r.j. parker

Review of ‘Abduction: The Minivan Murders’

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Abduction: The Minivan Murders by R.J. Parker is the true story of James Daveggio and Michelle Michaud, a couple of meth-heads who kidnapped and sexually assaulted a number of young women from Sacramento, California to Reno, Nevada, even killing one and dumping her body.

A chilling story of serial rapists and murderers, the book fails, however, to live up to the hype or the cover. There is too much repetition, going over points repeatedly that could well be addressed once and done—and a lot of it is devoted to the killing spree of two other serial rapist-killers, who apparently were the motivation for Daveggio and Michaud.

An interesting book, that with less repetition, and without the hype—for example, the two were only convicted of one murder, and while they might, if not caught, have killed others, there is no evidence that they killed more than the one for whose death they were convicted.

I give this one three stars. Interesting subject, just not as well executed as I would expect from this author.

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Review of ‘Blood Money: The Method and Madness of Assassins’

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In the comfort of our suburban homes, probably the last thing on our minds is the danger that we might become the target of a contract killer. These low-level thugs who kill for money, though, are more common than the average person realizes. In Blood Money: The Method and Madness of Assassins, author R. J. Parker examines the history of assassins, and how they’ve worked through the centuries. He traces the use of murder-for-hire from biblical times to the present day, with historical profiles of some of the most prolific assassins.

A book that will chill you—as he points out that a significant number of contract murders are arranged by people for revenge or money rather than being related to organized crime—and, hopefully, educate you to the reality of the world in which we live.

Repetitive in places, the prose is a bit choppy, but, the subject is handled with a researcher’s skill. Of particular interest is the author’s analysis of how popular media, TV and movies, portrays professional assassins, and how far the portrayals are from reality.

If you have a strong stomach, but and inquiring mind, it’s a worthwhile read. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Forensic Analysis and DNA in Criminal Investigations’

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Fans of the CSI TV series and other popular cop shows probably think that forensic analysis of crime scenes is something new, a 20th century innovation in police work. In fact, examining trace evidence dates back to the ancient Greeks and Chinese. It was only with the discovery of DNA that police forensic work became as pervasive, and sometimes accurate tool for solving crimes, or proving innocence.

Forensic Analysis and DNA in Criminal Investigations by R. J. Parker and Pete Vronsky is an examination of forensics, with extensive chapters on the ancient history of criminal investigation. Most of the book, though, focuses on the use of DNA to catch the guilty and free the innocent. The authors trace forensics from its ancient roots, looking at methods that were groundbreaking, and some that were tantamount to torture, moving to the current era and the use of DNA in crime scene forensics. In addition to pointing out its value, they also discuss failures.

Several sections are devoted to cold cases, some solved through analysis of DNA trace evidence. This is a fascinating book for anyone interested in studying criminal cases, or for understanding how criminal investigations are conducted. Technical terms are explained in laymen’s terms. I assure you that you’ll come away from reading this book with a better understanding of how crimes are investigated—and, it’s not like on TV.

I give this book four stars.

Review of ‘Social Media Monsters: True Stories of Internet Killers’

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Social Media Monsters: True Stories of Internet Killers by R. J. Parker and J. J. Slate is a compendium of 33 stories about monsters who use the Internet to locate, lure, stalk, and exploit their victims. Many of these stories are about serial killers who have been with us for a long time, but who are now able to use the efficiency of social media sites and chat rooms to lure their victims to their deaths. The book also includes sections on how law enforcement is now using the Internet in their effort to solve, and even prevent, criminal activity, and a useful section on effective ways to protect yourself when using the Internet.

A compelling read that exposes an area of criminality that knows no boundaries, and which no one is safe from. After reading this book, you’ll think twice about accepting that ‘Friend’ request from a stranger. Must-reading for anyone who uses the Internet.

This is an easy five-star book.