True Crime

Book Review: Sole Survivor

Sole Survivor: The Inspiring True Story of Coming Face to Face with the Infamous Railroad KillerSole Survivor: The Inspiring True Story of Coming Face to Face with the Infamous Railroad Killer by Holly Dunn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We continue our true crime streak today.

I first came across Holly Dunn’s story a few years ago on an episode of 48 Hours. I was floored by her resilience then and when I saw she was writing a book to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her survival, I knew I had to read it.

Dunn is the sole survivor of a terrible serial killer known as the Railroad Killer. Angel Maturino Resendiz is suspected of killed 23 people across the United States and Mexico over a 20 year period. Through luck and quick thinking Dunn was able to live through her terrible encounter with the Railroad Killer and she’s gone on to help countless survivors of rape and violence.

While Dunn’s story is incredible and moving, the book was a bit long and more conversational in tone than well written. Some have complained the book glosses over the aftermath of the attack, which is true. If you wanted a book solely focused on the crime, this is not for you. This book is about Dunn’s recovery, her faith in God, and her life now. There is a heavy religious element to this book and readers need to be aware that there is some witnessing happening.

Overall it was not a bad book. Holly Dunn is an inspiration and a powerful survivor and that is worth more than anything.

Advertisements

Book Review: Sleep, My Child, Forever

Sleep, My Child, Forever: The Riveting True Story of a Mother Who Murdered Her Own ChildrenSleep, My Child, Forever: The Riveting True Story of a Mother Who Murdered Her Own Children by John Coston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

True crime at its most chilling.

I was intrigued by John Coston’s tale of Ellen Boehm since I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where the sordid tale is located. I was very young during the series of events so I only vaguely recalled the story of a mother who slaughtered her children in cold blood. Being a true crime fanatic, I grabbed a copy of this book during an Amazon sale.

Ellen Boehm and her husband Paul came from a long line of abuse. When they met and eventually married, they had dreams of the perfect life together — the house, the children. What happened what much, much different. After meeting a new woman, Paul abandoned his wife and three children, leaving them to fend for themselves with little money and no support. Ellen quickly lost her home and took on extra work when she could in an effort to make ends meet. It still wasn’t enough and soon the woman was overwhelmed with her own fantasy world and three children standing in the way of her wonderful life.

What unfolds next is something of horror stories. Ellen kills her two youngest children within a year and attempts to murder her eldest daughter. By a stroke of luck, her daughter survives unscathed but life will never be the same. Ellen tries to reap the death benefits following the murder of her sons but underestimates the tenacity of the St. Louis Police Department.

Sleep, My Child, Forever is a tale of true monsters. Not the ones that live in closets and under the beds of children, but the ones that we see everyday and never suspect.

Book Review: Silent Witness

Silent Witnesses: The Often Gruesome But Always Fascinating History of Forensic ScienceSilent Witnesses: The Often Gruesome But Always Fascinating History of Forensic Science by Nigel McCrery

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have a thing for true crime and a passion for history and Nigel McCrery delivered on both fronts with his book Silent Witnesses. McCrery’s book takes an interesting look at the history of forensic science in crime scene investigation. It’s a nasty business but the book outlines just how far the science has come throughout the past century.

Each chapter covers a different part of forensic science and traces the path of discovery throughout the ages. Starting with identity and ending with the study of DNA, McCrery discusses what detectives relied on before the advances and the major cases leading to the discover and use of certain techniques. The paperback version also includes some fantastic color photos to accompany each of the chapters explaining the techniques and cases highlighted.

This one is not for the faint of heart. It’s gory and intense. McCrery discusses some very nasty and cold-hearted murder cases that might upset some readers. For those interested in true crime and scientific history, this one is for you!

Book Review: The Royal Art of Poison

The Royal Art of Poison: Filthy Palaces, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, and Murder Most FoulThe Royal Art of Poison: Filthy Palaces, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, and Murder Most Foul by Eleanor Herman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who doesn’t love a good murder mystery set in the beauty and wonder of the Renaissance?

The Royal Art of Poison was disgusting, horrifying, creepy, nasty, and just plain delightful! Full disclosure: I’m a history nerd and a true crime geek (who knew, right?!) and this book fed my love of both. Eleanor Herman starts off with a brief history of poison and there was a lot of it in ancient times. Not just poisons like deadly nightshade but common household items, like makeup and even medicine, with full of arsenic and mercury! Not only was poison a common fear, but the sanitation levels were dismal. If it wasn’t the disease killing you, it was the mercury enemas.

Following the history lesson, each chapter tells the tale of a different historical figure who died under mysterious circumstances. Herman presents the reader with a case study for each, telling the reader about the person’s marriage, the times in which they lived, and the symptoms they presented with prior to their death. Then the reader is left to ponder, did the person die because of poison or were they just unlucky? Never fear, the reader isn’t left hanging! Herman then presents the formal diagnosis along with medical records (if there are any) and the fallout in the event of an actual poisoning.

Eleanor Herman is an historian by training making her books well-researched tales complimented by her vast knowledge. Nonfiction books have the potential to be wordy and difficult to read but Herman’s books are easy to digest, even when the subject matter isn’t. A must read for any history nerd, lover of the macabre, or true crime buff.