First things first, with a title like Bullets, Teeth and Fists, how can you go wrong? Then, add to that the fact that this is the third volume in a series and you realize you really have stumbled across a hidden gem. This was another book I was sent by Blackthorn Book Tours, the second actually and I was extremely anxious to get to it. I knew from the start that it was a collection of short stories but, I had no idea what I was getting into.
These stories aren’t all your normal, run-of-the-mill short horror stories. Some display the classic earmarks of terror that every horror lover lives for while others are more abstract and shall we say, creative in inducing those hairs on the back of your neck to stand up, your bottom jaw to hang open and your fingers to prepare to turn the page in anticipation before you’re even halfway done reading it.
Bullets, Teeth and Fists 3 is a fantastic collection of everything, something for every kind of horror fanatic. Every twisted tale careful crafted to lure you in and keep you there, holding you hostage amongst the words, your only escape is the satisfaction of getting to the end and finding out what lies in store. And as that sense of relief sets in, the very next piece of fiction takes you for another morbid ride.
I was a little bummed when I found out this was the third book in the series and I was just hearing about it. After reading this one, I am DEFINITELY going to want to get the first two, without a doubt. This author, Jason Beech, has his own style which incorporates the best qualities of horror and fiction. He doesn’t always give you the answer, sometimes he lets your wheels spin…and perhaps, sometimes, it’s better to not know what happens past a certain point.
One thing I want to say that just kept rattling around in my head as I was reading through this book was how much it seemed like an adult version of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. While certainly not all campfire type stories, they do have a certain ebb and flow as you move swiftly through the pages. I found it to be fun and refreshing, not to mention a very enjoyable approach to horror writing. I am quite the lover of short horror stories and I certainly love whole collections and series done by individual authors. I think it’s because you get to see the vast imagination of the author while they still stay within one genre. Yes, it takes a lot of skill to bring an entire novel to fruition but, to create a collection of short stories and have them be a strong representative sample of the immense talent along the horror spectrum that you, as the author, possess, I find that to be quite an accomplishment as well.
Buy Bullets, Teeth and Fists 3 HERE
You can buy any Jason’s work from Amazon and read his work at Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey, Close to the Bone, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Punk Noir Magazine, Punk Noir, and Pulp Metal Magazine.
Facebook: Messy Business
Thanks to the gracious and wonderful people at Blackthorn Book Tours, I was afforded the opportunity to read what I consider to be an amazing piece of writing with genius spread all the way through.
In the book Hot Splices, we get a glimpse into the other side of life as a film student and/or film junkie…addict, if you will. This story brings to life a belief and faith in a group of Film Gods, their impact on the students of film, the makers of film and the actual filming material itself.
Throughout the entire book there are a multitude of film references. Some are obvious and most anyone could pick up on. Others are more obscure and require a little more attention. Either way, the amount of film knowledge possessed by the author is astounding. As I said, some of the film references are very easy to get, others are like little Easter Eggs hidden within the text of the novel.
And here’s something very different. I found this little tidbit to be quite fascinating. These film students, past and present, all gather in a communal house called The Tower. Each generation kind of has their own space, you could say. But what they all use this particular space for…is Flixing. Flixing is when they take one single frame of film and suck on it. When they do that the chemicals from the frame melt into their bodies and they start kind of “tripping” in a way, like LSD, except that in their trip, they are part of the movie they are sucking on. They can pick certain scenes from movies and live them, in a way. Now, just like with any serious drug use, there are sign that these people are taking the flixing to a whole new level. They all get these marks on their bodies, like the perforated edges of movie film on those big rolls that theaters use. Those perforation marks on their bodies are like the track marks of the addicts of flixing.
Plus, we even have film mythology. This was an incredible part of the story to me because it was like the glue that pulled everything together. This was also where the curiosity and mystery lie in the story. There’s a set of films, included in this set is a probable snuff film. The filmmaker has been long gone but, the myth still lives on. That myth being that if you watch this set of films in a particular order it will induce psychosis and everyone viewing will freak out and become killers. Totally a fantastic idea for a horror novel, maybe even a movie…?
Then, there’s the vivid descriptions of the violence and the sexual encounters, the descriptions of the flixing trips, it’s all so bright and shocking, jaw dropping at some points, at others you feel the fear and suspense pulling you into the pages of the story, as if the text can reach out and grab you by the back of the neck and drag you into the page.
Some of the violence is totally gnarly and at times, it’s even intertwined with very tantalizing sexual encounters. These encounters are written in a very visual way, as any good writer should be able to do, yet, at the same time, they have a very technological, scientific, astrological type imagery that is created. But, believe me, the sex is done is a classy way to where it’s still hot and steamy but also incorporates the horror aspect in a spectacular way as to make you get the full film going experience but, completely in text form.
All of this builds to an ultimately dramatic ending, wickedly and vividly described with spellbinding excitement and action laced with raw animalistic emotion.
Truly in a class of its own, Hot Splices has successfully SPLICED itself into my memory and will stay there for a long, long time. I even think it’s one of those books that you can definitely read a second or third time and probably pick up on things you may have missed previously. So, well worth the read. Mike Watt has taken what could have been just simple subject matter and catapulted it into a realm of deep complexity and sinister dreams. I would highly recommend this to any film lover and to any horror lover, for the two are rarely combined so well.
Big thanks to Blackthorn Book Tours and Mike Watt!
Visit Mike Watt at the following sites:
Buy Hot Splices Here
Visit Blackthorn Book Tours Here
Okay, I have to be totally honest with you guys and tell you that I about lost it when Billy Hanson contacted me and asked me if I would like to review his book. In case you guys aren’t aware, Billy Hanson wrote two of the Grimm Tales of Terror issues in volume four this past year. He wrote The Wyoming Incident and The War of the Worlds. Two very excellent issues. What was really cool is somehow he saw my reviews of those issues and then hit me up through my website to see if I would be interested in his book, Spider Season. Ummm, HELL YEAH!!!!
SO, here I am about to tell you about this book. First, it is a collection of short stories, all written by Hanson himself. As you all know, I love short horror stories. And I was beyond thrilled when one of the writers from my all-time favorite comic book series contacted me to let me know he had put a book together of his own short stories. Hanson is truly talented and I feel like this collection of horror tales highlights his love for both short stories and the horror genre itself.
Here we have ten short stories, three of them are even actually screenplays, which was something new, fun and different. I don’t usually read screenplays so, it gave a different feel to those three stories. You got more of an idea how they would be viewed as a movie rather than only what you create in your own imagination. It was kinda cool to have a different format for the a few of the stories.
While there were a few stories that I considered REALLY good, the entire collection was fantastic and fun to read. Each story is unique and fascinating. There’s practically something for everybody. That’s one of the reasons I love collections of short stories so much. One tale, titled ‘The Clearing’ was a spectacular story of suspense and tension. Another one called ‘She Was Perfect’ was a PERFECT 10/10 on the creep-o-meter. He’s got another one entitled ‘Paris with the Lights Turned Low’ which is a fabulous revenge/whodunnit tale. And there’s even one that is fairly realistic according to my true crime shows, the story titled ‘Music from the Gun Room’.
It’s obvious that Hanson has a love for short horror stories. As you flip through each page, the words jump out at you, grab you by ears and pull you along for the terrifying ride. Hanson is not only a writer but also a filmmaker, projects ranging from music videos to comics to books to films and more, including the acclaimed adaptation of Stephen King story 'Survivor Type'. The man has got some skills people. If you get the opportunity, you really should grab this book. It reads very quickly and the stories are even somewhat reminiscent of the classic The Twilight Zone episodes.
You can get your copy HERE.
Written by Pulitzer Prize winner Raymond Bonner, this book is the heart wrenching description of a true crime AND a true miscarriage of justice. By telling each part of the case in full, from beginning to end, it is plainly and irrefutably shown that our justice system is far from perfect. This is truly one of those cases that is so wild it’s almost incomprehensible.
In January, 1984, Dorothy Ely Edwards, an elderly white woman was found brutally raped and murdered in her home. She had been stuffed in her own bedroom closet after her death. The man convicted for the murder was Edward Lee Elmore. Elmore was a mentally challenged black man who had no history of violence at all. He had done odd jobs here and there for Ms. Edwards, simple home repairs, yard work, etc. The only evidence directly placing Elmore at the crime scene, linking him to the crime scene period, was a regular latent fingerprint in an area away from the crime scene in the bedroom and found at a normal point of entry of the house for Mr. Elmore to have used. So, this fingerprint is entirely circumstantial, at best.
The rest of the evidence included pubic hairs ripped from the assailant during the sexual assault, blood on Elmore’s clothes and a fingerprint under the toilet seat in the bedroom bathroom adjacent to the room where the crime was believed to have taken place. They did find blood matching the victim on Elmore’s pants. But none of this evidence proved Elmore’s guilt. In fact, when looked at objectively, it exonerates him more than it incriminates him.
First, there was a lot of controversy over the pubic hairs that were found at the scene. The was a debate over how many hairs there were, this piece of information even being contradicted on the stand by the State’s own witnesses. Plus, there was no DNA from the pubic hairs presented at trial, making their only probative value the technician’s conclusion that they came from an African-American male. Next, the fingerprint under the toilet seat in the master bathroom didn’t match Elmore. And the blood on his pants, was such a small amount that he could have possibly been wearing those pants when he committed the crime if he was the assailant. The amount of brutality and violence unleashed upon Ms. Edwards was so horrific that blood would have been everywhere, all over his clothes, his body, his face, his hair, some would have even managed to find its way into places like inside the rim of his shoes or glasses if he was wearing glass, inside the band of a watch. And yet, all they found were some small blood drops, tiny ones.
Even though the District Attorney had a weak case against Elmore they still decided to take it to trial anyway. The prosecutor was extremely overzealous in his pursuit of convicting Edward Elmore. Not only did they go to trial with this piddly little fingerprint on the other side of the house, to which the defense could have said that fingerprint got there any of the times at which he had worked for her or when he had stopped by a few days before to pick up a check for payment for a job he’d done. But it gets worse.
The prosecutor, the judge and even Elmore’s own defense attorney were all VERY close during the whole proceeding. The defense attorney rarely questioned witnesses, if any. He repeatedly showed up to court inebriated. The defense attorney’s biggest concern seemed to be getting the trial over with as quickly as possible with having to do as little work as possible. This is not only vital but, dangerous for the outcome of this case. The fact that your defense team isn’t working to defend you…that’s a freakin’ problem!!! Nothing was done to contest Elmore’s mental capacity to stand trial and it was clear when he was on the stand, he didn’t fully understand everything that was being said or going on. And as the attorney badgered him, it was like is defense lawyer was taking a nap because he was hung over.
So, needless to say, at the first trial, Elmore was found guilty. He was also sentenced to death.
With every death penalty sentence comes an automatic appeal. Elmore and his family were hoping this would be their chance to get the truth out that Edward did not commit this terrible crime. Unfortunately, even though he was granted the saving grace of a second trial, it was an exact repeat of the first, almost down to the letter. This resulted in another conviction and another appeal. A third trial ensued. Yet another carbon copy of the first two trials with a conviction and death sentence to follow.
No new evidence was presented at any of these trials. The defense did no extra leg work to try to get ahead in the second or third trials. The prosecution repeated exactly everything they had in each trial and they had come out on top every time. And the judge made it clear on the record that he held a biased position on the matter.
All of this ended up landing Edward Elmore in prison on death row for over 20 years. Throughout three trials, this poor man could not catch a break. It wasn’t until a young lawyer with a lot of faith and zeal herself decided to poke around into the case and eventually freeing Elmore.
This book is a thorough example of how the justice system can be manipulated to exploit minorities, the disenfranchised, the broke and the hungry. The facts that are brought to light in this book are not only appalling but also very unsettling because it really does make you wonder who would be next. It gives excellent depictions as to how devious the government can get and how far they are willing to go, whether it’s right or wrong.
But, on the brighter side, it is also a reminder that situations like these are exactly why we have automatic appeals and some form of system of checks and balances to hopefully try to prevent the innocent from being convicted or put to death for a crime they didn’t commit.
However, this book could most definitely be used as part of a very convincing argument against the death penalty. I was a huge proponent of the death penalty before I read this and after I read this book, I found myself questioning a number of things, I’m curious if you will too.
By Hulden Morse
This was one of the best fiction “true story” novels I have ever had the opportunity to read. This was such an intense story that, after reading it, I had to wait an entire week to be able to collect my thoughts well enough to write a review for it.
Under the idea that ALL of this really happened…
The CEO of a non-profit help-the-homeless organization decides to go undercover after finding out that five of his districts are doing exponentially better than the others in the country. He knows that just calling or showing up, running an internal audit, that sort of thing will not get to the REAL reasons as to why these districts are so much more successful than all the others, some much more well established than these. To find out what it is that he’s not being told, he figures the best course of action is to actually live on the streets as a homeless person and wait for recruiters from one of his facilities to come and “enlist” him into their program.
Their program involves medical treatment, life coaching, job skills and training, housing placement, job placement. All of the things one would need to get back on their feet and re-enter society as a contributing member (to put it in politician and therapeutic speak). What they do is they have staff members that drive vans around in neighborhoods where homeless tend to congregate. Then they get out, talk to the people on the streets, tell them how they can help them with food, shelter, medical care, work, etc. The people get in the vans and then they are led to the facility and enrolled in the life coaching/rehabilitation program. Once they graduate from the program, they are placed into the job market and put out into the world to start their lives anew. These five districts have exceptionally high recruitment, success and placement rates. The numbers of homeless people in their areas have also changed. But something with the numbers…is off.
Charles Pearson, CEO of Reaching Dreams, takes himself to the streets. Nobody is aware, not even his wife and children, except his Chief Administrative Assistant Paula Hamilton and a private investigator, tasked with the sole responsibility of keeping Charles safe and under close watch while living on the streets. Unfortunately, their efforts to keep Charles’ experiment a secret nor to keep Charles safe are successful.
As it turns out, Charles does get “recruited” while on the streets. But it’s not what anybody thinks. Charles is taken from the streets in his sleep and wakes up in some strange facility, one that he is not sure is a Reaching Dreams facility. There he finds the difference between those that truly want to help people and those that want something entirely different.
Soon, Charles finds himself trapped in a facility of Hell, made worse by the fact that it seems to be well funded, highly condoned and one of the best kept secrets to date.
As more and more details become known, Charles must use everything within himself to try to figure out where he is, what is going on and what the final plan for him entails. At the same time, his go-to gal Paula is frantically trying to uncover the mystery within the company and, at the same time, find her beloved mentor and employer without causing anything else bad to happen...or losing her job.
I found this entire novel to be intensely riveting and a must read. I had a very hard time putting it down and often read until my eyes could simply no longer stay open. It was definitely a fast-paced thriller and kept moving with every chapter. No lulls, no boring chapters full of character description and scenery. Something happens every chapter, everywhere.
I also love the way it’s written. The idea that it’s an actual event in American history coming out at yet another time in society when so many are questioning the veracity of the government is a fantastic attention getter. I think there are so many people that are leery of the government as it is that this story would scare, entertain AND help reason out that kind of fear. It allows those that keep saying things like this are not possible to see that they are, in fact, possible in this day and age.
We often forget the kind of power the government has and how little they are truly monitored; how little the government is subject to a REAL system of checks and balances anymore. This novel is a microscopic example of what some think the government is actually capable of.
There are things that happen behind those government walls that we, as citizens, know nothing about. Our ignorance of many things is not only condoned but, counted upon and used against us concerning matters of all sorts, large and small. A lot of it is of little or no consequence. Matters for which the American public neither has the education, the temperance or the time to concern themselves with. We trust these people to make decisions that dictate the very rules to our existence.
And yet, what if they really were doing the things all the “Truthers” or “Conspiracy Theorists” talk about???
I have to be honest, it’s truly a difficult task to fully creep me out. To be able to impact me on a level where I had to wrestle with this story for a few days just to write a review KNOWING it was fiction says a ton about how incredibly well it’s put together. I couldn’t help but keep questioning over and over, “Wait, this IS fiction, right?” and then I would have to double check the book. Even now as I keep thinking about it while writing this review, it still gives me chills and that all over creeped out feeling. This author passed the bar with flying colors on the creep factor...and still going.
Exceptionally well done. A must read for any suspense/thriller lover.
You can purchase it HERE.
I have literally sat on this review for a week, trying to figure out the best way to write it, because this book was truly that fascinating and that interesting.
What first got my attention was of course the general summary that went along with the very enticing title. The book does, in fact, read precisely like a journal and one of a truly troubled individual. It’s like a deep dive into the mind of what once was a fairly normal young man and how he became a violent sex offender and murder.
What we get in this book is a fictional glimpse into the psyche of an abused boy who grows up not knowing how to deal with any of his emotions, no coping skills to deal with his abuse, no support system outside of his sister (and even that is a questionable ally at times) and nowhere he can consider a truly safe place to be himself.
Let me give you a little background on our young man/offender. His name is Russell Pisarek. He is 26 years old. He lives with his sister and her young son, who absolutely adores his uncle. Russell has a job at some sort of research facility where they use animals for testing. He is socially awkward and has trouble making friends and fitting in. He comes from a very dysfunctional home and was abused throughout his entire childhood by both his mother and his father. Although his father took part in the abuse, his mother was ultimately the controlling factor in the house and she governed with the heaviest of iron fists.
There’s one more thing about Russell. He wets the bed. Not all the time, well, at least not anymore. As a child this was a real problem and when he would have a nighttime accident, his mother went to great lengths to punish him in a variety of ways. She not only humiliated him inside and outside their household, she beat him, berated him and worst of all (for him) she would shave his head EVERY time he would pee the bed. If he tried to resist the punishment, she and his father would viciously hold him down to get the job done.
This type of violence and discipline begets a lot of built up anger and resentment in Russell. He begins to hate his mother Melanie. So much so that he’s given her the nickname “melanoma” because he feels she’s like a cancerous poison in his life. He also has no respect for his father, whom he calls by his first name, Jody, instead of Dad or anything like that.
As we read through Russell’s journal we learn about the difference between a stressor and a trigger in the psychopathy of a budding serial killer. The stressor is explained to us repeatedly and in incredible detail, while the trigger that finally sets him off into actually carrying out his thoughts and desires is a single occurrence near the end of the book.
But it is so easy to follow the evolution of the psychopath when it is laid out for us in this fashion. The descriptions of anger and pain, resentment and the feeling of inadequacy and not belonging, are clearly articulated in this book. So well done in fact, that I often wondered if the author somehow had some sort of personal experience with a psychopath or the details of psychopathology.
I mean, if there was an ongoing investigation and some cops found this journal, they would be having a field day ripping this Russell guy to shreds. It would be so easy for a profiler to nail him off of this kind of material as well. He basically gives a road map to his measured and somewhat controlled insanity.
I really enjoyed this book. It felt incredibly real when reading it. There ARE some parts, like the first page, that are pretty gruesome and not for the faint of heart. But, those are few in the book and overall, it’s not a gore-fest or anything like that. But, it IS chilling and very creepy to read, especially when I know that there are people out there right now with psychopathology so similar to this and worse. It can make you cringe.
There will surely be moments while reading this where you’ll hate Russell and want to throw the book across the room. But, make no mistake, if you are human with ANY empathy in you at all, there will be moments where you will feel for him too. The thought that “something is just not right with him” or “it’s really not ALL his fault” or “that poor kid” may very well cross your mind. And when it does, remember that these people do exist. And most of them were born like you and me. Somewhere along the line in their upbringing things got done wrong, miscommunicated, mistaught, cross-contaminated and cross-wired. The end result is usually a combination of so many things gone wrong which is why these killers always seem to be such a psychological disaster area.
This book is a really interesting, entertaining, enjoyable read. It can also be an eye opener to those who are interested in how these people become the way they are. This book is well written, insightful, has a lot of power in it and seems to have a lot of true psychology foundation. (I know because I majored in Psychology and Criminology in college.) So, it’s not like the psychology of the book is completely made up. It has actual merit as far as I am concerned.
Truly a stunning and chilling read that makes you curious about humanity and question it at the same time.
I ordered this tiny little book online. I thought it would be a nice little read. Aside from the countless punctuation errors, there’s really little actually wrong with the book. It didn’t necessarily give ME any new information but for someone who was just starting out and looking for some overall introductory information on cults, I suppose this could be a good start. Maybe. (Maybe not. Read on.)
However, if you are going to read this book there are a few things you should know. First, this person (or these people, I don’t even know because there is no author or authors listed on the book) didn’t even have the wherewithal to use the easy access advent of spellcheck, which is on almost every single word processing program out there…almost. I mean, even if you’re self-publishing, which I fully support, there really is no reason to not hit spellcheck. Even the internet checks spelling for you! Moving on…
I think this author also got confused between socialism and communism when talking about Jim Jones. Both can cause widespread destruction and poverty of epidemic proportions, not to mention bring down the morale of anyone included in such circumstances. Then again, so can capitalism. But while Jones was fascinated BY Hitler and his Communist views, he himself preached socialism which, while very similar to communism, is different because the working public aren’t the ones who own everything. Long and short is, communism is where everyone “owns” everything so, (in theory) everyone has a reason to work. Everyone is equal and working toward one communal goal and things are only distributed on a need by need basis. In socialism, things needed for survival are provided by the government (or whoever is in charge) and the workers get wages they can spend on what they choose.
The author of this book uses the word communism instead of socialism for an entire chapter and it’s just ridiculous. Jim Jones was the first to have a fully integrated church in Indiana. (I think it’s pretty safe to say Hitler wasn’t preaching social equality for ALL when he was shaking his fist and shouting at his followers.) But never once did Jones preach of a communist lifestyle. He went on about how he never bought a new pair of shoes or a new car, he wasn’t materialistic, that kind of palaver. Yet you never saw him in meager clothes or scuffed, old shoes, shabby, old robes. Oh no, not Jim Jones.
The author also seems to think that making money for profit and the free market is communism when in fact, that’s capitalism. In capitalism, it’s every man for himself, no limits, if it’s possible and within the bounds of the law (and apparently, sometimes not) and you can make money at it, go for it. (Unless, it's changed since I woke up this morning???) Part of me REALLY wants to find this author (or authors) and urge them to go back to school...high school...college...hell, at this point, I'd just let them look it up on the internet like they did everything else.
Furthermore, on the title page of a section on David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, they have a picture of Koresh. It is a mugshot from an arrest in 1989. They have it listed as “1998, Branch Davidian leader, David Koresh, in a police line-up following a gun battle with former Davidians.” The problem with that is that Koresh died in 1993 AND it was a mugshot, not a line-up. So, he looks very healthy for having been dead fo five years. Especially since I know he died after having been shot twice and left in a burning buiding. Yes, I understand that it could be a simple transposition of numbers but, that’s what proofreading is for. And if you can’t pay someone to do it, DO IT YOURSELF. It's what I do.
After a while of reading, I started to just kind of wonder who wrote this and where they got their information. Well, lucky for me at the back of the book they list where they found all their information. The majority of it was found in newspaper articles online, some books (of which some I have read myself), video clips, YouTube, and other random places. A little along the lines of how I do my research. I don’t trust newspapers or news clips and such so much, the media tends to skew the facts and chop up the details to present the juiciest story, not the truth. I found a little of that in this person’s writing as well. While the gist of what they were writing was true, the REAL definition and/or implication of what they were actually putting into print meant something completely different or something outside of what was originally intended.
I am not knocking the research technique. There are people all over that do the same kind of research. We used to call it going to the public library (for you younger folks, they do still have those and they aren't just to get free air conditioning and free movies on DVD). Anyways, I don’t care if you look stuff up online. And I don’t even care if you have 100 sources for your information. I think it was even more awesome that they listed all of their sources and IF I were writing an actual book and not on a blog, I would do the same thing.
HOWEVER, I tend to lend a lot more weight to the sites with higher integrity reputations rather than, oh, how popular they are. So, let’s say The Washington Post versus National Enquirer. Both are read incredibly often by thousands upon thousands of people. But one of them prints facts that are checked and verified and one prints stories for money and no verification. It’s not that it’s ACTUALLY a lie, but it’s definitely easier to not have to fact-check and get people to go on-record and such. SO, who’s more reputable?
But, I get sidetracked. As you all know.
Again, it’s not that this book is telling WRONG information as it is I think relaying misunderstood information in a few areas. I found it on thriftbooks.com for $4. So, it’s not like it was a huge investment OR loss. But, it’s cover price is $8.99 and I would NEVER have been okay paying that. And that's if I didn't have the knowledge I have already about the topic and then with the mistakes that are inside. This is marketed as an overall introduction to cults with summaries of the most common ones. So, if I were looking for the basic information I would definitely have purchased this book and I would have gotten wrong information in spots. That’s messed up. Any time someone gets material to learn something and they get wrong information, it’s messed up.
I don’t know, I guess I’m on the fence about this one. It’s certainly not at the top of my list. But, it’s not a no-go/don’t read. I guess, just be aware that there are mistakes and don’t take all the information in it as complete fact.
Note: I'm sure there are punctuation and typo mistakes in this and other posts of mine. However, I'm not paying for it to be printed and published. More importantly, I'm not making people pay to read it.
This was a very new take on the traditional courtroom drama type novel. Not only is the author, Benjamin H. Berkley a contributing writer for the ever-popular Huffington Post, he’s also actually been practicing law for over forty years. I point that out because it definitely gives an element of truth to the courtroom scenes in the novel. It also makes the courtroom rhetoric flow much more effortlessly and come across a whole lot more believable.
This book definitely pulls together an interesting emotional maze. I swear it would totally make a fantastic Lifetime movie. I am going to do this review in a slightly different format because I think it might be a little easier to follow and it might be more fun…well, for me at least. Ha ha ha!!! Since it IS a book, I don’t have actual images for the characters so…we’ll have to just do without. So, here we go.
Meet Lauren Hill. She is a successful defense attorney. She’s never lost a case. She is the epitome of the butt of every lawyer joke you can possibly imagine. She has an attitude and an ego that both rival her acquittal rate. She is currently defending a man, Martin Maze, who is on trial for killing his wife. He maintains his innocence. She doesn’t care. Hill is unhappily married to her husband Dennis and has a teenaged daughter Constance, both of whom she hardly ever sees. Or interacts with.
Next, there’s Ryan Thompson. This self-assured young man is Lauren’s assistant. His job is to do whatever Ms. Hill tells him to. At this point, in his career and hers, his job is to act as co-counsel when needed (not that Lauren would EVER ask for help), pass her papers when in court, get coffee, make sure witnesses (and the defendant) make it to court and to babysit the defendant, Martin Maze.
Enter Martin Maze. Here we have an awkward shell of a man, destroyed by the loss of his wife and his inability to grieve due to having to fight for his own life. The Prosecution asserts that Maze threw his wife overboard while they were on a cruise. A cruise that was supposed to be a second honeymoon of sorts. Maze vehemently denies any wrongdoing in the matters concerning the untimely departure of his wife from this earth.
And of course we need the Prosecutor, Bradley, the fearless champion of the State. This is a very competent legal professional that has made one fatal career mistake. He is sleeping with opposing counsel. They are really smooth and do a great job of keeping it on the down low but, that’s practically career suicide in any job. Sleeping with co-workers, statistically, usually doesn’t work out well. However, yes, I know, there are exceptions.
Now, where would we be in a trial without a Judge to preside over the whole proceedings. In this case, that lucky judicious warrior of truth is Judge Howell. Howell knows both attorneys, Lauren Hill and Bradley. Judge Howell is a huge supporter of Lauren’s and thinks she is a fantastic and talented lawyer.
Constance is Lauren’s daughter. The poor kid is having a hard time adjusting to, well, everything. She’s dealing with teen angst, a breaking family, a mother that values her career more than life itself, knowing her mom is cheating on her dad. She also feels like her mother shuts her out a lot and isn’t interested in her at all, who she’s with, what’s going on in her life, where she’s at…nothing. Constance feels totally alone, unwanted and unloved, even forgotten by her mother. As with most teens, these emotions cause Constance to act out in ways that most parents would not approve of.
Finally, there’s Dennis. Dennis is Lauren’s husband. He is still completely in love with his wife regardless of the fact that she makes it perfectly clear that his mere existence and drawing breath in the same room as she is almost more than she can stomach. This is breaking Dennis’s heart more and more each day. He lives his life a partially broken man, trying to be as best of a father he can for his daughter. Dennis has dreams of being a writer but Lauren constantly beats him down and tells him it’s a ridiculous aspiration to pursue.
Now, while in court for Mr. Maze’s case, Lauren starts to experience some things that not only can she not explain but, she feels compelled to keep it to herself as she is positive NO ONE will believe her. What is her big secret?
Right in the middle of a side-bar conference with the judge at her bench, Lauren all of a sudden sees Judge Howell morph into, well, God. Yes, God. White hair, robe, the works. Can you imagine what that must be like to be a defense attorney in a murder trial, spinning the truth and facts and in the blink of an eye, you are face to face with God? Would you not feel like a total schmucko for at least a few seconds?
The rest of the story is about how Lauren deals with this new courtroom visitor, if he is real or in her head, the rest of the trial, her problems with her husband and kid, and oh yeah, the prosecutor she’s hookin’ up with on the side. This chick has a lot of stuff going on that could go really bad really fast if she’s not careful. But, does it?
I was a little leery of this story because of the religious aspect but, I have to say, I thought it all came together pretty well. While it may not have been something I would have normally bought off the shelves at the bookstore, I am glad that I was given a chance to read it. It didn’t take me very long to get through it. I do attribute a lot of that to the courtroom drama writing of the author. It was really good as far as that goes. But, there was a steady suspense/cliffhanger type factor to it too that really kept the pages flipping fast.
While I can’t recommend this for just anyone, I can totally see the people who are CourtTV buffs or perhaps crime drama buffs liking this. It definitely has a John Grisham type feel to it which can give you chills and increase your heartrate at the same time! I think this author has a special talent for the fictional law and courtroom drama stories and would really like to see more of that.
In February 1991, local Battle Creek, MI news anchor Diane King was fatally shot twice in her driveway when she arrived home with her two small children from visiting family. Diane was married to Bradford King for about six and a half years. They lived in a quiet farmhouse somewhat away from the hustle and bustle of the world with their two children, son Marler, age 3, and daughter Kateri, who was three months old at the time of her mother’s murder.
Diane was a strong, independent and successful local news anchor who had worked her way up from the bottom rung of the ladder after a mid-life career change. She was a beautiful and vibrant thirty-four-year-old woman with a radiant smile and a fantastic delivery for television. She loved her news career and she loved being a mother. She was close to her family and friends and though some co-workers felt her style in the workplace was coarse and aggressive, the vast majority of people saw her as compassionate and caring, kind and giving. And no one could deny her drive or commitment to her career or to her family.
Brad on the other hand…Brad was a forty-three-year-old Criminal Justice Instructor at Western Michigan University. It wasn’t so much a full-time gig. He was teaching one class at the time of his wife’s murder. The previous term, her had taught three. There, on the college campus, Bradford King was known as a friend to the students, his door always being open for students to ask questions and in particular, it was always open to students of the female persuasion. Although Brad wasn’t in the running for “Sexiest Man Alive”, he apparently made up for it with an impressive amount of charm affording him the ability to effectively sweet talk practically any female student he chose. Brad was not liked by Diane’s family because they either knew of or suspected his multiple affairs. They also thought he was somewhat of a leech, living off of Diane and her success without going out into the world and carving his own. He had already held down several jobs, military service, twelve years as a police officer and now as a Criminal Justice Instructor but, he went through his share of rough times just like anyone else.
Still, there was some conjecture about the marriage between Brad and Diane. Diane had recently been receiving creepy phone calls after she turned down a fan for a lunch date. Then she received a threatening letter like the ones people get in movies, the ones where they are comprised of letters cut from magazines and newspapers and glued to a page to spell out a message. Diane was basically being told she should have gone to lunch with this person.
Now, while Diane and Brad had told a number of people about this harassment, they decided they would work out a security system so that whenever she got home, she would NOT exit her vehicle until she saw Brad on the property. This meant sometimes she would wait in the car for a couple hours until he got home at night. But they had this completely worked out, no way she was to get out of the car without Brad being there.
So, on February 9, 2001 at (by my best guess) around 6:15pm, Diane pulls into her driveway with her two kids in the backseat. Her mother has called ahead to tell Brad Diane was on her way home. She is surprising him with the kids as she was supposed to leave them overnight with a family member. She gets out of her car, leaving her two small children in the back. Before she knows what is going on, she is shot once in the chest, the fatal shot. Then, moments later, a second gunshot rips through her abdomen right at the top of her pubic region. Behind the scenes, the off-the-cuff term for this is “the bitch shot” as in “Take that, Bitch!”. Her son is the only child that is old enough to know anything is going on and all he sees is his Mommy fall down to the ground.
According to Brad’s initial statement, he was home most of the day, received the call from his mother-in-law that Diane was on her way home, took a nap, ran a couple errands, ate lunch, worked outside for a bit and went for a walk. He says he went for his walk around 6:00pm. This was about the time he should have been expecting Diane home. He said that he returned to find her on the ground in the driveway. He phoned 911 Emergency Services at 6:40pm.
What followed next was over a year of frustration, setbacks, disappointments and undermined hard work at seemingly every turn. From the very beginning the police seemed to subconsciously work against themselves. Either they weren’t trained and equipped to handle the situation at hand OR they were and just didn’t use their training and equipment.
Many things in the investigation went wrong or were mishandled. The crime scene wasn’t taped off at the start of the investigation. That means anyone could have entered an exited the scene at any time. The husband and friends were allowed back at the scene before it had been released. There were no casts taken of the footprints at the scene. The list goes on and on.
This made for a tough case for the prosecution. It also made it very easy for the defense to try to raise reasonable doubt at trial.
Brad was a suspect from early on. It was very suspicious to everyone that Diane would have exited her vehicle if she hadn’t seen Brad. Plus, it was hard for anyone to believe that some stalker could have gotten on the property and lay in wait for her without Brad or the dog being alerted to their presence. Nothing was adding up. Additionally, months into the investigation, Brad told a number of people that the cops were, and I’m paraphrasing here, screwing things up and too stupid to ever find out who did it and they’ll never get it right.
Eventually, they DID get it right and after over a month of trial, Bradford King was found guilty of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison with no parole.
His defense attorney was a real piece of work and honestly, even though the guy has tons of people saying he’s one of the best there is, I wouldn’t have paid for his opening statement and closing argument. What a waste. He babbled as if he didn’t know what to say and being in a courtroom was new to him. Awful.
At his sentencing Brad criticized everyone involved with the entire process from the investigation to the trial EXCEPT his lawyer. He insulted the judge, the police, the detectives, the lawyers, the jury, the victim’s family, the system, everyone. The only TRUE victim in his eyes…was him. No matter what he claimed in his final statement.
In the end, his in laws got custody of his children, which he didn’t want to happen. He’s sitting in jail exhausting appeals with a public defender because the high priced attorney from his trial dropped him the day he was found guilty due to the fact that Brad had no money to pay for the appeals process…and this big time lawyer doesn’t work for murderers for free. King has lost support from the bulk of his family and friends. There may be one or two that still support him but they are few and far between if they are.
I found this book in a thrift store. I saw the word “stalking” and grabbed it. I actually had to look it up online to see what it was about when I decided to read it and was thrilled when I saw that it was about a true crime that happened in the 90s.
The book didn’t take long to read and it was interesting. I think there was a little too much time spent on the whole entire life history of the main players. I don’t know about other people who would read this but, me personally, I don’t really care about the suspect’s summer job as a teenager or his college student career. I think that may be going a little far. I think the author could have just started at where Diane and Brad met and went from there but, hey, to each his own I guess.
I also think the timeline layout of the book could have been a little more organized. We go from the day of the murder to a rundown of Diane’s life to the day of the murder again then we learn about Brad’s whole life, then back to the murder scene, then marital discord…the author just hops all over the place. The last third of the book is where the real meat of the story seems to be because that’s where we get the majority of the trial and the interrogations of Brad. I would have liked to have the life history stuff together after the introduction and then all the crime stuff together with the trial. That, I feel, would have flowed better. I found myself looking back toward the front of the book to refer to the beginning once I got to the trial portion of the story. Other than that, it was a good read.
Here we have the original short story by Stephen King, first published in Cavalier magazine in 1972.
I found it in Stephen King Goes to the Movies, which is a collection of his short stories that have been made into movies. It’s the same collection I found “1408” in.
The Mangler can also be found it its most common place, King’s collection in the book Night Shift.
Like many writers, it took King many years to become the master of the macabre we know him as today. During the time he was waiting to become a big success King held a number of jobs. One of them was at an industrial laundry service. The kind of place where hotels and such places send their massive amounts of sheets and towels out to get laundered. There, in a large industrial building full of steam and mechanical sounds from washing machines and dryers and the like, sits a machine called a mangle. This is the machine that presses and flattens large sheets, towels, tablecloths, etc. It can also be used to dry them at the same time they are being pressed by blasting them with extremely high temperature steam. Plus, there is a setting on this machine to allow it to fold the laundered items as well.
The first version of this was used as a wringer to wring excess water out of clothes. (I remember my Great Grandmother had a wringer that, after the clothes went through the washing machine, we had to feed each garment through one at a time, oftentimes more than once, and then we would hang the clothes to dry on the clothesline. All of this was done in the finished barn she had as none of the laundry facilities were actually in the house. This thing HAD to have been from the 30s or 40s at least. It was the same size as her washing machine.)
Anyways, the mangle is the star of this story. Nicknamed “the mangler” it is the heart and soul of the fear inducing spookiness of this twisted tale. The story takes place in an industrial laundry where a detective has been called in to investigate a horrible workplace accident that has resulted in death. A woman who was working the mangler had somehow gotten caught in the rollers, even though the machine had a safety bar and it was fully functional and in proper working order. Once the rollers had gotten ahold of her the machine pulled her into the pressing mechanism in a flash and well, mangled her.
During his investigation, our detective finds out that not only is this just one in the long line of many accidents involving this particular machine but, there are a number of people that believe this specific machine is haunted or possessed by something not of this world. He does some research and finds a list of horrible incidents that were written off as accidents but rumors suggest that’s not what really happened. There was a steam line that broke and burned three ladies while they were working. One gal’s dress got caught in a drive chain. Over the years various pieces and parts have randomly fallen off of the machine even though at every inspection it was checked and repeatedly reported to have no issues. Sheets constantly get caught in the folding mechanism. It just seems like one problem after another with this thing. He also finds out that it all started with an initial accident of a woman cutting herself on one of the clamps. A seemingly innocuous incident that apparently started a horrifying chain of events that led us to our fine detective friend.
Realizing that this may very well all come down to some sort of witchcraft or demonic possession he seeks the help of a friend of his. Together they come up with a plan of attack, a way to battle the evil trapped inside this mechanical nightmare. They only get one shot at this, for if they fail, they could unleash this evil and the consequences could be worse than they ever imagined.
You’ll have to either read the story or watch the movie to find out what happens.
I read this story so I could watch the movie and see how Hollywood did with bringing this King novella to life. So often they change things like they did in Cujo so, I was curious how they would translate this story to the big screen. I actually liked this tale. I do have to say that I am glad it was a short story. If it had been a full length novel, I don’t think it would have been as good which is why I am curious about the movie. Plus, I have wanted to see the movie for a while and I like doing the book vs. movie comparisons.
This was one of those King short stories where he got right to the point and ran with it. We started the story with death and we just kind of remained there in that general vicinity. The ending to the story was really one of the best parts and that’s why I’m not going to spoil it for you. Keep in mind this IS a short story so it’s not like it would take all THAT long to read, even for those who don’t read much. It’s worth it. Then again, almost anything King writes is worth reading in my opinion.
The interesting thing about this story is that it brings to life an inanimate object a way that is similar to the way he brings the hotel room to life in “1408”. Both stories are about conquering evil, albeit in a different manner. King has a special way of weaving sinister spirits and entities into his tales and having those evil things torment his characters. If you get a chance, this might be worth your while to pick up.