I have long found fascination and abundant interest in not only law enforcement and forensic science but also the practice of law. As the daughter of a police officer I was fortunate enough to see a number of facets in our law enforcement and judicial system in action. I also got in trouble as a teen so I saw both sides of the law (and no, my father being a cop didn’t get me out of anything, I was treated the same as anyone else in that court). But, because Dad was a cop and I was around law enforcement all the time, and because one of his former partners on the force (the only female partner he had while a police officer) went on to become an Assistant District Attorney for our county, and later a judge where she still presides today, I was well exposed to the reality of the world we live in. And I was fascinated. Although I would later discover that careers in these fields would be too overwhelming for someone with my particular personality and health issues, the fascination remained strong. And thus began my consistent interest in true crime. So, when the opportunity to read this book came my way, I jumped at the chance.
Blurb for book:
“For almost a decade, Backpage.com was the world’s largest sex trafficking operation. Seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, in 800 cities throughout the world, Backpage ran thousands of listings advertising the sale of vulnerable young people for sex. Reaping a cut off every transaction, the owners of the website raked in millions of dollars. But many of the people in the advertisements were children, as young as 12, and forced into the commercial sex trade through fear, violence and coercion.
In Taking Down Backpage, veteran California prosecutor Maggy Krell tells the story of how she and her team battled against this sex trafficking monolith. Beginning with her early career as a young DA, she shares the evolution of the anti-human trafficking movement. Through a fascinating combination of memoir and legal insight, Krell reveals how she and her team started with the prosecution of street pimps and ultimately ended with the takedown of the largest purveyor of human trafficking in the world. She shares powerful stories of interviews with survivors, sting operations, court cases, and the personal struggles that were necessary to bring Backpage executives to justice. Finally, Krell examines the state of sex trafficking after Backpage and the crucial work that still remains.”
This is a true story written by the prosecutor herself. Nothing can top a first-hand accounting of a case or situation other than being there and involved yourself. In this book, Prosecutor Maggy Krell tells the story of her long and arduous battle within the bounds of the law and the walls of the courtroom. But, she’s not telling about just any random old case that might be interesting or entertaining. This case is about taking down literally the largest sex trafficking ring in the world, Backpage.com.
Backpage was a website that, on the surface, looked like any other website that collects and runs personal ads. It was supposedly like the newspaper’s version of the personals section, publishing ads for things like handyman work, furniture sales, various services and items for sale including actual personal ads where people were looking to meet new people to date. It quickly became obvious that this website was mostly in the business of publishing the personal ads. But not all these ads were just regular personals, they were ads for sexual services. Girls and women of varying ages, some as young as twelve years old, with pictures of them in scantily clad clothing (if you can call it that) and suggestive poses advertising dates and services, quoting prices and providing contact information to schedule a purchase. A purchase, mind you. As if these human beings were material possessions. This is the very essence of sex trafficking.
One must realize the difference between sex trafficking and sex work as a chosen profession. The ones that choose this work are exercising free will. But a large portion of the ads on this site were selling services of those who were not given the choice. These are girls and women that have been kidnapped from their homes and hometowns, smuggled into the country, found as runaways, etc. and then forced into selling their bodies to pay their captors for whatever these morons think these girls owe them for. They are often kept like prisoners in warehouses, basements and homes. They are forced to have sex with people they don’t know and don’t like for money that they don’t get to keep for up to twelve or more hours each day, constantly having “dates” scheduled the whole time. The people that pay money to violate these women are allowed to do anything they wish with them, so long as they have negotiated what both parties would perceive as a proper and agreeable price with the handler or pimp. And that’s the life these ladies are forced to lead. Forced to start doing the sex work, forced to live in the abusive and dangerous hell and forced to do whatever it takes to survive.
Now, you would think if the owners of this website were helping traffick young girls and women for sex and getting money in return, it would be relatively easy to arrest them and shut them down. However, this is not the case.
Within the pages of this book you’ll read about how the owners of Backpage, which I have personally dubbed the BP3 for easy reference when reading this book, operated with impunity under the protection of a general publishing indemnification act called the Communications Decency Act. The BP3, which consisted of James Larkin, Mike Lacey and Carl Ferrer, which basically states that they as publishers are not responsible for the content that is posted on their site nor are they responsible for the activities that stem from said content. So, they can basically let anything get posted on their site (sites, explained in the book) and anything can happen from that and they are just publishers. If I understand the Act correctly it basically means that if you see something on let’s say a social media website and it offends you, under the protection of this Act the owners of that social site cannot be sued or held liable for anything that is posted on the site nor any illegal or offensive activities resulting from any of those posts.
Prosecutor Maggy Krell tells the experience she had in fighting this particular piece of legislation that was being exploited in order to commit horrendous crimes against women and avoid any liability or accountability. She expertly breaks down and through all the legalese that frustrates so many people and explains the events that occurred so clearly that there is no room for confusion. Something I’m sure she did while presenting her case in the courtroom as well.
Krell skillfully tells of overcoming the painstaking obstacles, hurdles, mindsets and ignorance involved when bringing together a case of this magnitude. The pushback from so many sides would have been enough to wear on any prosecutor, any lawyer really, and yet she continues in her fight for justice for these exploited and abused survivors and to get the laws changed so the trafficking of human beings into sexual slavery wouldn’t be so easy and convenient for the bad guys. Ms. Krell also truly realizes the significance of sex crimes against women and the enormous impact such things as being trafficked can have.
Prosecutor Maggy Krell is a rare type of person. She is truly a soldier of justice, speaking for the victims and survivors, helping to tell their stories to the world and tirelessly working for the protection of all crime victims, regardless of their current apparent circumstances or what led them to that situation to begin with. It is clear that she is a compassionate woman with a firm belief in getting justice for those who have been violated in some of the most vile ways imaginable. And what this one woman accomplished by leading the charge against Backpage.com and their owners and publishers is nothing short of heroic and historic.
Anyone who is looking for a little glimpse of reality not only into the world of a prosecutor’s life and work, but also to what the victims and survivors of sex trafficking actually go through. This book is also quite the eye-opener in what lengths some people will go to in order to avoid the law, avoid prison and avoid going broke by continuing to commit these heinous offenses over and over and over again.
This is definitely a true crime book for the true crime lover. Any person who is passionate about stopping sex crimes and abuse towards women and children will find this book quite informative as well as motivating to get involved in the fight to stop human trafficking.
Get your copy at the link below:
Stories of the World’s End
Author: Fran Lewis
This was another short story I chose to read from Blackthorn Books Tours’ “Quick Bite” for December. (For any new readers in my audience, these are short stories instead of full-length novels available for review.) My curiosity was piqued when I read the blurb and saw that it was a short story about the end of the world. I seem to always find doomsday type stories, movies, etc. fun, interesting and exciting but also horrific and terrifying at the same time.
As I started reading this, it’s only about twenty pages, I was thinking it had real potential. And I must state before I give my actual review that I still believe it has great potential. So, at the start of it, I was pleased and eager to turn pages.
The author describes multiple scenarios in which the world’s population has decreased to zero or near zero. Some scenarios have nothing living on the planet. No humans, animals, plants, nothing. Others there are some signs of life but still rather desolate and fairly void of signs of living inhabitants. All of these worlds could be considered a version of Hell on Earth. Lewis describes the emptiness, the loneliness, the profound damage and destruction all around. She can convey emotional traits these worlds bring forth in very vivid ways. The death and destruction, the pain and suffering, the danger and isolation, desperation, sadness and emptiness flooding the reader as the turn the pages of a number of possible futures.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss two particular things that I found somewhat…bothersome, I guess would be a good way to describe the feeling that I started having. Each chapter is only a few pages long. The first issue I had with this short story was how repetitive the writing seemed to be. For example, in one section of the story there are three chapters back-to-back, all describing the exact same kind of world. It seems that the author was trying to give us different points of view through various characters at assorted times in the story. So, let’s say the first chapter (in this set I am talking about) would be a general description of the new world. The next chapter is a more detailed description with causation added. The third would then be the same world being described but from a character’s point of view. Yet, even though we are talking about three different chapters, it was as if the same chapter repeated three times, varying only in vocabulary. Even at only twenty pages this became very tiresome very quickly.
My second observation really had me feeling rather uneasy and uncomfortable. And here’s why:
During the description of each world there is a “soap box” preaching type of feel embedded in what could be a great story. Covid-19 is mentioned multiple times throughout the whole work and whether or not people get vaccinated seems to be a key issue here. It also seems that the writer automatically assumes that whoever is reading this is against or doesn’t believe in things like Covid, the vaccines, global warming/climate change. The way things are worded at many points in the story there is almost a shaming aspect geared toward the people who exercised their right not to get the vaccine. There also seems to be some righteous indignation towards people who decline to conform to the mandates and rules set down as the pandemic hit and throughout its global run. We are given multiple scenarios of the world’s end and they all seem start with people not being vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus and other viruses that would follow. It’s almost as if this author is using this short story as a warning to the reader and implying that this is what will happen if you don’t get vaccinated.
Now, if you are someone that doesn’t have issues with the mask mandates or the vaccines and you wear your mask and got your shots, the kind of thing I just described probably wouldn’t really bother you. You’d probably just find it a little heavy handed on the preaching and a little light in the plot. But, if you are a person that is against the mandatory masking, against places of business or education requiring vaccination or if you don’t believe in or trust the vaccines or you feel that the government has done this on purpose to the population…you may very well likely be offended while reading this story.
I feel that the author has a great base for a fantastic story. Such emotionally vivid descriptions set the stage perfectly for the end of the world or a world after people. Also, this story has enormous potential for the ultimate amount of creepiness and eeriness already rooted with huge gusto in the core of the story. But when the repetitive chapters are combined with the “shame on you” and “this is the fault of the unvaccinated” kind of attitude, it can actually become quite annoying rather quickly. If the preaching had been significantly toned down or, better yet, completely removed this story would have been one hell of an eerie and creepy tale of life beyond mankind. More time and effort could have been spent on developing the story’s imagery and actually building and nourishing the characters’ personality profiles. This would also allow the author to unveil much more intricate descriptions, resulting in the story and its characters having a fuller feel with a lot more body and impact. Unfortunately, we don’t have any idea who is telling the story and when we do meet characters, they are only referred to by letters, such as “S” or “M”.
And one question kept being asked over and over and over again throughout the entire story. In fact, this one question seemed to be on about a third of the pages. “Would you want to live in a world like this?”. That question or some slight variation of it permeated the story from beginning to end. This made it feel almost like you were ten years old again and getting a lecture from your mother about something you did wrong. Again, if this was not so prevalent and so ‘in your face’ the story would have been much better. In my opinion, if the preaching and indignation were removed this story would most certainly be a huge hit amongst those horror lovers that like doomsday end of the world storylines. But as it stands now, it seems to be more like a public service announcement warning of tragedy to come if all people do not conform. That in itself is a little creepy to me. So, I can’t just tell you guys that you’ll love this. I honestly am not sure at all how any random person would respond to this. I would assume some would naturally like it, some naturally wouldn’t, some wouldn’t care about the preachy side of it and some would be incredibly offended. I don’t know which one of those groups any of you as my readers would fall in to. This is one I have to leave up in the air as far as recommendations go. But my rating of the story is still an honest rating. I just can’t say for sure who to recommend this one to.
As an avid reader and participant on the team of Blackthorn Book Tours I chose this novel mostly because of the author and then the summary/blurb cinched it for me. I have read a few of this author’s novels and only one so far wasn’t my sort of thing. So, I figured this was a safe choice and going to be a good novel.
Here’s the blurb:
“Lexi Mazur is a depressed, alcoholic, pill-popper whose only joy has become her reality TV shows, often fantasizing that the people on TV are a part of her world. After her boyfriend Steve leaves her, she fixates on the show Socialites and its star Magnolia Artois, following every facet of the girl’s life on social media in the hopes of befriending and becoming more like her.
But stalking isn’t new to Lexi. She ultimately won over her ex Steve by following and manipulating every minute detail about him so he’d fall for her. In fact, she landed her other ex-boyfriend Jeremy in the same way. Being a pharma rep, she’s used to manipulation to get doctors to buy her drugs, along with the perk of saving pills for herself.
But what happens when the stalker gets stalked?
Recently, Lexi has felt someone watching her: in her apartment in Queens, at her job. At first, she thinks her mind’s playing tricks, but the watcher is behaving just like she would. And soon they begin leaving threatening clues like she starts to do to Magnolia once her obsession grows more dangerous. Is it one of her exes out for revenge? Her only real friend from childhood who she’s always had an unhealthy rivalry? A detective who may have figured her out? The reality star Magnolia trying to turn the tables? Or even someone she might not know?
Lexi learns the only way to beat her stalker is to use her own stalking prowess to outsmart them at their own game. But has she finally met her match?”
And I was right! Now, I must admit that at the beginning I was unsure. There is a lot of content in the first few chapters about one particular character on a reality tv show. I personally cannot stand the scripted drama of reality tv so I was a little put off at the start. I almost decided to forgo the rest of the novel, thinking that if it was only about this chick’s obsession with this awful reality show and its horrible cast I could not bear to read a full novel of that.
Luckily for me, I stuck with it and it turned out that the reality show stuff was more of a lead in and background plot which then left plenty of room for the creations of Goldberg that I tend to enjoy so much.
This novel was actual quite a thrill to read and truly had me going back and forth on what I thought would happen next or who would be involved. Quite the page turner and eerie, creepy surprises around every corner. I have to say this was one of those novels that after the first few chapters I could barely set it down. The writing of the main character is superb and beyond capable of creating a real sense of who this gal is. The unsettling feeling of someone watching you or following you is completely palpable in this literary creation.
For the suspense thriller and adrenaline junkies, this one’s for you!
About the Author
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE DESIRE CARD, THE MENTOR, and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second book in the Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming in 2020, along with his first Sci-Fi novel ORANGE CITY.
His new endeavor will be as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe Press and Fringe Digital, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box.
His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests.
After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City.
Follow him at:
Website – leematthewgoldberg.com
FB – https://www.facebook.com/leemgol
IG – https://www.instagram.com/leematthewgoldberg/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/LeeMatthewG
Two Turtle Doves
Blackthorn Book Tours has a wonderful new “Quick Bite” tour. These are shorter stories than the normal novels we get to choose from. I happen to really dig short stories and novellas so I jumped at this opportunity. It’s nice to have a short story to read on a lunch break or waiting at the airport, that kind of thing. Just a little quick retreat and escape from the crazy hustle and bustle of day to day living in these modern times. Everyone is so go, go, go. So surely at only about five thousand words (around nineteen pages) anyone could fit this in for a reader’s rapid retreat.
Here is the blurb that made me request the book:
“Suicidal teenager Rich Anthony was on his way to step in front of an express train when he spots a battered acoustic guitar left outside an Oxfam shop. Intrigued, Rich postpones his plans, takes the guitar home and teaches himself to play.
What happens next changes his life.”
I’m not going to say anything else really about the actual story itself. I want you all to read it. It was fantastic!
First of all, I read this in less than twenty minutes. Such a quick read. Part of that is because the plot is constantly moving forward at an intriguing pace. Plus, this is a story that surrounds only a few characters so you aren’t trying to figure out who did what with whom and when and why, always having to jog your memory thinking to yourself ‘was that the guy that was in the story a few chapters back? What was his deal again?, making you go backwards in the story instead of forward and thereby disrupting the flow of the imagination. Not happening in this short story. The limited character structure helps with keeping their individual personalities straight and is a perfect way to continually establish a timeline, since you are only dealing with just a few people.
I actually liked this story enough I read it twice. The author uses the most wonderful descriptions with a very impactful vocabulary to create specific images in the mind of the reader. Even though it is a short story, the amount of information presented is staggering but entertaining. Everything is immaculately detailed, direct, precise and expertly constructed to beckon the reader to press on to the end and find out what happens.
The one thing I enjoyed most about this story is the idea of karma worked into the plot line. Karma is supposed to be quite fickle at times but always there somewhere. Here we have a front row seat to the unfolding of true karmic retribution and the inevitable cosmic balance of the universe. Truly a tantalizing tale. A must read for horror, suspense and thriller lovers. An absolute must have!!!
From The Author:
I grew up in a small market town in rural Herefordshire before joining the Royal Navy. After 22 years in the submarine service and having travelled extensively, I now live and write in rural Worcestershire.
I have written two novels, Fat Man Blues and Near Death, and a bunch of short stories and poems.
My stories reflect my life-long fascination with the dark underbelly of American culture; be it tales of the Wild West, the simmering menace of the Deep South, the poetry of Charles Bukowski, or Langston Hughes, the writing of Andrew Vachss and John Steinbeck, or the music of Charley Patton, Son House, Johnny Cash, or Tom Waits.
The Family Man
Within just a few pages the story starts to grab you. The next thing you know, you are side by side with a determined detective trying to unravel a complicated case. At first it seems as though the case will end up with so many others in the Cold Case files, but then things start to change. Interviews provide answers. And more questions. Questions produce leads. Leads form an investigation, pulling you down a path of personal, psychological and diabolical secrets, lies and atrocities that, in their ripple effect, happen to leave just the kind of clues that our detective will need to follow to solve her case.
This was an excellent novel to read. It was gripping but highly detailed and carefully woven together. This means that the reader really needs to be able to pay attention (at least for me). This would not have been a novel I could read while reading another fully engaging story. This story was so attentively entwined that every little detail counts for a full understanding of the story at its real value. If you just breeze through it, yeah, you’ll still probably enjoy it. But if you really take the time to read it you could actually almost escape into the story and characters and experience the investigation and the investigator’s life, up close and personal.
For anyone who loves crime stories, especially murder mysteries, this is right up your alley. At an average length it’s not a book that’s going to take months of time investment and with some kind of important detail of piece of information coming at you at a very constant pace, this book reads fairly quickly.
There were certainly parts that had me more enthralled than others but the whole novel was interesting and captivating. And I thought it was an excellent and refreshing take on the murder mystery plot line. So, this was definitely worth the read. I also have a feeling that if I were to read it again I would catch even more detail, experience, links, emotion and like it just that much more. It seems to me that this could very well be the kind of novel that even though you know the ending, you can still read it again and be entertained.
Author: Chris Coppel
This was yet another fascinating novel I had the opportunity to sign up to review with the good folks at Blackthorn Book Tours. I wasn’t exactly sure how this was going to go and whether or not I was going to like the story, but as it turned out I enjoyed it very much and got through it quite quickly.
In this tale we are traveling alongside a young man named David Easton. David is a very sad and lonely guy. He feels like nothing in his life is, can or will ever go right. Everything finally overwhelms him and he decides to take his life and his fate in that life into his very own hands.
David pulls as much money together as he can and books himself a one-way ticket on the most luxurious ocean liner afloat in the world, the Oceanis. He plans to spoil himself, making use of every opportunity, event and amenity available on the ship and to fully enjoy himself. But at some point during the trip, David plans on a very dramatic suicide fit for the movie screen.
Taking a cue from Leonardo DiCaprio, David is going to hoist himself up on the railing at the back of the ship and, to add his own special flair, planned to take a swan dive off the ship’s fantail and smash into the cold Atlantic where he would most certainly die.
But things don’t go as he had planned. They never do. Then strange things start to happen aboard this luxury ocean liner. Things that not only strike fear and confusion into those that face them but also things that cause intrigue and wonderment and a weird kind of peace, in a way. And because of things like meeting new people, seeing and experiencing new things and a massive amount of curiosity David will have to choose between getting answers to his very serious questions about the ship or staying his course and following through with his suicide.
I really enjoyed this novel. I was extremely intrigued and interested to see where the author would go with the story each time something new happened. It also felt like I was almost right there in the story, feeling the same sense of danger or relief, feeling the same intense nervousness when a character is investigating around dark corners and the like. The book was well written, easy to read, easy to follow and for me it was a very fresh story line because I haven’t ever read anything like this before. I thought the characters were fascinating people. The author really puts in time to get the reader invested for the full haul of the book, which is 256 pages. I know for some that may sound like a lot, even for me it’s a little daunting to think about however, once you start reading, you get so engrossed in what’s going on that you have easily zipped through fifty or sixty pages without even realizing it.
I think those who like the mysterious, psychological thrillers and content like that will really get a lot of enjoyment out of this book. It’s certainly got the potential for anyone to like it. I’d say at least give it a try. I think you’ll find that it is worth the time to read it.
This was a novel I opted to read from the Blackthorn Book Tour folks. I was glad I chose this book. If there was ever a reason to find an old abandoned mental asylum creepy enough to want to stay away from it, this book gives that reason. This novel combines not only urban exploration and tales of urban legends, but also adds a very human element to such subjects in a most intriguing and enlightening way.
In this tale we have an average man in Kyle Hampton who is carrying an above average amount of weight on his shoulders for all kinds of things, some even stemming back to his childhood; a childhood spent at the Rose Hill Asylum in Pennsylvania. Although he has tried to forget about everything having to do with the asylum after being adopted there is one thing he cannot rid himself of. Thoughts of his little brother. The little brother he had to leave behind when he was adopted.
But as we all know, life goes on and Kyle eventually grows up and lives a normal life. He has a girl, a new baby, a job that pays but not as much as he would like (but where is that not the case anymore) and he has a home. A real home with a real family, as so many orphans put it. Kyle has a very close friend named Randy and although Randy is his bud, he seems to push Kyle more towards doing what is fun and exciting rather than what is sensible and right.
That’s all good and fine for a while but eventually things become a little complicated for Kyle and he has to figure things out before it all goes way too far.
I found this to be a really entertaining novel that kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat. I loved the way it was written as it switches back and forth between characters’ points of view. This keeps the pace going and keeps you wanting to turn pages. I got through this novel fairly quickly and even a few weeks later this tale is still on my mind. It’s the kind of thriller that sticks with you---because it is something that could really happen.
A fantastical thrill ride for any psychological horror fans!
About the Author
With a passion for writing, Award winning author Tamera Lawrence likes to entertain readers with edgy thrillers and mysteries. As a mother of six, Tamera draws on personal experiences to bring to life interesting characters set in today’s complex world. She loves meeting fans and writes book reviews upon request.
Tamera also likes to play softball and clang out a tune or two on the piano.
Other books include: THE POND, GHOSTS OF MAYFLOWER: A PENNHURST HAUNTING & PENNHURST GHOSTS OF MAYFLOWER 11
A Short Story by Maria DeBlassie
The opportunity to read this short story came my way and I have to be honest, I jumped at it just because of the title. Hungry Business just sounds like a horror story, doesn’t it? I thought so, which is why I decided to read this story. At such a short length of twelve to fifteen pages, this is an easy, quick read for those that just want a little taste of horror before going back to work or retiring to bed.
The only things I am willing to tell you in detail about this tale is that it involves a vicious contagion, intermingling of the infected and healthy and wait what’s this---dating in such a world. Yes, dating. I know, I am not a fan of romance in horror (or war stories, just to be completely honest, it always feels like they chose to ruin a perfectly good horror or war movie/story with a sappy love story, but I’m getting side tracked).
I didn’t know when I started reading it that there would be anything about dating or relationships in there but it didn’t dissuade me from continuing to read on when I came upon the topic. I was exceptionally surprised and pleased at how skillfully the author laced all the elements of the story together. And the dating is an essential piece to this story. But it’s not anything like what I am used to when romance is thrown in so, it was a refreshing use of an age-old story topic.
I also felt that while this story is obviously fiction, it read as somewhat metaphorical as well. I personally enjoyed this as it allows for the reader to explore various interpretations in their own mind and decide what the story means in their eyes. Conversely, if the reader does not go the route of analyzing the metaphorical aspect, it is still a superb tale of horror, woe and survival. I was also shocked at the amount of information DeBlassie was able to pour into only about fifteen pages. Every single page is essential to the tale and this, in my opinion, is what allows the story to progress so quickly and keep the reader enthralled at the same time. I think any horror lover would like this tantalizing tidbit for a quick horror snack.
Evil Eye: A Slasher Story
I jumped at the chance to read this when I saw it. I figured it would be extremely interesting to read about the cases the deputy coroner had worked and how she dealt with that kind of job, etc. And it turned out to be that, sort of.
Don’t get me wrong, the author talks about cases she worked all through the book. But it’s more like she grazes over the case, the decedent and the details and fills the pages with her own personal faiths and beliefs.
Now, believe me, these stories could have been a lot more detailed. But you have to remember this is the deputy coroner’s diary. She’s not telling a story per se. This is a collection of her thoughts and feelings expressed in a stream of consciousness writing style. And while the true crime material was extremely interesting, it was overshadowed and lost in the text because of three things in my opinion.
I received a hard copy of this book. Beautifully bound and covered with a fantastic image and an easy-to-read title. But then I opened the book and I immediately saw that it had been printed in double line spacing format. This is the kind of spacing you use when you are printing a draft that is going to be proofread or edited because it leaves a lot of space for the various people to jot down notes. Unfortunately, it seems that this particular part of the writing process was never done. This book was riddled with grammatical errors. Things like no punctuation being used at the end of a paragraph or the lack of using commas or semicolons. Words are missing from sentences a lot. Toward the end of the book the author is purposely evasive and frankly, those chapters just don’t seem to make much sense. The way the stories are grouped together makes no sense. Sometimes there isn’t even a skipped line to let you know it’s a new story. No indents. It truly seems like she typed this up day by day and then just sent it to be published. And you can tell by the hardback cover and paper that a lot was invested in this venture. But it wouldn’t have taken anything to just click the spell check/grammar check option, and that would have solved a lot of the complaints I have.
The worst part is that all that kind of stuff takes away from the material of the book, it’s content and literary value. Not to mention that it becomes somewhat frustrating and annoying for the reader. Being ultra-repetitive is a good way to annoy your readers as well. I understand that this is a woman’s diary. Her own personal private thoughts. Nothing is really date stamped, it’s just the title of a chapter and then the content of said chapter. Which is not what I am meaning really when I talk about being repetitive. There was one theme other than death that was continuously part of the book. And that was religion. God. Not only did she mention God over and over, she kept bringing up ghosts, spirits, psychics and mediums. It seemed to be on almost every page. By the end, reading the last few chapters felt like I was at church getting preached at. I’m not a fan of that kind of feeling. And it’s not that I don’t believe her claims of paranormal activity. That’s not it at all. I just happen to think that she has way more than the average believer has in the quantity of examples of this activity. So, that leads me to question the validity of all her claims. As so often is the case, she really has no proof that these paranormal or spiritual interactions ever took place.
Another thing that I found interesting was her profound belief in her religion and things coming from “the other side” even though she’s a medical professional and as such usually thought to believe heavily on scientific data. Yet in her expression of her private thoughts, this does not seem to be the case. In fact, she seems to focus very heavily on things that not only cannot be proven but also many things that probably have some kind of rational explanation. Again, I’m not saying these things did not happen. I am only saying that it could be possible some of these “spiritual encounters” could be rationally explained.
And yet, I was willing to forgive all of that and continue to read the book with an open mind. But then came the sarcastic comments and complaints about the deceased. Suddenly she would go from a caring and compassionate community healthcare servant into a hardened and cold medical professional that never sees PEOPLE, only injuries, sickness and death. It was as if the dark, gruesome and unattractive side of the profession were finally outed and put right in your face.
But you have to understand, the people that choose these professions, they see the worst of what humanity has to offer. How would you expect someone deal with that and do their job effectively at the same time without getting burned out or overwhelmed by the emotional roller coaster they endure? A lot of people turn to comedy and a kind of detached coldness in order to deal with the horrors they see every day. It’s hard for people to understand that without having been in that position themselves. I have a small amount of insight as my father was a police officer and I grew up around all facets of law enforcement and the judicial system.
It’s hard for these professionals to harbor the burden of the terrors that all manners of society are capable of. It’s difficult to not let emotions get involved and it’s hard to not get a jaded view of the world. Don’t discount the coping mechanisms that people employ to maintain their sanity and some semblance of a normal life when, let’s face it, dealing with death every day isn’t the norm. That is a specialized area that only certain types of people can handle working in.
This book allows a look into the mind of the Deputy Coroner. It’s not really about the cases but instead, it’s about how those cases affect the coroner. It also shows that as someone in such a position they don’t always know how things end. That’s hard to handle too.
It’s an interesting look into the thoughts of a coroner but it’s not for those who are really sensitive about death. If you can’t handle the lighter side of things being pointed out in a time of heart wrenching seriousness, then you may not like this read. However, if you are looking for an honest expression of what one person experienced, then you would definitely find this an interesting book. If you do read this, allow the material to sink in for a little bit before rendering judgement. Allow time for processing of what you are actually reading. This is not a fiction novel. This is truth as one deputy coroner sees it. Remember, she’s doing a job almost nobody wants to do. Might be worthwhile to give her some of your time and respect.