true crime

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.

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 ‘True Crime’

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Private investigators Sean Hayes and Ashley Reid are hired to investigate the case of a girl who went missing 15 years earlier. At the same time, Sean is tasked with helping the NYPD investigate a woman’s murder. Splitting the cases up, these two intrepid, and somewhat mismatched, sleuths, follow false clues, dead ends, and threats to see that justice is done. True Crime by V.N. Sharma is a well-plotted mystery with touches of humor and action that will test the wits of any mystery fan, but, unfortunately, the stilted language and grammar problems can intrude and interfere with the necessary suspension of disbelief.

I liked the plot and characters, but the use of language makes it impossible for me to give it more than three stars.

Review of ‘2015 Serial Killer True Crime Anthology’

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Murder has been with humanity from the beginning, and since the 1888 Jack the Ripper case, we’ve been fascinated with serial killers. People who kill repeatedly, often for inexplicable reasons, seem to tap into some emotional well we humans possess.

2015 Serial Killer True Crime Anthology by R. J. Parker and five other true crime writers really taps that well deeply. Graphical accounts of serial murder cases, including the Babysitter, or Oakland County Child Killer (OCCK), a case that has yet to be solved, among others, that read like fiction, will keep you on the edge of your chair. Some of the best true crime writing I’ve seen, this book is not for the sensitive or squeamish. It includes details that will have you looking askance at your neighbor, or spouse, and sleeping with one eye open. Fourteen first-rate stories penned by some of the best in the business.

A total five star book!