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Publisher's Summary

Real Life Evil is the first book in a compelling series of true-crime short stories for listeners who don't have time for a full-length novel.

"Hiding in Plain Sight" is the chilling account of serial killer Jack Unterweger, one of the most clever, manipulative predators of the 20th century...and the most dangerous.

"A Message from the Grave" examines the events surrounding the unsolved Gilgo Beach murders, a case which would spawn the largest murder investigation in Long Island, New York's history as an elusive serial killer continues to elude authorities.

©2013, 2017 Kim Cresswell (P)2017 Kim Cresswell

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Will we learn the lessons?

I listened to this book a while ago and was dismayed I had not written a review. I recently listened to The Big Book of Serial Killers, which is a great reference book, but more of a recitation of facts. Ms. Cresswell’s book is very different, taking just two crimes and investigating them in depth. Wanting to correct my oversight, I did a quick relisten.

I wasn’t familiar with either case in the book which made the read more interesting. Ms. Cresswell’s descriptions allowed me to easily envision the crimes being committed. Also, by extension, the victims were more real – more than just a number or a body. She also provides insight into the moments where these perpetrators could have been caught earlier, if only the police had been in possession of the facts. “Hiding in Plain Sight” the case of Jack Unterweger, was of particular note because the collateral damages wasn’t just the dead, but the living as well. His ex-girlfriend has to live with the horrific realization she knew more than she had initially believed and she had supported him long after she should have.

He deserved his ultimate end.

“A Message from the Grave” was also very interesting in that it was a story I was not familiar with. The note I made was: ‘how many bodies do you have to find before you take things seriously?’ The Gilgo Beach murders is a classic case where law enforcement has fallen far short. Now, I’m not saying that catching a serial killer is easy – far from it. What I am suggesting is that police need to look beyond the profession or lifestyle of the victim and make a greater effort to investigate crimes.

Over and over again, in both stories, the victims turned out to have been marginalized in life and, unfortunately, also in death. In fact, with the Gilgo Beach murders, it was only when a ‘respectable’ young woman went missing that any real searching was done. And when her body was finally discovered? Ridiculous assumptions that don’t pass even the simplest of sniff tests.

Am I biased? You bet. I live near Vancouver and for years and years and years, there were rumours swirling among sex workers in the city that something bad was happening. Women were disappearing. There was a place just out of the city where women were taken and questionable things happened there.

Many sex workers are reluctant to go to the police. Current laws on prostitution in Canada, introduced in 2014, make it illegal to purchase sexual services but legal to sell them. That is a quagmire, but at least the sex workers can no longer be charged for doing what they need to do to survive. And, let’s be honest, there will always be men (or mostly men) willing to risk being arrested in order to purchase sexual services.

Despite the laws back in the 1990s, some brave women did approach the Vancouver Police Department. So did the families of missing women. The women and families were systematically dismissed.

She’s just gone home.
She’s just left town.
She’s just abandoned you.
She’ll be back.
She’ll turn up.

Excuses after excuses. No one at the VDP took the disappearances seriously. These women were sex workers and drug addicts…the marginalized. It was easy for the police to dismiss the concerns because occasionally the women had just run away or it had been later discovered they had died of a drug overdose.

From Wikipedia:

In December 2007, [Robert] Pickton was sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 25 years – the longest sentence then available for murder under Canadian law.

During the trial's first day of jury evidence, January 22, 2007, the Crown stated that Pickton had confessed to 49 murders to an undercover agent from the Office of Inspector General, who was posing as a cellmate. The Crown reported that Pickton told the officer that he wanted to kill another woman to make it an even 50, and that he was caught because he was "sloppy".


Even now, as I read those ‘facts’ I am nauseous. 49 women. Some of whom were listed as missing. Some of whom no one had noticed had simply fallen off the face of the planet. But they were daughters, mothers, sisters, and aunts. Canada now has a Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls commission listening to the stories of families about those who were killed and those who have vanished. More than 1,200 women and girls in Canada since 1980. It is a Canadian tragedy. I hope we have learned from this, although there are still stories that crop up in the media about family members who are belittled and their beloved ridiculed when they try to report the women missing. We’ve come a long way, but there is still a huge bias against these marginalized women.

How does this connect to Gilgo Beach? Because it needs to be asked – how many women need to die? (There was one man and one infant as well.) Yes, forensic evidence has been lost to time and Superstorm Sandy, but this strip of land in Long Island needs to be searched inch by inch to get a true picture of how many women have been dumped there – many of those found have been sex workers and drug addicts. The marginalized.

We owe these women justice. Better yet, let’s arrest the killer (or killers) and prevent further tragic and unnecessary deaths. Let’s treat these women with respect instead of relegating them to the margins of society.

Jason Fella was the perfect narrator for this book. He had good pacing and inflection. He carried me through the facts without making them dry.

If you are looking for stories about serial killers who aren’t famous, this is a good book. Quick, but thorough and with lessons that we as a society should learn from.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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This hits hard!

Don’t be fooled by the shortness of this story. It will gut punch you. Then you’ll realize it was the real deal. Not fiction! True crime! Yikes! Scary stuff!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Short and not so sweet listen!

I enjoyed listening to this book, though, it’s quite gruesome at times....to be expected given the subject matter. It’s well written, short and to the point, and clear the author did her homework. The narration is very good, too. I received a review copy at my request and voluntarily reviewed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Interesting cases

I enjoyed hearing about these cases. I saw an episode of People Investigates on The Long Island Killer, so I didn't hear anything I didn't already know. Her research seems thorough. If you want to hear a story that states just the facts, this book is for you. The narration was professional and the narrator had a pleasant voice.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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An easy listen on a disturbing subject

I enjoy these type of books. The narrator was a perfect choice. A good listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Listeners will be fascinated and apalled equally.

The details are in the subtitle. This is a True Crime Quickie. This Audiobook is only 52 minutes long and can easily be listened to during a person's commute to work or even on your lunch hour. Well...maybe not during your lunch hour since you might just lose your appetite.

There are two stories about serial killers contained in this audiobook, one I had never heard of before and one that I had.

The first story details the crimes of Jack Unterweger whose crimes took place in Europe during the time that everyone in North America was fixated on the OJ murder trial. This man, Jack Unterweger was a true sicko and listeners will be shocked at the failure of the justice system in his case. It is actually fascinating and well written.

The second serial killer highlighted in this audiobook is possibly scarier than the first one. Why? He (or she - but statistically probably a he) has never been caught. This is about the Gilgo Beach Murders, also known as the "Long Island Killer."

This audiobook will both fascinate and apal reads in equal measure. Be forewarned that this book is not for the faint of heart.

I rate this audiobook as 4 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐. The book itself deserves a 5 Star rating, however, the reason I did not give this a five star rating has to do with the narration. It was good, but I believe it could have been better. When detailing the deaths of the women involved, the narrator's voice was flat. It did not seem to radiate the empathy one would expect to hear.

With that said, I do recommend this book to anyone interested in true crime and in serial killers in general.

*Thank you to the author for providing me with a free copy of this Audiobook.*

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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makes you stop and think

this book is very informative and full of facts. it makes you stop and think about the people that you have contact with. I am always interested in serial killers and how their minds work. I was unaware of the number of serial killers that walk around among normal people and never get caught.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Awesome Quick True Crime

This is a audiobook for true crime book lovers that don't have the time to listen or read a full length book. This first book centers on two stories, the first being, "Hiding in Plain Sight" that focuses serial killer Jack Unterweger and his most dangerous but clever, simplistic methodology to lure and kill his prey. The second, "A Message From the Grave", still haunts Long Island New York, it is the Gilgo Beach murders in which they still to this day have not caught the person responsible. Both stories are told very well and with the right amount of detail, book narrator Jason Fella keeps it professional but pleasing with a wonderful voice for these stories there is a creep factor but one that is supposed to be there not one that is added to spook you. The crime scene details and other technical aspects are explained well so everyone can understand. This is really a outstanding quick book for the true crime lover in your life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Well written true stories--interesting

I loved this book for how well-written it was, but the narrator was a little monotone. A a result it was hard to distinguish stories.

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Informative

Would you listen to Real Life Evil again? Why?

Yes. In case I missed some detail

What does Jason Fella bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His voice adds to the eerieness of the crimes.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. You need time between stories to process all the information.

Any additional comments?

Really enjoyed it.