Category Archives: True Crime

WILDCAT – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Wildcat: The Untold Story of Pearl Hart, the Wild West's Most Notorious Woman Bandit Joh Boessenecker
Wildcat: The Untold Story of Pearl Hart, the Wild West’s Most Notorious Woman Bandit John Boessenecker
TitleWildcat: The Untold Story of Pearl Hart, the Wild
West’s Most Notorious Woman Bandit 
AuthorJohn Boessenecker
PublisherHanover Square Press (November 2, 2021)
FormatKindle, Hardcover, Audiobook, Audio CD
Pages385
GenreHistory of Southwestern United States, Criminal
& Memoirs of Criminals
LanguageEnglish
ASIN # B08QZHQZZT

AUTHOR

Author John Boessenecker

True West magazine, in 2011 and 2013, named Boessenecker Best Nonfiction Writer. He received a prestigious Spur award from Western Writers of America and Best Book award from Westerners International. He has appeared frequently as a historical commentator on PBS, The History Channel, A&E, and other media.

SYNOPSIS

John Boessenecker breathed new life into an old case; the case of Lillie N. Davy known by the noms de guerre of Pearl Hart. Drawing upon his research skills, he’s removed the fallacies, the myths, the lies and revealed in extraordinary detail the life and times of Pearl Hart. She was one of the most notorious late 19th Century female criminals of the old West. Pearl was a cross-dressing female with a flare for making herself incognito when the need arose. Her endless dalliances with numerous men doesn’t mark her as unique however, her need to control situations was unique for a woman of that time. At a period in history where women were meant to be housebound homemakers; meek, submissive, barefoot and pregnant; Pearl railed against the expected norms and challenged the mores of the time. 

What John Boessenecker has presented in Wildcat is the unoccluded view of a female recidivist from child to adulthood. His research is as exceptional as it is detailed and he comingles them into a completely engrossing narrative. Boessenecker artfully recounts Pearl’s story from her parents brief courtship to her birth and on. He details ad infinitum her early years as the daughter of an indigent, semi-literate, workshy child molester and petty criminal in Canada. We follow her itinerant lifestyle across  many years and locations culminating with the pinnacle of her criminal enterprise; a coach robbery. 

Throughout the book we discover Pearl’s life of bitter poverty, abuse, and abysmal parenting culminating in a damaged woman bereft of morals, dignity or honesty. Like many women in those historic days, she was often forced to make difficult decisions just to survive. After viewing her circumstances in the round one cannot help but be sympathetic.

Boessenecker reveals the uncompromising world that Pearl lived in and the uncompromising woman that it birthed. From his detailed accounts, she owned the ‘Wildcat’ nickname. She lived life her own way, loved risk taking and took the punishment where she found it. She was intelligent and ‘street smart,’ a potent combination for an erstwhile career criminal.

Living in a time where women rarely left the home once they were betrothed and were kept in check by societal and socio-cultural norms, Pear turned the world on its head to live her own way. She seamlessly integrates into the criminal underclass not as a woman, but as a boy and later a man. She would alter her outer appearance by cutting her hair and affecting a manly stride. She was often found in the company of the criminal class sharing or gleaning useful information for future criminal activities. Peal, we discover, took things to a whole new level when she began utilizing firearms. Weapons that no doubt added to her sense of safety and security, especially due to the company she would often keep. 

She is such an outrageous character, that it is amazing that her story has been lost in time until now. It seems strange that she is forgotten but characters like Big Nose Kate still hold a semblance of allure for many Western History fans. If I were to compare the two, I would say that Pearl’s story has far more impact than the latter. 

The review of Wildcat would not be complete without mentioning Katy Davy, Pearl’s younger sister. An outrageous character every bit as unique as her older sibling. Katy Davy, who used the sobriquets of Millie Davy has an incredible nerve and was talented physically and mentally. Both sisters were, without-a-doubt, survivors; Katy even more so. At thirty-six-years-old, in the 1890’s, Katy became an ascensionist and a descensionist. She took a rest from being a fille de joie started parachuting from a balloon at a thousand feet. Following a near fatal accident she retired, but not for too long. The many tales of prison escapes, her years as a teenage madam and rescuing her husband from prison, Katy appears to have an unending skill in creative problem solving. They sisters even made it into Cosmopolitan magazine, the nations most popular women’s publication at that time. The sisters were walking contradictions for women of their time.

CONCLUSION

John Boessenecker’s writing style is compelling from the very beginning. His research is second to none, and his narrative is fascinating throughout.

The book is entertaining, inspiring, alarming and touching in equal measure. The main characters are mentally re-created. Boessenecker did an exceptional job in breathing life back into the long dead. He avoided tainting the account with his own opinions and simply reported the facts previously occluded by time, myth, disinformation and lies. Overall, John Boessenecker created a fair illustration of the characters, the time period and the environment in which they lived. He’s managed to inject new life in the antics and life of Pearl Hart and her sister. It is a superior read. Some of the material discussed will remain with you long after you have read it.

I highly recommend Wildcat to all adults and children over the age of sixteen. It is entertaining, heartbreaking, outrageous and so much more in-between. If you enjoy reading about true survivors of extreme circumstances, look no further because Wildcat is the story of two consummate survivors.

Wildcat will resonate with you if you are an avid reader of Western History of the United States, Criminal Biographies or Women in History. This it is a rip-roaring tale. You know that if Pearl were alive today, she would be down at Cancún during Spring Break doing whatever she wants whilst engaging in some nefarious activity. You are left with the feeling that she was mad, bad and dangerous to know, but that she was also probably huge fun. 

Why not give it a read yourself? Be prepared, it’s quite a ride; remember to hold on to your hat!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank John Boessenecker, Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Wildcat: The Untold Story of Pearl Hart, the Wild West’s Most Notorious Woman.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

RELATED POSTS

A TALENT TO DECEIVE – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

A Talent To Deceive by William Morris
TitleA Talent to Deceive: The Search for the Real
Killer of the Lindbergh Baby
AuthorWilliam Norris
PublisherCamCat Publishing, LLC (July 7, 2020)
FormatUnabridged Audiobook
Time11 hours and 52 minutes
GenreMurder True Crime
LanguageEnglish
ASIN # B08BQKX1NW

AUTHOR

William Norris

SYNOPSIS

A Talent to Deceive, by William Norris, focuses on the kidnapping of Charles Augustus Lindbergh Junior on the evening of March 1st, 1932. He was the son of the renowned aviator Charles Augustus Lindbergh Senior; the first person to fly across the Atlantic non-stop. Norris’ work is an in-depth and skillful investigation using a diverse range of contemporary sources. He seeks to enlighten us to the facts, opinions, and contemporaneous evidence he discovered through his extensive research. What he discovers has convinced him there was a miscarriage of justice.

If you are familiar with the case then buckle up because your preconceptions are about to be shaken in an avalanche of newly discovered information. Forget about what you thought you knew, try to put aside your biases and open yourself up to Norris’ detailed version of the events. 

On a Spring evening 98 years ago, 20 month old Charles Lindbergh Jr. was kidnapped and murdered. Eventually, the perpetrator was tracked, tried and executed; at least that is what we thought. Norris reopens the case with a comprehensive breakdown of the people and events that led to the disappearance and subsequent death of the Lindbergh baby. He leaves no stone unturned, and his research indicates a miscarriage of justice took place and the wrong man was tried and executed. He delves into the characters surrounding the investigation and how they influenced the outcome; including how Charles Lindbergh Sr. took over the case. Norris makes a compelling case that the “Crime of the Century” still remains unsolved.

CONCLUSION

A Talent to Deceive begins as a non-fiction true crime drama but quickly evolves into a political psycho-drama with twists and turns, strong personalities and secrets. There is much to commend in A Talent To Deceive, not the least of these is the in-depth and detailed research undertaken by the author. His innate skill and deft prose are always engaging and entertaining. Norris manages to encourage the reader to empathize with the events that took place almost one hundred years ago. He quickly draws the reader into the historic case in such away that it affects you emotionally, intellectually, and psychologically. It is easy for the reader to become completely invested in Norris’ version of events. It is only with distance and hindsight that a dispassionate analysis is possible; even then a reader may still feel uneasy as to the events in those days so very long ago. 

If this is the first time you have come across the Lindbergh case, you can expect a real feast of information. Norris writes with conviction and clearly feels strongly about both the crime and the alleged unsafe-conviction. Most of all, he expresses his deep unease with regard to the motivations of the key players; including Charles Lindbergh Sr. and the State actors that conspired with, or for, Charles Lindbergh Sr.

A Talent to Deceive will live in your memory long after you have read it and certainly would stand a second or even a third read. This book is a must have for the avid true crime community and a special addition to the real crime aficionado’s library. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank William Norris, NetGalley, and CamCat Publishing LLC. for affording me the opportunity to review A Talent to Deceive: The Search for the Real Killer of the Lindbergh Baby.

OTHER WORK BY THIS AUTHOR

Willful Misconduct by William Norris
Willful Misconduct by William Norris

KILLER TRIGGERS – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Killer Triggers by Joe Kenda
TitleKiller Triggers: Murder Comes Down to Sex, Drugs,
or Money
AuthorJoe Kenda
NarratorJoe Kenda
PublisherBlackstone Publishing (March 09, 2021)
FormatUnabridged Audiobook, Kindle & Hardback
Time8 hours and 30 minutes
GenreCriminology, Law Enforcement Biographies
LanguageEnglish
ASIN #B08GGBRHXQ

“The magnificent 8 we made beautiful music that year from murder and mayhem.”

Joe Kenda, Killer Triggers. Narrated by Joe Kenda., Audible, 2021. Audiobook.

#CriminologyAudiobooks #LawEnforcementBiographies #TrueCrime #TrueCrimeAudiobooks

AUTHOR

Former Police Lieutenant, Joe Kenda is the author of Killer Triggers. Read more about Kenda’s background here.

SYNOPSIS

Killer Triggers by Joe Kenda is an unabridged audiobook that is a phantasmagoria of real world criminals and their motivations. Sometimes hard to stomach, Kenda delivers a phlegmatic narration that contrasts starkly from the horrors that he describes. At times, there is a slight trepidation in his voice, tone, or tremor. His varied tonation indicates a deeper emotional recollection of the crimes that still evoke unease in his soul.

One particular recollection of Kenda’s, involved the events that occurred at The Avenue in Colorado Springs. Two Fort Carson Soldiers, Army Specialist Layne Shmidtke and Sargent Joseph Reeves, were attacked on September 11, 1991. Over 700 witnesses saw the crime. Kenda explains how his 8 man team worked tirelessly to identify all those involved and discover their motivations.

Kanda details the grimness of the job that murder detectives do on a daily basis. Sometimes he punctuates it with a hint of irreverence to warm the cold horror of some of the cases he’s been involved in. The worst crimes involve small children. Those of a more delicate disposition may want to avoid those accounts.

There is a very real sense throughout that Kenda is still all cop inside, evidenced by his television presentations and his writing. He comes across as the kind of man you would want on your side in a criminal investigation. He is loyal, forensically aware and intelligent. Just as importantly, he had a dogged determination to leave no stone unturned ensuring that the criminals were brought to justice.

CONCLUSION

Killer Triggers contains a host of disturbing content. At 8 hours and 30 minutes, it is about the average length for a work of its kind. Many true crime readers out there may consider it less impactful than some other similar works due to the staccato pace. The crimes stack up quickly and contemplation comes once the book is finished.
 
Killer Triggers is a stark reminder to us all that Law Enforcement Officers have a most unique job. A job that requires them to be social workers one moment, traffic management personnel at another, and defenders of the population sometimes through the use of deadly force. Can we be surprised that the men and women of the Police suffer health and psychological issues? They are forced  to be Mary Poppins one moment and Judge Dredd the next. Is it really any wonder that alcoholism, domestic abuse, and suicide plague the Law  Enforcement community?  

Kenda can put a brave face on it, but the nerve shredding sights, smells, and emotional baggage created by investigating these horrific crimes, scar the individual permanently. The memories still haunt him. At other time he uses graveyard humor to deal with horrors he witnessed. Dealing with monstrous crimes, as Joe Kenda and his team did day-after-day, seems to leave little room for sentiment. The most egregious crimes are those involving children. These undercurrents of psychological turmoil were not covered, but could be felt throughout the book. Unsurprisingly, Kenda’s delivery is emotionally separate and heavily redacted in terms of police operation methods .

If you were a family member of a murder victim, Kenda is the kind of Law Enforcement Officer that you would demand. He is Intelligent, doggedly, determined, forensically and legally aware. The kind of law officer that will turn over every stone to capture the criminal that stole your loved one.

NARRATION

Joe Kenda’s dedication to his craft is evident in every word as he deftly reads his own prose. There is a laconic fall-off to his spoken word that leaves us in no doubt that he still carries the memories of all those unforgettable crimes that he once witnessed. He uses vocal emphasis by changing the speed of his delivery and his tonality thus adding weight to the alarming acts of violence. There is an authority to his voice that demands your undivided attention. He conversationally relays the information to the listener in a way that is both engaging and riveting.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

OTHER WORK BY THIS AUTHOR

I will Find You, by Detective Joe Kenda True Crime

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to than Joe Kenda, NetGalley, and Blackstone Publishing for affording me the opportunity to review Killer Triggers.

Mutiny On The Spanish Main – Review

Litercurious Book Review

Mutiny on the Spanish Main by angus Konstam book review on Maritime History & Piracy and 18th Century World History
Mutiny on the Spanish Main by Angus Konstam
TitleMutiny on the Spanish Main: HMS Hermione and the Royal Navy’s revenge
AuthorAngus Konstam 
PublisherOsprey Publishing (October 27, 2020)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Hardcover
Pages320
GenreMaritime History & Piracy, 18th Century World History, Maritime History & Piracy
LanguageEnglish
ASIN/ISBN-10/13B0877CYJ72 /  1472833791 / 978-1472833792

AUTHOR

Angus Konstam 

SYNOPSIS

Mutiny on the Spanish Main is the bloody story of the HMS Hermione; the mutiny, murder, her transfer to the Spanish and subsequent recapture, and the Royal Navy’s never ending search and punishment for the mutineers.

In 1797 the crew of the HMS Hermione mutinied against its officers. They murdered the officers in a cruel and horrific manner. Then the crew stole the ship and fleeing for their lives and turned it over to the Spanish.

Mutiny on the Spanish Main is an in depth study of the causes and ramifications of the mutiny. Angus Konstam provides a look into the Royal Navy’s operating procedures, the lives of the seamen, and the hardships of the times. Life aboard ship was hard and trying. Punishment was severe and sometimes dished out without remorse. Seamen were “conscripted” into service and were basically no more than slaves. Men were stolen from all over and pressed into service. They were guarded at all times on shore to ensure they didn’t escape. Punishment ranged from beatings, to being keel-holed or even hung.

Captain Hugh Pigot, the commander of HMS Hermione, was a cruel and sadistic leader. He routinely dished out severe and arbitrary punishment to his crew. The crew was so distressed by the thought of being punished by the smallest infraction, that when Captain Pigot threatened to lash the last man down from the mast, three of them fell to their death.

The constant beatings, poor treatment, and lack of respect for human dignity finally forced the crew to takes matters into their own hands. What followed was the bloodiest and cruelest mutiny in the British Royal Navy. The Admiralty doggedly pursued the mutineers around the globe to bring them to justice.

CONCLUSION

Mutiny on the Spanish Main is a detailed account of the life and times of British sailors in the Royal Navy in the late 1700’s to early 1800’s. Angus Konstam details the methodology of seamanship, naval battles, politics, and discipline of the times. He provides an in depth look into the Royal Navy, the different types of ships and their primary purpose, the crew compliment, their different missions around the world, and how discipline was enforced aboard ship.

The research into this book is very good. The author provides an accurate look into the history of Naval Warfare and the British Royal Navy. He covers world politics, daily life, class structure, Naval Battles, supplies, disease, different ports, and the running and maintaining of the ships.

Overall, I found this book interesting and informative. I would recommend this read to anyone who has an interest in seamanship, maritime history, or the Royal Navy.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Angus KonstamNetGalley, and Osprey Publishing for affording me the opportunity to review Mutiny on the Spanish Main: HMS Hermione and the Royal Navy’s Revenge.

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WE THOUGHT WE KNEW YOU – Review

Litercurious Book Review

Header Image for We Thought We Knew You a True Crime Audiobook By M. William Phelps.
TitleWe Thought We Knew You: A Terrifying True
Story of Secret, Betrayal, Deception, and Murder
AuthorM. William Phelps
NarratorDanny Campbell
PublisherTantor Audio (29 December, 2020)
FormatUnabridged Audiobook also available in
Kindle, Hardback
Time9 Hours 48 Minutes
GenreTrue Crime, Biographies of Murder & Mayhem
LanguageEnglish
ASIN #B08QLK4YL1

AUTHOR

M. WILLIAM PHELPS

SYNOPSIS

We Thought We Knew You is a book written by the prolific true crime writer and investigative journalist, M. William Phelps.

Mary Yoder is dead at sixty.

It is July of 2015 and Mrs M. Yoder, a previously healthy married woman with one son, has just collapsed and died in great pain and discomfort. An autopsy reveals the terrible truth that Mary has been murdered.

Means, motive and opportunity are key indicators used by police to determine the suspicion of an individual suspected in the involvement of a crime. It was no different in the case of the murder of Mrs, Yoder. The family and those closest to her were the first to come under scrutiny. Her long time husband Bill, her son Adam, and his former girl-friend Kaitlyn (Katie) Conley formed the triad of characters under investigation. Quickly, the focus falls upon one of the three suspects.

The suspects are:

Kaitlyn Conley is an attractive, vivacious, and popular woman and the former girlfriend of Mary Yoder’s son. Following an acrimonious split, Katie continues to work at the Yoder’s family owned chiropractor’s office. Kaitlyn had suffered from a contentious relationship with Adam from which she continued to harbored unrequited rage. She has a history of rage combined with instability when it came to dealing with rejection in relationships.

Adam Yoder is a conscientious and hard working young man who in the time running up to Mary Yoder’s death had some verbal disagreements with his mother. These disagreements placed him in the purview of the investigation.

Then there was Bob Yoder, Mary’s long suffering husband. Could he have murdered his wife in such a brutal and heinous way?

Could it all be so simple? Could there be another more motivated killer on the loose? Or does this murder boil down to someone motivated by a combination of lust, control, and selfish greed?

In court, the Defense appears to be winning the case. With conflicting motives and the nimble mindedness of the Defense Team, they outmaneuver the Prosecution.

Then a Cyber Crime Forensic Expert comes to the aid of the prosecution council. A man who sifts through the hidden evidence and constructs an irrefutable truth based in cold, hard facts from meta-data. The true motive is revealed. Through a jigsaw like puzzle, the jury of their peers must decide who is to blame beyond any reasonable doubt.

So who did it in the end? The quickest and easiest way to discover the culprit, is to listen to it for yourself.

Happily, you can read We Thought We knew You for free on Kindle Unlimited. See link at the bottom of the page.

NARRATOR

We Thought We Knew You, was narrated by Danny Campbell.

I am sorry to say that I am not a fan of Campbell’s narration of this work. I found his flat diction, devoid of any intonation or fluidity to be below average. This combined with this his labored breathing was profoundly disquieting. His diction became a considerable distraction from the well formed prose of Phelps. The lack of vocal range, timpani, or any color created an uninspiring transition between characters. His lack of vocal range and labored breathing definitely had a negative impact upon my enjoyment of the audiobook.

CONCLUSION

We Thought We Knew You by M. William Phelps is not the best of his work. There were a number of times where I found some repetition. The tendency to transcend between one time and another proved to be a little disorientating. Despite that, I enjoyed Phelps unraveling of the conundrum that is: We Thought We Knew You.

One of the reasons that Phelps is a successful writer is he sincerely cares about the victims of the crimes he reports. His success cannot simply be attributed to his excellent skills in writing or his investigative methods. There is a palpable sense of anger and frustration that his subjects have been callously killed. This is borne out by the consistent pattern of his writing style in that he always has the victim as the fulcrum of the story. He consistently regales us with the minutiae of the victims daily lives and their hopes, dreams and vulnerabilities. He paints them in flesh and blood terms as they once were through the written word. This to me, this is what make M. William Phelps work stand out. In the world of true crime, he stands alone and unique in his defense of those who can no longer defend themselves.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

AS OF MARCH, 2021 THIS EBOOK IS FREE TO READ ON Kindle Unlimited

Now you can decided for yourself what you think, Simply click here to visit the page

SELECTION OF WORKS FROM THIS AUTHOR

See more from this author here.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank M. William Phelps, NetGalley, and Tantor Audio for affording me the opportunity to review We Thought We Knew You.

STOLEN – Review

LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

Title Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped Into Slavery
and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home
Author Richard Bell
Publisher 37 Ink (October 15, 2019)
Format Kindle, Hardcover         
Page 247     
Language English     
ISBN # 1501169432     

AUTHOR

Richard Bell is the author of Stolen. He currently teaches Early American History at the University of Maryland.

TARGET AUDIENCE

In a word; humanity.

SYNOPSIS

The time is 1825, the place Philadelphia, North America, and a small group of free black boys are about to be kidnapped. They are about to be transported as slaves to serve the needs and wants of a slave hungry South and its human Grissom for the Cotton Kingdom Mill. The real story, however, relates to the titanic strengths and fortitude exhibited by the 5 boys placed in the untenable excruciating predicament of having lived free and taken as slaves under the threat of violence. Despite the seemingly overwhelming odds, the boys seek ways to escape their bondage and return home. To discover if they manage to escape and the consequences of the events affecting their lives you will have to read it yourself. At its worst, this is one example of mans’ inhumanity to man. At its best, this is a call to the resilience of spirit and the power of unity in the face of extremes of privation and enormous adversity.

CONCLUSION

Masterfully written, flawlessly researched, and a tale of 5 free men abducted and taken on a journey of epic proportions. This is a work for our times; lest we forget. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

My sincere thanks go to: NetGalley, and 37 Ink for affording me the opportunity to review “Stolen.”

THOSE WHO WANDER – Review

Litercurious Book Review

SPECIAL MENTION

THOSE WHO WANDER IS CURRENTLY

READ FOR FREE ON KINDLEUNLIMITED

TitleThose Who Wander: America’s Lost Street Kids
AuthorVivian Ho
PublisherLittle A (September 1, 2019)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Hardcover
Page208
GenreSociology, Crime, Psychology
LanguageEnglish
ASIN #B07J56H9YH

AUTHOR

Vivian Ho is a journalist who covered the criminal justice beat for the San Francisco Chronicle and served on the newspaper’s breaking news team for six years. She was recently selected as a Livingston Awards finalist for her work on “A Life on the Line,” a series of two articles covering the story of San Francisco resident Cecilia Lam, a victim of domestic violence who was killed by her boyfriend in 2014. The same piece also won first place for the 2017 California News Publishers Association Award for In-Depth Reporting, and was awarded the Asian American Journalists Association 2018 Written Journalism Award for General Excellence.


Before she joined The Chronicle in 2011, Vivian reported for the Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. She has bylines in the Guardian, Topic, San Francisco magazine, the Muse, and Bustle.
A New England native, Vivian graduated from Boston University in 2011.

Vivian Ho biography from Amazon

SYNOPSIS

Those Who Wander is the debut offering from Vivian Ho. The central theme is the brutal double murder committed by homeless kids. Morrison Haze Lampley, Lila Scott Alligood, and Sean Angold murdered twenty-three-year-old Audrey Carey and sixty-seven-year-old Steve Carter. Because of the murders, the homeless, drifters, and runaways of the Bay Area were persecuted by the San Francisco populace.

Vivian takes us on a journey both gritty and disturbing into the life and times of the growing homeless population of children and young adults in modern day America. She delves deep into the homeless subculture and exposes abuse, drug addiction, failed foster care and over tasked child protective services. She exposes the tragic, the good and the bad surrounding the homeless subculture in San Francisco.

CONCLUSION

An Insightful and disturbing examination of the profound challenges, suffering, and implications for society; from the minor and adolescent itinerants roving the streets, unloved and uncared for.

Always honest and brutally frank, Vivian Ho’s account of life for children on the streets in the present day United States is brutal; and the brutality extends beyond the affected children.

The quality of writing alone makes this book worth reading, but combined with the investigative journalism makes this an exceptional monograph. I can say with confidence that I fully expect Vivian Ho to become an esteemed and prolifically successful popular author in the years to come.

Skillful journalism, perfectly paced and combined with a compelling writing style make Those Who Wander an absolute must read. It is infectious from the first pages to the last. I highly recommended this book to anyone who enjoys a well written prose.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

OTHER BOOKS AVAILABLE ON KINDLEUNLIMITED

Don’t forget that Those Who Wander it is read for free for a limited time on KindleUnlimited

MS-13 – Review

Litercurious Book Review

TitleMS-13: The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang
AuthorSteven Dudley
PublisherHanover Square Press; Original edition
(September 8, 2020)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Hardback, Audio CD
Page326
GenreBiographies of Murder & Mayhem, Organized Crime
True Accounts, Biographies of Organized Crime
LanguageEnglish
ASIN #B07NGPTZMM

AUTHOR

Steven Dudley is the co-director of InSight, based in Washington D.C. It is joint initiative of American University and the Fundación Ideas para la Paz in Colombia, South America. InSight is aimed at monitoring, analyzing and investigating organized crime in the Americas.

SYNOPSIS

Dudley’s investigative chronology of the South American gang known as The Mara Salvatrucha, or by their other monica MS-13. Mara means “gang” and Salvatrucha stands for Salvador. The number thirteen is for the M; the thirteenth letter of the alphabet. Although some claim that it is because “13” was included to honor the Mexican Mafia (the most influential prison gang in all of CA) which sought to broker peace between the gangs MS-13 and 18th for economic reasons. MS-13’s members are reported to exist in 33 States. A grand achievement considering their inauspicious beginnings in Los Angeles. It is claimed that their current numbers are in excess of three-quarters of a million members. Know primarily for their extreme violence and their primacy within the correctional institutions of the US; their origins were according to Dudley to be far less sinister. Dudley’s account of the tomato gangs (so called because they would throw tomatoes at each other) quickly descended into extortion, drug dealing and murder. Any reluctance to abandon their ’honor’ quickly evaporated as the promise of enormous wealth from drug sales supplanted it. 

I have to admit to harboring conflicting feelings about the book. I felt very enthusiastic to receive a copy for review and couldn’t wait to begin reading it. Immediately I began questioning my wisdom. At first it appeared that the author was acting an apologist for the criminal activities of the central characters, Norman, and Alex Sanchez. Then later when Dudley seemed to repeated express sympathy for the victim-hood of the characters.   

As the book progressed the tone changed and the author seemed to become more skeptical and less sympathetic as the murders, gang rapes, and violent assaults increased. 

Dudley did manifest through his writing style the sense of unity and camaraderie shared by the informal social party group that MS-13 seemed to be. The gang was as much a social club than it was an organization like the Cosa Nostra. 

I found the narratives constant transition between the United States and El Salvador left one feeling disorientated and confused. This combined with a plethora of minor players many of whom are known only by aliases only added to the scale of the confusion. There is a lack of structure and because of this there is an inability to keep track of characters, let alone empathize with them at any level. Ultimately, the breadth and scale were too board for easy navigation. 

CONCLUSION

MS-13 is extensively researched, but lacks punch; which is ironic in a work so filled with violence. It felt overly verbose, too subjective, overly long and biased at times. I found myself checking my watch while I read it, never a good sign in any situation. Despite this, I believe that if you are interested in knowing more about South American gang culture in the United States it is worth your time. 

When the end came, it was something of a disappointment, almost as an afterthought. Perhaps if the extensive El Salvadorian context had been a little less lengthy there may have been more room for an appropriate conclusion. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Stephen Dudley, NetGalley and Hanover Square Press for affording me the opportunity to review MS-13: The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang.

OTHER PUBLICATIONS BY THIS AUTHOR

BE THE BUFFALO, BY STEPHEN DUDLEY IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE TO READ FOR FOR FREE ON KindleUnlimited

The Organ Thieves – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

IN MEMORIAM OF
BRUCE TUCKER
DECLARED DEAD ON SATURDAY MAY 25, 1968 AT 3:33 PM

Still waiting for an apology that will never come.
R.I.P.

TitleThe Organ Thieves: The Shocking Story of the
First Heart Transplant in the Segregated South
AuthorChip Jones
PublisherGallery/Jeter Publishing (August 18, 2020)
FormatKindle, Hardcover, Audiobook, Audio CD
Pages400
Language:English
ISBN 10/131982107529 / 978-1982107529

Imagine ‘House’ meets ‘A Few Good Men.’

AUTHOR

Chip Jones is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist. You can learn more about this author here or visit his Facebook page here.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE?

The Organ Thieves has broad appeal. Everyone from medical students to senior professors and laymen alike will enjoy this work. Students of history, ethics, research fellows or anyone who wants to know more about the early history of heart transplants in the United States will find this book invaluable.

SYNOPSIS

The Organ Thieves is a compassionate retelling of events that introduced a new and highly anticipated advance in medical science. It’s a real-life drama of a radical new cutting-edge medical procedure, involving esteemed surgeons and a seemingly inebriated, impecunious victim of an accident. The apparent theft of the heart and two kidneys from a decent hardworking man, eventually resulting in a $1,000,000 lawsuit.

The subsequent trial spans the whole gamut of questions relating to ethics, motivations, incompetence and a questionable disregard for state law and patients care. The trial covered poor medical administrative practices, prejudice and ethical questions that still plague modern medical ethicists. All this set against the contextual history of medical research set in the segregated South. From the dark days of slavery and the Devil’s Half Acre, to the ‘demonstrators’ and the ‘resurrection-men’ of pre 1884, through to the mid 1990s.

CONCLUSION

The Organ Thieves is well-paced throughout, resplendent with historic detail, clear and concise prose that make for a work that is difficult to put down. I read the last 4 hours in one sitting and I was more enthusiastic in my praise and admiration with each passing chapter.

My only criticism is, I felt at times, there was an understandable bias exhibited by the author. Rather than simply presenting the facts, thus leaving the reader to make their own independent assessment, I sensed he was assessing the historic interactions by todays values.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Chip Jones, NetGalley, and Gallery/Jeter Publishing for affording me the opportunity to review The Organ Thieves: The Shocking Story of the First Heart Transplant in the Segregated South.

BLOODY LONDON – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleBloody London
AuthorDavid Fathers
PublisherConway; 1 edition (April 2, 2020)
Format Kindle, Paperback
Page128
LanguageEnglish
ASIN #B0851GK1XX

AUTHOR

David Fathers is the author of Bloody London and several other publications on Great Britain’s capital city. You can find more about him here: https://londonist.com/london/uncategorized/david-fathers

Who is the target audience?

Those who want a crime magazine experience may consider this title.

SYNOPSIS

Bloody London is sort of a travel-log of London locations where true crimes took place. Included are suggested routes to aid the reader on any self guided tour.

I was excited to get a copy of Bloody London, by David Fathers and when the opportunity arose, I jumped at it. What started as anticipation filled joy quickly turned into a serious disappointment. It’s instantly apparent that the books concept was poorly executed. The illustrations were ill matched to the body of the text. The maps were less than useless. In addition, the narrative was simple to the point of being insulting to the reader. Rather than a roundly described crime with context and characters, almost all the crimes were a sentence or two long. It’s frustrating how little information there was to get my teeth into. This lack of substance continued for page after page and quickly became tedious.

I rarely receive my favorite type of subject – true crime. Writing about true crime is a time consuming task due to the twists and turns of the average investigation. Books on this subject require long and arduous research, extensive lists of citations, endnotes, and a bibliography. Fact checking an actual investigation or story is an essential prerequisite. Bloody London by David Fathers was found wanting.

CONCLUSION

Bloody London did not live up to my expectations. The book felt as though it had been cut and pasted rather than being well researched and thought through. The whole work felt weak, as though it was not even first draft ready. Usually when an author reference a specific item used in an actual crime or a location they will include photographs. This work used cartoon drawings. Overall, I felt there was potential had the author done his own research rather than relying on the limited list in his bibliography. I wanted this book to be great, but sadly I was disappointed. I sincerely hope that the author or the publisher consider a rewrite prior to public release.

My recommendation is: if you want a compelling read on London’s crime locations read Bloody London: Shocking Tales from London’s Gruesome Past and Present, by Declan McHugh.

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank David Fathers, NetGalley, and Conway for affording me the opportunity to review Bloody London.