The Best New True Crime Stories Small Towns
Edited by Mitzi Szereto
This is another collection of true crime stores put together by Mitzi Szereto. Each story is by a different author making the flow and pace of the book different with each new crime you explore. The personality and personal experiences come through in each of the author’s chronicle the crimes of these individual very small towns.
And they are small towns. These are the towns that people joke about and say, “Don’t blink as you drive through or you’ll miss it.” (I live near a number of those towns.) And for some reason, people seem to think that the worst crimes or even just crime in general only happens in heavily populated, dense metropolises that are always buzzing with high diversity levels and every kind of business you can imagine open all the time, etc. Nobody ever thinks these kinds of things happen in a nice and quiet small town where everybody knows everybody. The kind of town that most families have someone that enters the “Famous Annual Best Squash Pie Contest” or something like that. The celebrate the first crop of the town and make Town Hall announcements of marriage instead of printings in newspapers or declarations online.
But the truth is, wherever there are human beings there will be crime and there will be crime of all sorts and on all levels.
In this particular book, which is a sister book to The Best New True Crime Stories: Serial Killers, we explore the crimes that left such kinds of small towns in a trembling wake after being terrorized by certain circumstances. Although this book was well written and I found it interesting, it wasn’t as satisfying or as captivating as the serial killer book. Some of stories came off as bland and at least one was more about the author himself than the actual crime committed or the town.
I had really been looking forward to this book after the serial killer edition had been such a success in my eyes, but once through this one I felt a little disappointed and let down. I think I also expected a different level of crime maybe. These just didn’t strike me as crimes so horrid and fascinating to be put under the heading of The Best New True Crime Stories. I think that title gives a very high expectation and for this particular book it fell just a tad flat for me.
Authored by Claire Legrand
When I got the offer for this novel, this was the summary and information that sparked my interest and got me thinking this might be something that could be cool:
From the New York Times bestselling author of Furyborn comes a breathtaking and spine-tingling novel about three teenage girls who face off against an insidious monster that preys upon young women. Perfect for fans of Victoria Schwab and Stranger Things.
Who are the Sawkill Girls?
Marion: The newbie. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.
Zoey: The pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.
Val: The queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives; a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.
Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires. Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight…until now.
So, when I received this novel, I put it on my reading list for review and anxiously awaited it.
Now I have tried to read it twice and I can’t get more than half way through it. It’s not that the story isn’t good. The story is actually pretty interesting and I must say, very unique to me. And I like the idea of the group of girls all having specific things, experiences, places in common. And I will admit there were definitely parts of this novel that made me shiver a little, parts that got me thinking about deeper issues and the paranormal and “the other side” and all that kind of fun stuff that we all love in horror and thrillers.
My problem with this novel is probably something that other will love. The structure. It goes back and forth between each girl and HER point of view, sometimes not returning to one particular girl for thirty, forty, fifty pages or so. This caused me to have to go back into previous “chapters” and try to refresh my mind as to where we were the last time Zoey was in the picture or the last time we dealt with Marion’s current issue, etc.
But, honestly, if it wasn’t for that, I could have gotten through the whole novel. It’s just that at 464 pages, I can’t keep going back and forth, it makes me feel like I’m studying for a college exam by reviewing the course textbook again like I did way back in the day.
So, truly, that is my only complaint. And to be honest, if the book were shorter it wouldn’t be a problem really because even in the beginning of the novel it wasn’t so bad. It was just as we got further in and more started to happen and you needed to remember more that it became more difficult. So, that’s the only thing that I can say took away from this novel.
Authored by M. F. Gibson
This is the blurb that got me interested in this book:
Meet Cloe and Elizabeth Yetti: antisocial, semi-homicidal eighteen-year-old twins casually surviving the AI apocalypse.
Ten years ago, a powerful machine intelligence unleashed a nanoengineered superdrug on humanity. Civilization is now a collection of mindless addicts confined to automated treatment centers that tower over drone-dominated cityscapes. Having escaped and grown up in the forests of Northern California alongside their younger brother and brilliant scientist/survivalist mother, Clo and El stayed safe while society collapsed around them.
But when a mysterious stranger and a demonic woodland creature appear and threaten their family, the twins are drawn back to a disintegrating, drug-addled San Francisco. There, biomechanical gods and monsters vie for control of what’s left of humanity’s consciousness. Armed with only a knife, an old hunting rifle, and their secret, cryptophasic twin language, Clo and El realize that surviving the apocalypse was just the beginning—now they’ve got to face it head-on.
The first book in the Babylon Twins trilogy, this epic adventure takes readers on a journey filled with sci-fi spectacle and darkly humorous twists and turns, not to mention some good old-fashioned butt-kicking.
Unfortunately, for me, that was where the real interest stopped. Now, I have tried three separate times to read this book and it just doesn’t hold my interest. Maybe it’s the post-apocalyptic thing, the weird childish names the girls have for their weapons, I don’t know. But even though I found some interest in the story, I just stay right on the edge of wanting to read this. I keep getting books that are more captivating, more interesting and this one just never makes it back into my hands to get finished. I just have no desire to find out what happens.
It IS the first book in a series about the two girls so hopefully for those that do read it, it will pick up. I have just found that it’s not for me. However, it’s not poorly written per se or anything like that. I think it’s more the futuristic subject matter that turns me off. It’s not as much horror mixed in as I had hoped.
Bedtime Tales of Horror
Written by Bradley Poage
Oooooh, this is a spooky one. And just in time for Halloween. How delightful!!!
We start with Luke and Steven. They are two Park Rangers who have been asked to put up a “TRAIL CLOSED” sign at the start of what is an incredibly popular local trail. People love this trail for its beautiful nature appeal, its quiet relaxing peace, not to mention it’s a fond trail for local joggers and hikers. While they are installing this sign, they are discussing the reason for its recent placement. They are discussing that the trail is now dangerous and they hope the sign will keep people off the trail, for their own safety. There has been a growing concern with the current prairie dog population in the area. In fact, some recent attacks have been both out of character and very threatening.
Now, Luke and Steven are petrified of the trail, but Amanda, an avid runner on the trail, is not. As she sees the sign approaching the trail, she shrugs it off and heads off on her run. Ignoring any warning of danger.
But Amanda goes missing. Terrified Luke and Steven are asked to look for her because they are the Park Rangers. Her mother had called to report her missing after she didn’t return home from her run. Luke and Steven don’t want to go search the trail. But when a worried mother begs, what are you to do? What they find during their search will never be forgotten. They had to force themselves to go look for Amanda. Will you do the same?
This is an excellent story that takes something we are accustomed to considering sweet and cute and fun. This story turns a seemingly fairly harmless thing and takes it to a whole a new level. What could it be about these adorable little furballs that could scare two grown men so much that they wouldn’t even want to walk a simple trail?
Bits of foreshadowing lead you down a road of suspense and tension. This story gives a whole new meaning to “wild prairie dogs” with descriptive mastery creating horrific images sure to make anyone think twice the next time the look at a prairie dog, plus every time thereafter. Graphic and emotional, it’s as if you are right there in the mix with the characters themselves, pulling you down into the depths of the intense and tragic plot.
This is an incredible short story and a delicious horror must read!!
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Bedtime Tales of Horror
Written by Bradley Poage
In this wicked and worrisome tale, we are rapidly reminded that no good deed goes unpunished. A lesson that has been taught time and time again over the years and through the many generations. We get warned by our elders, “No good deed goes unpunished.” As children that sentence makes no sense and we roll our eyes, often thinking that the adults are just talking out of their asses and they don’t even really speak our language. Yet as we age and we offer a helping hand here and there, we find that the old adage is true. Somehow, no matter how hard you try to be on the side of righteousness and the divine there seems to always be something that thwarts your efforts, not to mention somehow punishing you for being the do-gooder at the same time. It’s like you see someone in need, you do your good deed in helping and then the universe takes your generosity and not only slaps you in the face with it, but also throws you a solid gut punch and perhaps a good kidney shot or uppercut to the jaw. Either way, you tried to help and there you are down for the count.
And such is the story for our two lovely ladies in this tale Hatchlings. Meet Amber and Sarah. We open with Sarah walking by a van, hearing Amber crying for help from the inside. Sarah, like many of us would, does everything she can to get Amber out of the van she is being held captive in. Amber is terrified and Sarah knows time is short from Amber’s intense fear and anxiety. They get free. But the nightmare has only just begun.
Can you imagine? One minute you’re just trying to help someone out of a dangerous situation and the next thing you know, nothing is what it should be but everything is as it seems. Amber and Sarah become captive victims of unknown people for reasons unknown to them. There is no one to help them. No one to explain what is happening. And no one knows where they are.
With graphic stomach-turning images created for our devilish pleasure, this tale of terror is certain to make anyone cringe and shudder in the most glorious of horror genre ways. And following in true divine fashion and the thought of being the do-gooder, Poage has written this is a way that makes the reader form somewhat of an attachment to the characters Amber and Sarah. You start to feel with them and for them as they wage war against their fate, urging them on through their terrifying obstacles.
This is without a doubt a story you won’t want to miss. This one will leave you pulling your feet up off the ground and wondering what lurks in the darkness around you. Maybe that really IS a monster under your bed…
Amazon purchase link:
Bedtime Tales of Horror
NOTHING BUT SILENCE
Written by Bradley Poage
Here is another little tasty morsel of the macabre hot off the digital presses from Mr. Bradley Poage himself. I tell ya, this guy has some of the best horror ideas crammed into his head. I talk to him often and I just can’t believe he can keep coming up with such original plots time and time again.
In this story we get a little taste of the vengeful side of his horror mind.
The synopsis of the story is as follows:
Abby has released a killer record. Only problem is, it was stolen. Now, the original owner has come to collect from her a terrible price for her success.
See. Short and sweet and definitely gives you a chilling desire to read more.
With a fantastic introduction that leads you into the meat of the story, written in smooth transitions through shorter chapters, a new style for Poage, guiding you seamlessly from start to finish. The new format of the shorter and more frequent chapters is an excellent structure and really makes the story quite easy and speedy to read through. Plus, if you have to stop reading, because real life stops for no man or woman, the frequent shorter chapters give you the option of frequent stopping points without having to stop in the middle of a chapter and trying to remember what was going on in the midst of the story, find your train of thought or concentration again, etc. You just pick up at the next chapter. Super convenient.
Furthermore, there’s no choppiness or stuttering in the plot or makeup of the text, no weird timeline or plot jumps that make you sit and wonder “Wait, is this current? Is this a flashback? Is this a flash sideways? What the hell is happening here?”
This tiny tale of revenge is not only completely satisfying, but also shocking and disturbingly simple and creative. In fact, it reminds me of the kind of thing one might find in one of the SAW movies as a Jigsaw trap or similar to something from Stephen King from his Cat’s Eye years.
This is also one of those stories that even though you know you are supposed to feel for the “victim”, you can’t help but root for the “bad guy” as you relate to him and his predicament.
This tragic tale is very well written and is the perfect length for the current material included. It’s chilling and blood-curdling and will get blood pumping and hearts racing. This is surely to be a classic revenge tale to be enjoyed by all horror fans.
Amazon purchase link:
Written by Bradley Poage
Meet Jason. A somewhat unassuming young man with some issues, some that make regular life a little difficult at times, but who doesn’t that happen to?
Jason is a poor young soul tragically afflicted with an at times overwhelming case of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). He’s awkward and shy. He likes order and pays significant attention to even the most minute details. The problem is, when he finds something that is “not right” in his mind, it sets his whole world awry.
Jason is the kind of guy that goes to the grocery store knowing exactly how much his bill will be once he gets through the cash register. He knows down to the exact penny. And it’s not because he’s lucky or he picks the right random items. No. He works painstakingly hard at figuring out precisely what items to select, calculates the tax and gets only those items and nothing more or less. Like I said, OCD.
Like most of us Jason shops at the same local market. He’s kinda sweet on a gal that works there. Her name is Amanda. She is polite and sociable, caring and always bubbly and smiling. Jason goes to the market only on the days she works and only through her checkout line.
And also, like most of us, Jason has a few pet peeves. Well, maybe more than a few. Let’s just say a long list of pet peeves and little displeasing annoyances. Yet, unlike most of us, Jason has a very unique way of handling such grievances when they arise.
This is a fun little tantalizing tale about an unsettling character, reminiscent of the kind of person we have all come across. The kind where you feel you just KNOW something is off, you just can’t pinpoint it. That’s Jason. And poor guy is oblivious to it. We get a look inside the twisted mind of his and we follow his logic as he solves any and all affronts to his sensibilities. Full of creepy and eerie undertones, the story is highlighted with a number of OMG and WTF shock moments that will make your jaw drop. Topping it all off with a ton of horror, blood and gore, building some truly delightfully disgusting images in the mind that will make you cringe and smile at the same time. This is certainly a short story to please any horror fan.
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This is another short story from Bradley Poage, a favorite author of mine.
In this unsettling tale we are a fly on the wall in the home of Melissa, a young woman who is going through a break up with her boyfriend Jason. Yet, the break up isn’t for the typical reasons you would think of such as infidelity or money or even boredom.
Jason, in fact, cares for Melissa and is breaking up with her because he doesn’t know what else to do. A common reaction people have when they are in a relationship with such an emotional person as Melissa is. But Jason cares enough to want to help her. He wants to do good things for her, what is best for her, what’s right for her.
The question is, is what’s best for Melissa best for Jason?
Only time will tell.
Woven into this enthralling web of emotion and tension is an excellent creep factor that starts with the first page and doesn’t stop until the last word of the last paragraph. Full of suspense with a smooth and velvety buildup bolstered with the strong eeriness of a foreboding foreshadowing that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.
The plot for the story is fantastically twisted and macabre. The perfect length for the material, not overloaded with useless details or information but definitely filled with enough to give you chills. Each page briskly grabs the attention and curiosity of the reader and keeps a stronghold as we rip though the tense, eerie and suspenseful manuscript within our fingertips. A fabulous ending rounds out the fascinating story and gives a perfect finish to the tantalizing terror tale. Above everything you definitely get that chill factor with the blankness and emptiness that is an underlying tone to the whole scene created in the reader’s mind.
This was another fun novel sent to me by the fantastic folks at Blackthorn Book Tours. I have to say, while this novel is clearly for a younger audience, I can’t help but admit that even as a forty-year-old woman I found it to be quite enthralling. I almost found myself wondering, “Is this truly for young adults?” I have a baby cousin (she is like my niece because her mama is like my little sister) that is ten years old and I imagined her reading this. I know she would love it and probably want to become a version of Ninja Girl herself, especially since her brother already takes martial arts lessons, but I also found myself worrying if she would try to pull off some of the wild and outrageous ideas this little ninja tries herself.
Imagine a twelve-year-old girl, older sister to a younger brother that she feels an intense need to protect and daughter to a single mother that works her butt off on the night shift just to make ends meet and provide for her kids. This is a typical and quite common set up for single parent families nowadays. The parent has to work, often less than convenient shifts, leaving the kids to grow up on kind of an honor system. I know a number of people that grew up this way. My parents both worked. And their shifts were all over the place. Luckily, we were a two-parent home so their shifts were often opposite each other. But this is not possible for single parent homes.
In this story, this twelve-year-old girl is witness to a murder right before her young eyes in her own neighborhood. This left an indelible mark on her psyche, but not in the way you might think. She is so tired and fed up with the crime and the lowlifes that create it in her happy little bubble of the world that she has appointed herself the neighborhood watch and clean-up crew, ridding the area of the scum that violate the people that live there and their quality of life. She turns herself into a nighttime superhero and enlists the help of a neighborhood homeless man as her sidekick and together, they fight the lowest of the lowest slime that plagues their streets.
And there you have it. The story in a nutshell. But there is SO much more in this manuscript.
One of the best things in my opinion that really makes this main character a true personality is her attitude. This young lady, I can’t say kid because she’s really beyond that mentally albeit not as far as adult by any means, has an incredible tenacity. She’s such a strong pre-teen. She’s smart too. She’s got the ability to think ahead which is fascinating to me because psychologically speaking a twelve-year-old child doesn’t possess the mental faculties to predict consequences and “see around corners”.
Now, while Gaby (Ninja Girl) does possess some ability to predict consequences, she is not as adept at it as a grown adult would be. But her attitude can be displayed in the way she talks to people, her take no crap and self-assuredness. One of the funnier parts of her personality is her unique way of identifying people. She gives people nicknames. Now, these nicknames really only make sense to her, but she uses them as if they are the real names of the people she is talking about. We have Bouncyleg, Wallman and some other creative titles that, when put in context of the events of the novel, can only make you laugh.
This story is well written with an interesting, captivating and original plot. It’s filled with action, humor, fun, and realistic struggles that face today’s youth everyday all over the world. Characters with depth and true personalities bring the story to live and give it heavy emotional weight as you go from the highs of heroism to the lows of life as a latchkey kid in the projects riddled with crime and violence.
This is a wonderful work of fiction that is not only inspiring and entertaining, but eye-opening as well because it addresses the problems of life in low income areas, focusing specifically on the point of view of that life from a child’s perspective. Yet, it is fun and entertaining and uplifting as it deals with real life issues woven in with a fantastic world of fantasy.
Driven mad by poverty, the death of her father, and the ruthless streets of North Seattle’s Lake City, twelve-year-old Gabriela Urieta puts on her ski-mask at night and becomes Ninja Girl. In her own mind, she’s a superhero—the only hope for cleaning up her neighborhood. In reality, she’s a sixth-grader who drugs her little brother to sleep so she can sneak out at night and rob criminals.Using money taken from her victims, Gaby hires a transient as her sidekick, naming him “Wallman.” Together they get lost in her comic-book fantasy. But before long, Ninja Girl and her family find themselves in all sorts of danger.
About Cait Moore
Cait Moore, studied commerce and law in Australia and pursued her career in the capital markets in London. Since she was knee high to a kangaroo, she’s harboured a deep love for the written word. Her fervent belief in the “one” has led her to explore in her fiction, what binds two hearts and souls. Hers belongs to her husband, author, Michael J Moore.
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I finally got a chance to read through this book, even though it was sent to me months ago. (Believe me, my reading list is as long as a career criminals rap sheet, so it takes time to get through everything.) However long the wait was, and it felt like an eternity because I wanted to read this as soon as I got it except other reading material was on the list ahead of it, it was worth it.
I have spent the better part of the last twenty-five years focused on and enthralled in true crime and crime dramas. Mostly true crime because I have found in my experience that the truth is far stranger than fiction. Here is a book, a true crime anthology, dedicated to the research of the vile misdeeds of numerous serial killers.
The thing that amazed me the most was that I had never heard of any of these killers before. It’s not that some of them were from other countries because I have read and seen plenty about killers abroad. But to find an entire book full of serial killers and their crimes and I have never heard of not one of these guys? That’s a gold star right there!
So many times, when we hear about serial killers we think of the same people over and over, as if they are the only horrific killers that ever existed. If I were to ask an average person to name three serial killers, I’d probably hear Dahmer, Manson (not really a serial killer but for some reason always put in that class), Bundy, BTK Dennis Rader, Gary Ridgeway The Green River Killer, The Night Stalker Richard Ramirez. Perhaps John Wayne Gacy, Ed Gein if you’re a little further in the know, The Golden State Killer was recently apprehended after being hunted for almost fifty years.
But the killers in this book are truly some of the most vile criminals I’ve read about. There is one in particular, a child murderer, that is just absurdly and eerily captivating and equally repulsive at the same time. All of the killers discussed in this book are interesting to read about, some seemingly to qualify more as true serial killers than others, but it was a joy to learn so much new information all in one book. A lot of times, you have to read multiple books to learn about multiple killers. This book gives you a detailed overview of a number of serial killers and that allows you to get through a lot of information in a short amount of time AND you can pick and choose specific killers if you want to know more about them. It’s like this book is the jumping off point to further research if you’d like or it can simply be the research in itself, there’s plenty of details and specifics to keep the mind busy.
If you get the chance and you are looking for some new and fresh material to satisfy your serial killer curiosity, this is definitely a book for you!