True Crime

Book Review: Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures

Author
Wittman, Robert K.
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

Are you a fan of true crime novels? Do you just love the excitement, the suspense of solving mysteries? Or do you like art and the masters like Leonardo de Vinci? This book is for you. Well on the outside this book might just seem like another true crime story it is really different. I always liked crime novels and tv shows and I was and still am interested in the work organizations like the FBI do to prevent crime. This book has a different approach to your classic true crime novel by not just focusing on how the FBI solves murders but by focusing on how one man (the author) went undercover in the FBI to help recover some of the world's most famous stolen art pieces. It centers around his life and shows other things than just his cases, like how he was suspected of killing his friend. It also tells the story of how he founded the FBI's Art Crime Team. Well this book may not be for everyone if you like a good true crime book this book may work for you. It is slow in parts but makes up for that by telling stories that seem absurd to realize actually happened.

Reviewer's Name
Emily

Book Review: My Sweet Angel

Author
Glatt, John
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

John Glatt does a great job in laying out this heinous murder, based on a true story. Managing to lay out a timeline with both moves and medical complications, Glatt exposes a mother who went to great lengths to do everything she could to create publicity for her sick son. The photos in the middle of the book, as heartbreaking as they are, make a much heavier impact if you wait until you've completed the book to look at them.

Reviewer's Name
Nicole E.

Book Review: The Lost Girls

Author
Glatt, John
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

John Glatt is a very skilled investigative journalist and author. This book describes in chilling words the recall of "missing" girls in a small town and the murderer who tries to help "find" them along the way. As usual, Glatt's thorough research exposes the situation in depth. His delicate use of imagery gives all of the information you need to visualize his crimes without being a huge trigger for those with PTSD.

Reviewer's Name
Nicole E.

Book Review: Gone at Midnight: The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam

Author
Anderson, Jake
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

Gone at Midnight is a nonfiction crime book about the mysterious and brutal murder of Elisa Lam. Elisa Lam was a college student from Canada who came to visit Cecil Hotel but went missing. The Cecil Hotel is notorious for having a chilling haunted past. After a week or so Elisa Lam is found dead and an investigation is kicked off. The author goes in depth about how this investigation was messed up and didn't follow the proper procedures. I liked the suspense of the book and learning about how many people on the internet were also trying to solve the case. Finally, the author goes into detail about how this tragic event greatly impacted Elisa's family and on future investigations.

Reviewer's Name
Ananth

Book Review: BlacKkKlansman

Author
Stallworth, Ron
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

As someone who lives in Colorado Springs and calls this town my home, I was intrigued by Ron Stalworth's story after watching the 2018 Spike Lee movie based on the undercover investigation into the local Ku Klux Klan. Sure, I didn’t live in the Springs during the period covered in this book, but I did have enough understanding of the town to know the locations referenced throughout. To think that I live close to some of the areas that could have been affected by cross burnings or other Klan events is a little eerie to me, mostly because it’s something I rarely think about.

For those who have seen the movie first, this book covers everything that made it to the big screen but also adds some details about other events not directly linked to the Klan (but were still relevant to the discussion of race in the area). I’ll admit that Colorado Springs is pretty white when it comes right down to it. However, there’s still plenty of diversity in this town due to the large military population that occupies Colorado Springs’ five military installations. I know some residents were offended that such a story about the Springs could exist, but the book puts quite a bit of it into perspective (the Klan only had a few dozen people in town).

Admittedly, this book was more of an eye-opener to how the Klan evolved from the violent organization from the reconstruction era of the Civil War to the "political” party that it is today. Sure, they are trying to make the focus more on racial segregation than straight-up genocide like they used to endorse, but it really comes down to old thinking in a new world. It’s like mixing different colors of Play-do: once they’re mixed together, they aren’t going to separate back out to the individual colors.

An eye-opening look into the evolution of the Klan, I give BlacKkKlansman 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The 57 Bus

Author
Slater, Dashka
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The book, The 57 Bus, by Dashka Slater, is quite the moving novel. The author does a great job of solidifying the main characters, Sasha and Richard, and develops there characters in a beautifully realistic way. The sudden transition for just normal everyday life to a calamity also flows well with the book. The fact that this story actually happens is also very interesting. Overall, The 57 Bus is a fantastic book and I would recommend it to anyone. The novel is a decent length but will have you engrossed in it until the end.

Reviewer's Name
Steven L

Book Review: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Author
Berendt, John
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

A word of warning: This book contains discriminatory and vulgar language, including the N-word and other severe cusses. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil follows a quirky, discombobulated town. The residents are an amalgam of a depressed inventor who's secret poison could kill the entire city, a drag queen who dances exotically and drops bombs of dirtiness, a wealthy and closeted gay antiques dealer who loves to corrupt social norms, and a voodoo priestess who sneaks into graveyards at midnight, among other deranged, hilarious, and nonconforming people. This town is so dysfunctional and dark that it functions. The first half of the book was devoted to charting and describing the mysterious lives of the residents of Savannah, Georgia. The second half followed the conviction and multiple trials of one particular resident after he 'murdered' someone else. However, I would encourage you to read the Author's Note at the end, but only after you finish the book. It left me dazed for days at the major plot twist snuck at the very end.

Reviewer's Name
Jordan T.

Book Review: The Innocent Man

Author
Grisham, John
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

A harrowing story of murder, deception, lies, and the struggle of a broken man to gain his life back, The Innocent Man is an incredible novel.
It's exemplary qualities are highlighted because everything in the book happens to be true. The story follows the tale of Ron Williamson, a baseball prodigy who, after his life begins to fall apart after he loses a career with the Yankees, is wrongly accused of a murder. It then describes his experiences in prison and the things he had to do to prove his innocence.
John Grisham's attention to detail and research is impeccable and top-notch, and the book is riveting for it. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes nonfiction novels, or anyone who likes murder mysteries.

Reviewer's Name
Peter C

Book Review: The Devil In The White City

Author
Larson, Erik
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The Chicago World’s fair, also known as The World’s Columbian Exposition, was a world’s fair held in Chicago in 1893 meant to counter France’s world fair and give Chicago back its fame, and even though it was not yet completed when opened, it proved to be a phenomenal success. The Devil in the White City follows the life and story of two interesting men:
Daniel Hudson Burnham and H.H. Holmes. Burnham is the famous architect who directed the construction of the fair and Holmes was a psychotic, but genius and seductive, serial killer who used the World’s fair to lure his victims, almost always women, to their death. Although their lives different, their stories and accomplishments are intertwined and connected, which Larson seeks to condense. With a meager three years to build the fair, and setbacks such as the death of his partner, weather, and health issues, Burnham struggles to finish the fair on time, more or less make it better than France’s.
Meanwhile, Holmes uses his persuading words and charms to commit fraud, acquire debts he never plans to pay back, and worst of all be able to kill and dispose of human bodies with ease. Burnham’s and Holme’s stories never connect in the beginning, and they never meet each other, but as Larson explores the events of 1890-1893, the connection between them becomes clear.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name
Joe T.

Book Review: In Cold Blood

Author
Capote, Truman
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Holcomb, Kansas 1959, the Clutter family was brutally murdered and no one knew who or why they did it. Truman Capote wrote this book as a novel, with dialogue between the murderers and the family; although he was not there, he gathered as much information about the murder as possible and was able to turn it into a book instead of a document. Moving on, the story follows the life of the Clutter family before and after they were murdered, however it focuses more on Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, the murderers of the Clutters. In need of cash, and fast, Hickock calls his old jail friend Perry Smith and they decide to execute a robbery of the Clutter family, who they thought were rich. After invading the house and finding no cash, they dispose of the Clutters, rid of the clues, and escape the law for as long as they could. I love this book since it enables the reader to have a mystery going on in their head and also because murder was uncommon back in 1959, so it enables the reader to feel how it was to hear of a major crime, such as this, back then. I recommend this book to every reader out there, it was very well written and one of the most amazing “New Journalism” type of books, as Capote said.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Joe T.