Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
Ever since I read Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood", I became a huge fan of true crime books. At one time I owned so many print versions that I probably would have been arrested if law enforcement ever raided my house! There was a time when I could name just about every known serial killer AND describe his "signature". I always thought I'd be a great help to the detectives if I was somehow involved - innocently, of course - in a murder case. Guess what? It didn't happen like that. When my husband was shot and killed in a home invasion robbery, I was literally PARALYZED from shock and trauma for over a decade! There was quite a while where I had to lay off my "guilty pleasure" of reading every true crime book published, although not completely. When I could handle it, I returned to find that books in this genre had lost much of the in-depth research and expert writing that veteran authors such as Ann Rule and Gregg Olsen had become famous for, thereby shaping the standards for the genre. But, recently, Ann Rule's recent "True Crime Files" compilations had become out-dated, rehashed blips on the "radar screen" which barely qualify as real stories. She stopped delivering the fantastic writing quality of her earlier works and seemed to shy away from recent "millennium" crimes as if she doesn't want to bother with the requisite research. Instead, she's giving us offenses from the 1960s and 1970s BEFORE the advent of forensics and DNA. I'd just about given up on ever enjoying a true crime book again when I came across "Shattered". Kathryn Casey has picked up the baton dropped by Rule in this 1999 account of a murder in Texas. I thoroughly enjoyed this book just as much as I used to with Ann Rule's early works. It is well-researched, expertly written, and compelling. Narrator Coleen Marlo complements the book perfectly. I will be buying more of Ms. Casey's works in the future.
I actually enjoyed this book after a spate of recent true crime books which were absolutely awful. Even veteran crime writer Ann Rule has lost her "mojo" after decades of dominating this genre. In this book you get good writing, research and narration - the must-have "triple crown" in audiobooks. Well worth the price of admission.
As a former record industry exec in rap and hip-hop, I give Parker kudos for his indepth account of the hip-hop nation - from the perspective of a police detective. However, many of his theories are a bit overly dramatic, especially about the deaths of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. Parker was THISCLOSE to solving Biggie's murder but chose to focus on the more colorful alleged "East Coast-West Coast rap feud". The real motive, known by industry insiders, isn't as interesting as the tale Parker relates. Parker just didn't interview the right people. (The REAL "coastal feud" had less to with Death Row and Bad Boy than the lack of cooperation between the LAPD and NYPD.) This is a great story about his days as the first "hip-hop cop" with the NYPD, tempered by Parker's repeated chest-pounding about being the ONLY "go-to" person for "hip-hop crime" in law enforcement. He makes himself sound like some hip-hop superhero ("And that's where I come in!" proclaims Parker). Parker may know more than the average police officer about hip-hop "crime" but a lot less than those of us who are really in it. There's always been a link between rappers and gang members/drug dealers. Most of these kids are from the 'hood - it's hard to break old ties, but no RICO-style conspiracy exists. At least not to the extent that Parker claims, otherwise other hip-hop meccas like Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, and St. Louis would need "hip-hop crime intel units". Narrator Richard Allen is the perfect choice for this book. He's voice is mesmerizing, elevating what could be an otherwise sordid ghetto tale to a whole 'nother level. My biggest complaint is the recording quality of this book. The sound drops out in places with so much reverb that the narrator sounding as if he's in the bathroom. But, overall, this is a very enlightening and entertaining read for people who aren't in the music biz.
I first read "In Cold Blood" when it first came out in 1966, when I was just a kid growing up in a dusty little prairie farming town not very different from Holcombe, Kansas. At the time, I took Capote's rendition of the lives of the Clutter family for granted -- it was all I knew. Didn't everyone live like that?
I've since learned different, of course. Not only does 'everyone' not live like that, but hardly anyone does, or not anymore, anyway. Just as 'To Kill A Mockingbird' by Truman Capote's friend Harper Lee defined a certain kind of life in the south, just as did 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' by Betty Smith define life in Brooklyn, so Capote's 'In Cold Blood' defines the essence of prairie life in the 1950's. For that reason alone, it's an American classic.
Since then, I reread the book a couple of times, just because I became a dedicated fan of Capote's writing (if not of his lifestyle). But never has the brilliance of his writing come home to me as it did, in listening to Scott Brick reading it. The book and narration constitute a masterwork, by any standard. Yes, Capote perfectly captured the rhythm of life in rural Kansas, but it seems to me he was just as adept at getting inside the minds of the ruthless killers. I haven't any standard to measure that, of course, but the killers are just as believable as were the Clutter family, their traipse through Mexico and back again just as real.
This is an audiobook I will listen to again and again -- honestly, I might not read it again, but listen again? Absolutely. So many nuances jump out at you when you're listening, little details your eye might skim over when you're reading it. What's really interesting is how scary this book is, even though there's very little gore, in the purest sense. Today we're bombarded with 'serial killer' books, with detailed descriptions of the horrors they perpetrate on their victims. You won't find that here, and yet the horror comes through with an even greater impact.
This is a brilliant book, genius-class, for sure. And the narration couldn't possibly be better. This book belongs in everyone's home library. Don't miss it.