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The circumstances were almost always the same. A small town and a house that wasn't far from railroad tracks. The dead of night when the family was asleep. An axe. Afterwards, the bodies were covered, the curtains were all drawn, and the home was locked up tight. No one ever survived. It was years before authorities realized that they were dealing with one of the most prolific and savage serial killers in the country's history. This is a story that may rattle even the most hardened consumer of true crime books. You have been warned! ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
In an unnamed country at an unmentioned time, a young woman struggles with life in a rigid sectarian society where even an emblem on a foreign car can bring down the wrath of the state upon the owner. This is a fiercely original book, darkly reminiscent of Orwell and Swift. Its complexity may be challenging at times, but the author, through the unfiltered thoughts and observations of her central character, provides some hope to the reader than an undaunted spirit can never be completely conquered by time, place, or circumstance. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
One of the enduring mysteries in the annals of American crime is what happened on a hot August morning in 1892 on a busy residential street in Fall River, Massachusetts. The gruesome axe murders of Andrew Borden, a prominent local businessman, and his wife, Abby, have been the subject of debate for over a century. Paring away layers of myth and speculation, this is a meticulous examination of the incarceration and trial of Borden's younger daughter, Lizzie, whose high style and impenetrable demeanor generated a media frenzy that, guilt or innocence aside, ushered her firmly into the realm of legend. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
One year after Jo Ann Parks lost her three children when fire engulfed the family's tiny apartment, she was arrested for murder. Many of the findings by investigators that were used to send Mrs. Parks to prison for the rest of her life were rooted in largely discredited theories that attempted to define the quixotic nature of fire. Established authorities were reluctant to accept the new scientifically-based findings, especially those concerning a phenomenon called flashover, and their recalcitrance virtually condemned many people to long terms behind bars. This involving book by a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist is as much about the constantly evolving science of fire detection as it is about a terrible tragedy and a potentially devastating miscarriage of justice. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
Nearly half a century before prostitutes began encountering an infamous serial killer in the Whitechapel district of the city, another murder galvanized the city of London. The victim was Lord William Russell, a prominent member of a social class that regarded murder among their ranks as more of a personal affront than a brutal crime. Pundits were quick to point out that Lord Russell's gruesome demise was probably inspired by the proliferation of popular novels that, at least in the minds of a titillated public, glorified such depravity. Much to his displeasure, Charles Dickens was included among the inflammatory cadre of authors. This book is both a compelling murder mystery and an insightful look at the impact of popular culture on public behavior.