she was an insurance salesman’s wife and childless.

And who will be next and which criminal will they be following next? Jack the Ripper? Ed Gein? The Blackburn Baby Killer?

Later Roe heads to the store and right into Robin Crusoe. Robin is interested in the case, and wants to know more, along with getting away from his disheveled house. While he is there a package comes to Roe, but it is actually for her mother, Aida Teagarden, and sent by Roe’s father. Roe lets her know and she comes right over.  The package is Mrs. See’s chocolate, her favorite!

But it is a bit odd that Roe’s father, Aida’s ex, would send her chocolate; and even stranger that it took six days to get from the city, an hour away.

Aida opens up the container and picks up a caramel filled one, when Roe notices that there is a puncture underneath.

Oh no!

She stops her mom and they look at all the cream filled ones. They all have punctures.

Arthur and his partner, Detective Lynn Ligget, come to question the group about the event and later it is revealed that the chocolates were poisoned. This murder copies the Botkin Case, as it appears someone is trying to kill all those in the group, or their family, copying real murders.

What?!

Aurora calls a meeting of Real Murders to see if they can figure out who the killer might be, who dislikes any of them? But no one is helpful and the group disbands.

Unfortunately that does not stop the killing, as Benjamin Greer’s boss, potential mayoral candidate is killed in the bathtub, the same way as Marat during the French Revolution.

Who’s next?

Meanwhile, amidst the killings, Roe has struck the interest of Robin and Arthur. Both men she finds very attractive, and who will win out as the series progresses? (For me I like Robin. Arthur is too egotistical and just expects her to go along with him even though he doesn’t really ask her like he should.)

Nah, he’s not a good guy.

But Roe has more on her mind than love, what murder will be copied next and which of her friends will be the next victim?

Thoughts After Reading:

I won’t reveal any more as the ending is great. You will definitely have to check this book out for yourself. What a twist!

The other thing I like about this is that it isn’t gruesome but very intellectual, with all the past true crime that was researched, it is just fascinating to boot.

Read it today!

For more librarian sleuth mysteries, go to Death Threads

For more serial killers, go to Next Victim

For more true crime, go to The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

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The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town by John Grisham

In small town Ada, Oklahoma; Ron Williamson was destined to become the next Micky Mantle. His only interests were baseball, beer, and girls. It was all he focused on as he barely graduated high school; decided to forgo college scholarships, and head off to the big leagues.

He ended up not making it to the big leagues, being sent to the minors to train; but Ron had no ambition enjoying his drink and women more.

Eventually he was cut and out of options returned home to Ada.

Ron started acting strange, suffering from mental illness, this not recognized at the time causing him to become a social pariah.

In 1982, a young cocktail waitress, Debra Sue Carter, was brutally murdered. Ron and his friend Dennis Fritz were arrested on lackluster testimony, more of a focus of people wanting to be rid of them as they disliked them.

Fritz was given life without parole and Williamson was given the death penalty. But when DNA testing that was developed and perfected in 1992, they later tested the hairs they found on the crime scene and where able to release the two on April 15, 1999.

What?!

Grisham follows the story from Ron’s childhood to his exoneration, but continual pariah in small town Ada.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was very well written and interesting, but also sad that these people stopped being objective and focused on having the evidence fit the suspect.

For more non-fiction, go to Ghost of the Hardy Boys

For more true crime stories, go to Cape May Court House: A Death in the Night

For more reviews, go to Death by Marriage

Sleeping Beauty

sleepingbeauty

I’m not talking about that Sleeping Beauty. I’m talking about this one:

sleepingbeauty

Sleeping Beauty by Phillip Margolin

Lawyer Miles Van Meter is on a book tour to promote his bestseller, Sleeping Beauty, a true crime account of the attack on his twin sister Casey that left her in a coma.

Aw...

Aw…

As Miles begins discussing the case, talking about everything that happened, little does he know that afterwards; something extremely important to the case will be revealed.

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We travel to six years earlier and to an event that would change the course of someone’s life forever.

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Ashley is seventeen years old, soccer star, and just your average girl next door. After winning the state championship, her best friend decides to stay the night. But what should have been a fun time with friends turns out to be night filled with horror.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

But somebody else decides to crash the party.

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A serial killer kills Ashley’s father, along with raping and murdering Tanya. After taking care of Tanya the serial killer does something completely unusual, takes a break and eats some cake left out downstairs.

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How weird is that? Does killing activate his sweet tooth? Is he so confident in his success he can just break to celebrate?

HMMM

While he is occupied, Ashley is able to escape.

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After the ordeal, Ashley is ready to give up on everything. That is, until she and her mother receive an invitation and scholarship for the prestigious private school, Oregon Academy. They decide the best thing for everyone is a new start, and accept. There they meet Casey Van Meter who shows them the school and introduces the pair to their onsite writer, Joshua Maxfield. Ashley’s mother, Terri, decides to stay on for the summer to attend Joshua’s writing class while Ashley helps out in the summer soccer camp.

Lordoftherings LifeisGood

Terri attends the writing class and becomes horrified when she hears Maxfield read a story that is full of details of her daughter’s case, including the part about eating sweets which was never publicized.

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Terri notifies the police and starts researching into Maxfield. When Terri discusses it with Casey, Casey rebuffs her; only to call Terri later and stranglely, ask to meet up at the boathouse to reveal some information.

Very fishy

Very fishy

Later that same night, Ashley is walking around when she has the misfortune to hear screams and discover her mother’s and Casey’s stabbed bodies.

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She also sees Maxfield with a knife.

AAAAHHHHH

While a huge manhunt after Maxfield commences, once again Ashley flees for her life.

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Within this story are a lot of twists and turns, secret adoptions, revealed identities, psychotic killers, and more.

urkelgif interesting hmm

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Thoughts After Reading:

I HATED this book.

Hate him.

The plot wasn’t bad but the way it was told was horrible.

IDon'tlikeit

It keeps going back and forth in time which is so confusing and makes it so hard to focus on what was happening and when it happened.

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At times I thought it was boring and a bit too unbelievable. Really stretching it there.

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I thought that the end twist was good, but the path wasn’t done well. It was just too confusing and made the book horrible to me.

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For more stand alone mysteries, go to Ticker

For more serial killers, go to The Alchemy of Murder

For more mysteries, go to A Murder in Mohair

Cape May Court House: A Death in the Night

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Cape Night Court House: A Death in the Night by Lawrence Schiller

This story is based on the true story and case started by Dr. Eric Thomas against Ford Vehicles, but then took a strange twist down adultery, and possible murder.

thenannygasp

This case took place back in the ’90s. Dr. Thomas, his wife Tracy Rose Thomas, and 18 month old daughter Alex all got into the car to take sick Alex to the hospital. For some reason, Tracey was driving the car while being pregnant, and she was the only one killed and injured.

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The autopsy should she died from blunt force trauma, consistent with smacking her head in a car accident, however there were some suspicious marks on Tracey’s neck that brought up questions.

suspicious Hmm

Her family was shocked at the death, and also thought it was a bit strange. Why would Tracey drive, she never drove when pregnant. And right before she died, Tracey had called in the middle of the night and made her parents promise to make sure, that if anything happened to her to take her daughter.

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Things got stranger still, right after Tracey died. Dr. Thomas asked Tracey’s family, the Roses, to remove every image of Tracey or else they wouldn’t be able to see Alex again.

What?

Even more suspicious Dr. Thomas remarries his old sweetheart Stephanie, very quickly and without even mentioning it to Tracey’s family. As the Roses become more and more skeptical, they discuss their views with the cops, bringing to light the strange way in which Dr. Thomas had answered questions after the accident, even switching and mistakenly answering things.

Sad but true.

Meanwhile, Dr. Thomas decides to open a case against Ford, blaming the car company’s faulty airbags on her death.

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Of course, Ford would never wish to payout and they start investigating, discovering that Dr. Thomas had been having an affair with Stephanie long before Tracey died. And a lot of debts, debts that were paid for by her life insurance.

Interesting

Interesting

Was Tracy Thomas killed in a car accident, or was the accident a cover up for murder?

urkelgif interesting hmm

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Thoughts after Reading:

I thought it was good, the only thing I didn’t care was the endless facts on cars, car safety, etc.

im_bored_himym

Yes, it was very dry and I just wanted to skip it all.

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But the rest of the story was very interesting, but inconclusive. As it is real life, we don’t get a nice tidy ending; in fact all we get are more questions.

questionsspeculatingwaiting

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For more non-fiction, go to The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars

For more book reviews, go to A is for Alibi

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars

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The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins

I first became aware of this book through a contest. You entered to win the book, the only thing required of you was to write an honest review.

I entered and couldn’t wait for my email saying they were sending the book to my kindle!

Please!

I checked my email, and I saw that they decided to not send me the book.

What?

As they felt I wasn’t suited to it, that I wasn’t the “right choice” of reader.

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I was so mad.

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But I still really wanted to read it. So I put it on my Goodreads’ list, and decided to wait until my library bought a copy, to borrow and read it.

So lo and behold, I got my hands on a copy and I LOVED IT!

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The book chronicles the discovery of chopped up body found in different sections of New York City, in 1897. All the great newspapers were sparring at the time and competing as to who could find the man’s identity and figure out the killer first. The book is divided into seven parts.

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I: The Victim

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The pieces of the body are found scattered throughout the city and surrounding, minus a head. From boys discovering the chest while taking a dip off a pier; a family going cherry picking and finding a leg; to a farmer looking at a red duck pond and realizing that not only has blood tainted the water but there is also a body part.

Which such an astounding discovery, reporters are sent out everywhere, investigating before the police even decided it was a murder case.

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II: The Suspects

Are you lying to me?

After figuring out who the mutilated corpse was, reporters discover his lover Mrs. Nack, her estranged husband, and new love interest. Which one did the killing? Who is innocent?

Each newspaper backs up a seperate person as innocent and persecutes who they believe to be a villian. It is up to the police to do actual work in investigating who has the motive, means, and of course: who actually did it not who makes the best news.

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III: The Indictment

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The police settle on who they believe the killer is, the D.A is building a case and defense attorneys are fighting for their chance to represent the case of a lifetime.

Now just because the police are preparing to prosecute someone, doesn’t mean it is all over fpor the newspapers. They are still contending with each other, and making sure everyone knows the facts and fiction.

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IV: The Trial

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Jury selection begins, a truly difficult matter as with the newspapers how they are, as practically every person is aware of what the case entails.

As the accused await trial, the newspapers continue to cover and predict what will happen next. Men and women travel from all over to watch the trial, enduring a rotten stench, extreme heat, and other issues arising from the poor construction of a courthouse.

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V: The Verdict

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The jury and judge decide whom the guilty parties are and distribute sentence. Appeals are made to the government and the newspapers.

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VI: Epilogue

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Collins concludes with not only a summarization of what happened next in our main character’s lives; but also gives a brief lesson on the newspapers rises, falls, and buyouts.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I ABSOLUTELY LOVED this book.

fantastic

I thought it was supremely perfect. It was informative, historical, and told everything in an amazing and interesting way. I know many historians fall victim to being dry and dull, but not this work. In fact I had the hardest time putting it down.

from janeaustenrunsmylife.wordpress.com

from janeaustenrunsmylife.wordpress.com

Everything about it was just amazing! I am dying to buy a copy. And I am looking forward to reading more of Collins’ work.

startatponcestartrek

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For more Goodreads recommendations, go to The Dollhouse Murders

For more book reviews, go to Good, Clean, Murder