Category Archives: True Crime

Early Graves by Thomas H. Cook

In the early 80s Judith and Alvin Neelley went on a vicious killing spree. This book details all the things they did, the investigation and narrowing net around them, and Judith’s trial for one of the murders. It is well-written and quite a fascinating story. I highly recommend this book to true crime fans!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 25
Pages Read in 2017: 7429
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Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (E in AMETHYST)

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True Stories from the Files of the FBI by W. Cleon Skousen

True Stories from the Files of the FBI by W. Cleon Skousen covers a few of the most high-profile cases the FBI solved in the 1930s. Chapters include an introduction to the early FBI (and before it was officially the FBI – the Bureau of Investigation), Kinnie Wagner, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, the Kansas City Massacre, the Barker-Karpis gang, Dillinger, and “Baby Face” Nelson. As we lament the crime of today, we often forget that the gangsters kept law enforcement busy several decades ago with their crime sprees. Books like this one help us remember that past. Told with the somewhat cold detachment of an FBI agent, the stories are interesting, but have lots of names and details which are sometimes hard to keep straight. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the FBI or and those who enjoy reading true crime stories.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2016: 13
Pages Read in 2016: 3541
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Prescription: Murder! Volume 2 by Alan Hynd

Prescription: Murder! Volume 2 is a collection of true crime short stories that occurred in the late 1800s to early 1900s. The first three are about doctors who committed murder. The first two killed their wives while the third attempted to take out the majority of his wife’s extended family. The fourth story is about a masochist who married several women and killed some of them for insurance money. The final story is about the mobster Pretty Louis Amberg. The stories are extremely engaging. A must-read for anyone who enjoys true crime.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 124
Pages Read in 2015: 36,759
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The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale tells the story of the murder of three-year-old Saville Kent in 1860. In the process it sort of tells the story of Mr. Whicher, one of the first English detectives, as well as the stories of many of those in the Kent family and servants working for the Kents at the time. The problem is it is written in a very random and confused manner going back and forth in time and interspersing facts with quotes from books and information about fictional detectives. That was weird. It was an okay book and did an excellent job of telling the facts of the murder itself, but otherwise it often was quite boring and went on and on about things that really were not important.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2014: 21
Pages Read in 2014: 4918
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The Westies by T.J. English

The term mobsters conjures up in my mind an image of the 1920s and speakeasies and Al Capone. The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob by T.J. English is the story of more recent mobsters, an Irish gang from the Hell’s Kitchen part of Manhattan in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, known as the Westies (because they were on the west side). I vaguely remember headlines in the late 80s proclaiming that violence in New York City was going down and some of that was directly attributable to the takedown of the Westies (as well as a gang of Italian mobsters nearby).

There were things I really liked about The Westies. The killings were told in a very straightforward manner without too much gore (some gore was inevitable since many killings were downright vicious). The author chose to loosely follow one specific man throughout and you know right from the start that he had turned on his friends and was working with authorities which gave it a nice continuity flow even when the timeline was strange. The end included a sum up of what happened to the major players, both mobsters and police/lawyers, which I always like.

On the other hand, there were also things I didn’t like about this book. I didn’t like some of the language. I totally expect bad language when conversations are recounted, however the author would be going along fine and then suddenly there’d be a random f-word or s-word that was truly unnecessary. The timeline was a bit confusing sometimes, particularly in the first half of the book. We’d be going along reading about something that happened in 1975 and then, bam, 1966. The biggest problem I had with the book, however, is that sometimes it just dragged on and on and got rather boring. Many parts were quite fascinating and kept my attention, but those other parts quite literally put me to sleep.

Overall, The Westies is a good book, and one that is unexpectedly also about redemption and the ability to rise above a life of crime. It’s not the best book out there, but it’s certainly not the worst either. Anyone who likes to read true crime or stories about the old-time mobsters would likely enjoy this book.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Book Number: 6
Pages Read: 1523
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