Tag: true crime

Bookstr’s Three To Read This Week 03/13

Welcome back, book lovers! These are some scary times, with what seems like every major city taking drastic steps to limit the spread of a certain novel virus. Take some time out from the panic and take a look at our Three to Read. After all, with schools closing and people working from home, the books on our TBR lists finally have a shot at getting read! Settle down, brew a tea, and let’s get into it.

 

hot pick

The body politic

by Brian Platzer

The Body Politic: A Novel by [Platzer, Brian]

Synopsis:

New York City is still regaining its balance in the years following 9/11, when four twenty-somethings—Tess, Tazio, David, and Angelica—meet in a bar, each yearning for something: connection, recognition, a place in the world, a cause to believe in. Nearly fifteen years later, as their city recalibrates in the wake of the 2016 election, their bond has endured—but almost everything else has changed.

As freshmen at Cooper Union, Tess and Tazio were the ambitious, talented future of the art world—but by thirty-six, Tess is married to David, the mother of two young boys, and working as an understudy on Broadway. Kind and steady, David is everything Tess lacked in her own childhood—but a recent freak accident has left him with befuddling symptoms, and she’s still adjusting to her new role as caretaker.

Meanwhile, Tazio—who once had a knack for earning the kind of attention that Cooper Union students long for—has left the art world for a career in creative branding and politics. But in December 2016, fresh off the astonishing loss of his candidate, Tazio is adrift, and not even his gorgeous and accomplished fiancée, Angelica, seems able to get through to him. With tensions rising on the national stage, the four friends are forced to face the reality of their shared histories, especially a long-ago betrayal that has shaped every aspect of their friendship.

Why?

With the backdrop of societal uncertainty and political tyranny, this novel switches point of view periodically, introducing us to the inner workings of both the mind and human relationships. The novel has been praised for how it honestly – and brutally – hones in on the American political climate, which is particularly relevant in light of this year’s presidential race. It captures exactly how people felt during the trying times following two major events in history. The novel shows us just how linked our physical and emotional selves are to our political body. It is as insightful as it is truthful, and likely to resonate with a lot of readers, American or otherwise. 

“Brian Platzer has done something marvelous — transmuted the queasy early years of the Trump presidency into a novel that’s a delight to read. The Body Politic is a book about many things — what it means to be unwell, what it means to heal, how deep and strange friendships can be, and how hidden things never stay hidden for long. I was grateful for its engaging, empathetic company during these fractious times.” —Rachel Monroe, author of Savage Appetites

 

COFFEE SHOP READ

american animals 

by Eric Borsuk

American Animals: A True Crime Memoir by [Borsuk, Eric]

Synopsis:

American Animals is a coming-of-age crime memoir centered around three childhood friends: Warren, Spencer, and Eric. Disillusioned with freshman year of college, and determined to escape from their mundane Middle-American existences, the three hatch a plan to steal millions of dollars’ worth of artwork and rare manuscripts from a university museum. The story that unfolds is a gripping adventure of teenage rebellion, from page-turning meetings with black-market art dealers in Amsterdam, to the opulent galleries of Christie’s auction house in Rockefeller Center. American Animals ushers the reader along a gut-wrenching ride of adolescent self-destruction, providing a front-row seat to the inception, planning, and execution of the heist, while offering a rare glimpse into the evolution of a crime—all narrated by one of the perpetrators in a darkly comic, action-packed, true-crime caper.

Why?

This memoir is fascinating, largely due to its completely true story. Little imagination is needed to see the story, when you can watch the film of the same name, and digest the media coverage of the case itself. American Animals takes the age-old story of young rebellion and a search for more, and turns it on its head. Borsuk’s writing is darkly comedic and bizarre, sure to keep you hooked. Plus, the novel rings in at a concise 147 pages, making it quickly digestible. You’ll be racing to the end.

“American Animals is a book unlike any I’ve ever read. The twist and turns and audacity can lend themselves to incredulity, but at the heart of this book is a humanness that even those shaking their heads the most will have to recognize. Eric Borsuk’s work here is as daring as any heist.”– Jared Yates Sexton, author of The People Are Going To Rise Like The Waters Upon Your Shore: A Story of American Rage. 

 

dark horse

you let me in

by Camilla Bruce

You Let Me In by [Bruce, Camilla]

Synopsis:

Cassandra Tipp is dead…or is she?

After all, the notorious recluse and eccentric bestselling novelist has always been prone to flights of fancy—everyone in town remembers the shocking events leading up to Cassie’s infamous trial (she may have been acquitted, but the insanity defense only stretches so far).

Cassandra Tipp has left behind no body—just her massive fortune, and one final manuscript.

Then again, there are enough bodies in her past—her husband Tommy Tipp, whose mysterious disembowelment has never been solved, and a few years later, the shocking murder-suicide of her father and brother.

Cassandra Tipp will tell you a story—but it will come with a terrible price. What really happened, out there in the woods—and who has Cassie been protecting all along? Read on, if you dare…

Why?

This novel is a genre-bending mix of fairytale/folklore and mystery. It is frightening and thrilling all at once. Perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson, the story is unsettling and, at times, horrifying. It is a dark family drama that just so happens to have its fair share of evil faeries. You’ll be left guessing throughout the novel, making up your own assumptions, just to have them dashed at the next turn. The story is fast-paced and the fantasy elements set it apart from many other novels under the dark mystery umbrella. One thing is for sure, this is no bedtime story.

You Let Me In is a bewitching, beguiling, and deeply unsettling tale of one woman’s strange life. It will ensnare you from page one and keep you riveted until the end.” ―Caitlin Starling, author of The Luminous Dead.

all images via amazon, bookstr

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5 Authors Who Were Also Murderers

Just because you wrote a good book doesn’t mean you haven’t killed someone. In fact, just because you haven’t written a good book doesn’t mean you haven’t killed someone. Heck, you could not write a book, not intend to write a book, and still kill someone. But that’s not what this site is about. This site is about books, and occasionally the worlds of literature and murder overlap. Here are five authors who murdered someone.

 

5. William S. Burroughs

 

As the story goes, he didn’t mean to kill her, but he did. A key member of the Beat Generation, William S. Burroughs appears in Jack Kerouac’s breakout 1957 novel On The Road. Written on one long scroll of paper so he didn’t have to change pages on his typewriter, Jack Kerouac wrote this iconic piece of literature in three weeks in April of 1951, fueled by coffee. William S. Burroughs was the inspiration behind On The Road‘s character of Old Bull Lee.

William S Burroughs sitting at his type writer, hands folded in lap, looking at camera.

IMAGE VIA FAMOUS AUTHORS

William S. Burroughs had his own writing career long before On The Road was published. In fact, his first novel, Junkie, was released in 1953, a first-person narrative about a man struggling with heroin addiction. This novel was published initially under the pseudonym William Lee.

 

Book cover for William Burrough's 'Junkie'

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

But let’s go back to 1951. While in Mexico City, Burroughs and his second wife, Joan Vollmer, were drunk while she was undergoing withdrawal from a heavy amphetamine habit. Drunk and a little high, they decided to play William Tell.

 

For those who don’t know, William Tell is a game in which one player shoots an apple off the top of another person’s head, usually with a crossbow. However, in this instance, Joan placed a highball glass on top of her head and William S. Burroughs used a pistol to attempt to shoot it off. Unfortunately, he missed.

 

William S. Borrough's wife, Joan

IMAGE VIA OPEN CULTURE

While awaiting trial, Burroughs wrote the novel Queer about a young man looking for Yage, a hallucinogen, in South America. At the end of his trial, Burroughs was given a two-year suspended sentence and in 1959 his magnum opus, Naked Lunch, was published.

 

William S. Burroughs holding a shot gun in a garden, looking at camera.

IMAGE VIA THE TOOLBOX

William Seward Burroughs II, post-modernist author and primary figure of the Beat Generation, died on August 2nd, 1997 at the age of eighty-three.

 

4. Anne Perry

 

Anne Perry with arms folded looks at camera, lightly smiling

IMAGE VIA PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE SPEAKERS BUREAU

Author of the Thomas Pitt detective series and the William Monk detective series, Anne Perry is an English author whose life story was the basis for Peter Jackson’s film Heavenly Creatures. Released in 1994, the film follows the 1954 Parker-Hulme murder case about two teenage friends, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, who eventually murdered Parker’s mother.

 

Parker was sixteen at the time, while Hulme was fifteen. According to The True Crime Library in Christchurch, New Zealand, the girls bludgeoned the woman to death with half a brick enclosed in an old stocking before running into town and claiming that Parker’s mother had fallen and hit her head.

 

Movie poster for Heavenly Creatures

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Their story fell apart upon closer inspection and the two were arrested. Too young for the death penalty, the girls each received five years in prison.

At the time of the film’s production and release, it was not known that upon her release from prison, Juliet Hulme had changed her name to Anne Perry.

After the film was released and Perry’s identity discovered, the New Zealand Herald claimed, “…Perry has told the London Times Saturday Magazine that although they were never lesbians the relationship was obsessive”.

On her website, Anne Perry writes, “I began the ‘Monk’ series in order to explore a different, darker character, and to raise questions about responsibility, particularly that of a person for acts he cannot remember. How much of a person’s identity is bound up in memory?”

 

3. Blake Leibel

Not everyone who authors graphic novels with shocking descriptions of murder is a murderer themselves, but this guy is.

Blake Leibel wearing glasses look at camera in black and white photograph

IMAGE VIA NATIONAL POST

In 2015 the graphic novel Syndrome was published, containing unsettling depictions of bloodletting and, straight from CBS Los Angeles, it transpires that Blake Leibel murdered his girlfriend and left her body “drained of all of her blood in a crime that a prosecutor said mirrored the script of a graphic novel he co-wrote.”

 

Blake Leibel and Iana Kasian

IMAGE VIA NATIONAL POST

The Los Angeles Times also notes that Leibel, “was expressionless. Dressed in a yellow jail shirt and blue scrubs, he uttered only one word, answering ‘yes’ when the judge asked if he would waive his appearance at an upcoming court hearing”.

He was convicted in June 2018.

 

Image Via Los Angeles Times

Before his graphic novel, he worked on 2008’s Spaceballs: The Animated Series, based on the 1987 film by Mel Brooks, as a creative consultant.

 

2. Liu Yongbiao

 

Liu Yongbiao standing next to statue with hand on his foot

IMAGE VIA FOR READING ADDICTS

Back in 2005, Chinese writer Liu Yongbiao broke onto the scene with his story collection, A Film, which won China’s highest provincial critical achievement: the Anhui Literature Prize. In 2010, his novel about a writer implicated in a wave of unsolved murders, The Guilty Secret, was published.

In 2013, he cemented his literary status when he was elected to the China Writers Association.

 

Image result for Liu Yongbiao crime author

Image Via All That’s Interesting

Backtrack to November 29th, 1995, when Liu and a friend, Wang Mouming, checked in a guesthouse. All That’s Interesting states that they had “the intention of robbing other guests” but “when the two were caught stealing by a guest, Wang and Liu are believed to have used clubs and hammers to kill the guest as well as the guesthouse’s two owners (an elderly couple) and their thirteen-year-old grandson in order to completely cover their tracks.”

Twenty-two years later, Shanghaiist reported that blood samples led investors to the fifty-three-year-old writer and the sixty-four-year-old legal consultant.

 

Liu Yongbiao in custody

IMAGE VIA SOCIAL NEWS DAILY

The NY Post states that Liu told the investigators who arrested him that, “I’ve been waiting for you all this time”.

 

1. Mark “Chopper” Read

Chopper with two guns crossed over his chest and two in his waistband

Image Via Pinterest

Have you read Mr. Read’s work? He wrote crime novels and several children’s books, one of which was called Hooky the Cripple: The Grim Tale of the Hunchback Who Triumphs, published in 2002 by Pluto Press and illustrated by Adam Cullen.

According to ABC News, Mark Read spent his early years robbing drug dealers before kidnapping and torturing members of the criminal underworld. Eventually, he was caught and charged with armed robbery, assault, and kidnapping. Perth Now reports that he spent only thirteen months outside of prison between the ages of thirty and thirty-eight. He also cut off his ears in prison.

Later in life, Mark Read found solace in writing.

 

Mark 'Chopper' Read with a cigar in his mouth and sunglasses on standing in front of a wall graffitied yellow and red

IMAGE VIA THE TELEGRAPH

In 1991 he wrote the story of his life Chopper, from the inside: The confessions of Mark Brandon Read and several other non-fiction books, but he has also dabbled in children’s literature.

 

Book cover for Hooky the Cripple featuring a hand holding a bloody knife

IMAGE VIA GOODREADS

There have been several attempts to ban Hooky the Cripple, but the movie based around his life, 2000’s Chopper starring Eric Bana, received critical praise upon its release.

Back in 2013, Read told the  New York Times, “Look, honestly, I haven’t killed that many people, probably about four or seven, depending on how you look at it.”

Featured Image Via kmuw.org

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Top Picks: Thrilling Top 5 Crime and Thriller Picks

Each week, Bookstr gives you a look at some of the best novels in a particular genre for your continued reading list.

Today, we’ll be recommending five of the most thriller and most exciting Crime and Thriller novels this side of the internet has to offer!

 

 

5-My Pet Serial Killer by Michael J Seidlinger

 

Michael J Seidlinger

Image Via MichaelJSeidlinger.com

 

You thought we forgot about this one, didn’t you? Well, it might not be January 15th, but that’t doesn’t matter. This book is a hoot whatever time of year it is.

Author of novels such as The Fun We’ve Had and The Strangest and social media editor at Electric Literature and publisher in chief of Civil Coping Mechanisms, an indie press specializing in innovative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, Seidlinger certainly knows his stuff and shows it off here.

 

My Pet Serial Killer by [Seidlinger, Michael J.]

Image Via Amazon

 

There’s no better way to summarize than the premise, so I’ll just quote Amazon and say, “Claire studies forensic science, Victor is the Gentleman Killer. Clair seduces Victor and keeps him in her apartment as her pet, her darkest secret”.

Kirkus Reivews writes that this book is “[a] stab at satire that’s certainly not for all tastes,” but we here at Bookstr think this book defies categorization. Funny, horrifying, fast, melodic, this book is, above all, a wild ride.

 

 

4-You Were Made For This by Michele Sacks

 

Michele Sacks
Image Via The Gloss Magazine

She brought us the wonderful short story collection Stone Baby (December 2017) and come June 19th she slipped her debut novel right past us, but thankfully we caught it just in time! What’s it about? I hear you ask. Well…

 

Merry, Sam, and Conor are the idyllic family unit that find the perfect place to live: a Swedish paradise. But when an old friend from Merry’s childhood, Frank, visits the family, she immediately has a connection with young Conor, Sam, even the neighbors.

Frank and Merry have known each other all their lives and are more like siblings than best friends. They are practically family, and family sometimes knows you better than you know yourself…

Kirkus Reivews writes that this book is “[h]ard to read but also bewitchingly hard to put down—a fitting contradiction in a novel that explores the corruption at the heart of beauty”. We here at Bookstr offer you a warning: the novel goes places you wouldn’t expect and when it gets there, you stomach might tell you stop reading but your eyes just can’t.

 

 

 

3-Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

 

Chandler Baker

Image Via ChanlderBakerBooks

 

She’s written for young adults before, but now Baker is trying her hand in adult fiction and, yes, we hope she continues.

 

Whisper Network: A Novel by [Baker, Chandler]

Image Via Amazon

 

We got Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita. They’ve all worked at Truviv, Inc. for years, but when the company’s CEO finally dies that means that their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Ames has a different relationship with each of his workers, but he has a whispered reputation that have largely been ignored, swept under the rug, left to dissipate like smoke.

Then when Ames makes an inappropriate move on a colleague, these women aren’t going to let it go. Enough is enough, the time is now. But what comes of that?

Kirkus Reviews calls this July 2nd releases not only “[o]ver-the-top in all the right ways”, but also “[v]iciously funny and compulsively readable, Baker’s first adult novel is a feminist thriller for the #MeToo era”. What more do you need to know?

 

 

2-Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon

 

Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon

Image Via the Seminary Co-op Bookstores

 

In addition to authoring several books such as SolemnConception, and Upstate, Buckhanon has also made appearances on Investigation Discovery, BET, and TV One as a true crime expert in cases involving women. With her latest book, she puts her expertise to the test.

Back on a cold December evening, Autumn Spencer’s twin sister, Summer, walks onto the roof of their shared Harlem brownstone and is never seen again. The door to the roof is locked, and the snow holds only one set of footprints. A perplexing case, and the authorities aren’t interested in putting the effort required to find “another missing black woman”.

Thus, it’s up to Autumn to find her sister at all costs, even as her own mind starts to unravel.

Kirkus Reviews notes “the accurate portrayal of one woman’s struggles with mental health” and we here at Bookstr praise Buckhanon for her ability to balance both a thrilling chase while exploring issues of race, gender, violence, and the inner-self. The book came out July 30th, so there’s no excuse not to have read this book.

 

 

1-The Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelecanos

 

George Pelecanos

Image Via Entertainment Weekly

 

With more than 20 detective stories to his name, Pelecanos has made a name not only as a prolific author but as a writer in general. A frequent collaborator with David Simon, he’s written multiple episodes of Simon’s HBO series The Wire and Treme and has co-created the HBO series The Deuce.

Now he comes at us with a new book and, trust me, you won’t want to miss it.

 

The Man Who Came Uptown by [Pelecanos, George]

Image Via Amazon

 

Michael Hudson is the prison library’s book worm, always eager for more, until the day he’s released after it’s revealed a private detective manipulated a witness in his trial.

Once outside, Michael finds that Washington D.C. has changed a lot during his time in the brink. Lost and confused, trying to balance a new job and surrounded by those who thinks he’s guilty, Michael struggles to find his place in a world of temptations. Things only get worse when he’s confronted by the man who got him released, and his temptation for crime goes towards the extreme.

The Washington Post writes that:

So while much of this story is classic crime noir — Will Ornazian go too far? Will Hudson wind up busted and back behind bars? — I found myself also reading the book for the Proustian madeleines that Pelecanos serves us: the names of the novels so many of us loved over the years and what those tales mean to the man who came uptown.

Kirkus Reviews tells us that:

Using his customary knowing dialogue and stripped-down, soulful prose, Pelecanos skillfully, sensitively works the urban frontier where the problems and stresses of everyday life cross the line into the sort of criminal behavior that could tempt anyone—anyone at all.

We here at Bookstr say:

Read it now!

And you definitely should. It was released September 4th, so what are you waiting for?

 

Featured Image Via NOPL

‘Gone Girl’ Author Sickened Over Lawyer’s Comparison to Missing Woman Case

Jennifer Dulos was last seen May 24th shortly after dropping her kids off at school. The prime suspect in the case is her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, and his new girlfriend, Michelle Troconis. Both were arrested June 2 for tampering with evidence and hindering the prosecution. Both are out on bond, but these aren’t the strangest events in the missing person’s case.

Jennifer Dulos, missing Connecticut Mom

image via new york daily news

Dulos’ lawyer has come up with what he calls the “Gone Girl” theory: Jennifer Dulos planted evidence and ran off in an attempt to fake her own death and framing her husband. Gillian Flynn, author of the New York Times Bestseller, is not having it.

In Flynn’s book, Gone Girl, the wife stages the scene of a violent crime in her shared home with her husband and disappears. The story is told through the eyes of her husband, who comes home to find her gone, and her old diary entries. Both are unreliable narrators, taking the story from a mystery that immediately implicates the husband to a story on how the wife planned on faking her own death. By comparing Jennifer Dulos’ case to Flynn’s book, they are belittling the very real issue of domestic violence, a threat that doesn’t disappear when a relationship ends.

'Gone Girl' movie and book cover side by side

image via screencrush

Norm Pattis, Fotis Dulos’ attorney, brought up Jennifer’s 500-page novel, which she wrote over seventeen years ago, in conjunction with Flynn’s work saying “We don’t know what had become of Jennifer, but the ‘Gone Girl’ hypothesis is very much on our mind.”

Flynn also responded to these comparisons with NBC News, saying:

I’ve seen in recent coverage that Jennifer’s husband and his defense attorney have put forward a so-called ‘Gone Girl theory’ to explain Jennifer’s disappearance. It absolutely sickens me that a work of fiction written by me would be used by Fotis Dulos’s lawyer as a defense, and a hypothetical, sensationalized motive behind Jennifer’s very real and very tragic disappearance.

Gone Girl, which is also a major motion picture, is sensational because of the storytelling elements Flynn uses to capture the emotions of the reader and shock them with the ending. The truth of the matter is that it is far more likely Fotis Dulos is behind his wife’s disappearance due to trends in violence among men and women than it is that Jennifer Dulos is faking her own death.

Carrie Luft, a representative of Jennifer’s friends and family, also responded to Pattis’ outlandish comparison stating, “Jennifer is not here to protect her children, and these false and irresponsible allegations hurt the children now and into the future.”

featured image via world times news