As the leader and self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, a sect of Mormonism based in isolated southern Utah, Warren Jeffs held sway over thousands of followers for nearly a decade. His rule was utterly tyrannical. In addition to coercing young girls into polygamous marriages with older men, Jeffs reputedly took scores of wives, many of whom were his father's widows. Television, radio, and newspapers were shunned, creating a hidden community where polygamy was prized above all else.
But in 2007, after a two-year manhunt that landed him on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List, Jeffs's reign was forcefully ended. He was convicted of rape as an accomplice for his role in arranging a marriage between a fourteen-year-old girl and her nineteen-year-old first cousin.
In When Men Become Gods, Edgar Award nominee Stephen Singular traces Jeffs's rise to power and the concerted effort that led to his downfall. It was a movement championed by law enforcement, private investigators, the Feds, and perhaps most vocal of all, a group of former polygamous wives seeking to liberate young women from the arranged marriages they'd once endured. The book offers new revelations into a nearly impenetrable enclave---a place of nineteenth-century attire, inbreeding, and eerie seclusion---providing readers with a rare glimpse into a tradition that's almost a century old, but that has only now been exposed.
Mass violence committed by young people is now an epidemic. In the first fourteen school days of 2014, there were seven school shootings, compared to twenty-eight school shootings in all of 2013. The reasons behind this escalating violence, and the cultural forces that have impugned a generation, is the subject of the important new book The Spiral Notebook.
New York Times-bestselling author Stephen Singular has often examined violence in America in his critically-acclaimed books. Here he has teamed with his wife Joyce for their most important work yet — one that investigates why America keeps producing twenty-something mass killers. Their reporting has produced the most comprehensive look at the Aurora shooting yet and draws upon the one group left out of the discussion of violence in America: the twenty-somethings themselves.
While following the legal proceedings in the Aurora shooting, The Spiral Notebook is full of interviews with Generation Z, a group dogged by big pharma and anti-depressants and ADHD drugs, by a doomsday/apocalyptic mentality present since birth, and by an entertainment industry that has turned violence into parlor games.
Provocative and eye-opening, The Spiral Notebook is a glimpse into the forces that are shaping the future of American youth, an entire generation bathed in the violence committed by their peers.
In Olathe, Kansas, a balding, pudgy father of four sits in prison convicted on three counts of homicide -- two of capital murder -- and suspected in at least five other disappearances. During the last half of the 1990s, John Robinson exploited the Internet's active world of sadomasochism with horrific results. By haunting chat rooms, he pinpointed vulnerable women who were looking for romance and stalked them on-line, nefariously convincing them of his maturity, sensitivity, and financial stability. He seemed like the perfect man. He enticed these women with offers of a solid relationship and a lucrative job, persuading them to move to his hometown. Once they arrived in Kansas, the women invariably disappeared.
After a dramatic trial and days of intense jury deliberation, Robinson now faces the death penalty. Disturbing as his crimes may be, what's most alarming is how he selected and lured his victims and how willingly they responded. John Robinson expanded the hunting ground, the techniques, and the technology of the sexual predator. He is the world's first-known Internet serial killer.
Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and the coauthors of Anyone You Want Me to Be have struggled to unravel the enigma that is John Robinson. They reveal what can go wrong in a world where relationships are devoid of physical contact, showing how easily mainstream Americans can be drawn into the dark underground of cybercrime. The Internet has drastically expanded the realm of fantasy -- from the limited confines of physical reality to the worldwide stage of virtual reality -- and anyone can become involved in an on-line seduction. Erotic fantasies, which were once socially off-limits and extremely private, are now instantly accessible. This rapidly growing community masks a sinister truth: With only a computer, an Internet connection, and a knack for creativity, criminals have the power to reach millions of unsuspecting victims while remaining in complete control of their own -- often false -- image. John Robinson was a true innovator in this variety of crime. Through interviews with law enforcement specialists, Web experts, and others, John Douglas and Stephen Singular illustrate, with this case, a much larger -- and more frightening -- pattern of Internet sex and violence.
As technology proliferates in the twenty-first century, so do opportunities for enterprising criminals like John Robinson. No one is better equipped than John Douglas and Stephen Singular to expose the underworld of the Internet and to warn people about the dangers of cyberspace. A cautionary and educational tale about being wary of strangers and false intimacy, Anyone You Want Me to Be is also a terrifying, high-tech story of crime and punishment.
The self-named BTK (for Bind, Torture, Kill) had terrorized Wichita for thirty-one years, not only with his brutal, sexually motivated crimes, but also through his taunting, elusive communications with the media and law enforcement. In 1974, BTK committed his first murders -- torturing and strangling four members of the Otero family -- and wrote the police an audacious letter declaring his responsibility for the Oteros' deaths and labeling himself, for the first time, BTK. Thus he established a pattern -- stalking and killing a series of ten victims, then bragging and claiming ownership of his crimes -- that ended in 1991 but left law enforcement confounded and the public with deeply troubling memories. Until, that is, he resurfaced in 2004 with another string of letters that would finally lead to his arrest.
Drawing from extensive interviews with Rader's pastor, congregation, detectives, and psychologists who worked the case, and from his unnervingly de-tailed thirty-two-hour confession, bestselling author Stephen Singular delves into the disturbing life and crimes of BTK to explore fully -- for the first time -- the most dangerous and complex serial killer of our generation and the man who embodied, at once, astonishing extremes of normality and abnormality.
In Unholy Messenger, Singular recounts the year prior to Rader's arrest, in which the BTK killer reemerged, and the aftermath. Woven throughout are the details of his crimes, elaborate schemes, and bids for public attention, and the wrenching impact his deception had on his family, church, and heartland community.
The result is a chilling story of a man considered a "spiritual leader" by his pastor and congregation, who turned out to be the devil next door. More than just true crime, Unholy Messenger is a powerful, thoroughly engrossing examination of the intersection between good and evil, and of the psychology and spirituality of a killer in whom faith and bloodshed converged.
It isn't just that he holds the NFL record for catches in a single game (twenty) or that he's the most feared wide receiver in the game. It's also his penchant for unique self-expression -- spiking the ball on the midfield Texas lone star in front of a hostile Dallas Cowboy crowd, pulling a Sharpie from his sock to sign a game ball after a touchdown, and dancing with a cheerleader's pom-poms after another TD. Never politically correct and always controversial and colorful on and off the field, Terrell Owens has transformed himself into "TO," the outrageous gridiron personality who has rocked the entire NFL and the sports landscape. But Owens is more than touchdowns, dancing, and celebrations. In this wickedly insightful book, he's full of sharp-eyed observations on the contentious, demanding, insane phenomenon that is pro football.
In Catch This! Owens takes readers back to his hardscrabble childhood in rural Alabama, where he was raised by a stern grandmother and loving mother. By the time he won an athletic scholarship for football at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, the once small, bullied boy had transformed himself into a very large man with a super body and an iron will to succeed. He takes us behind his apprenticeship to -- and eventual eclipsing of -- the legendary 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice. He pulls no punches when it comes to his extremely public fight with San Francisco coach Steve Mariucci -- a relationship so sour that they didn't speak at all during the crucial final weeks of the 2001 season. And, finally, he lets loose on the free agent scandal that shook the NFL in 2004 -- and reveals the truth behind the NFL's attempt to deny him free agency, his fraudulent trade to the Baltimore Ravens, and his ultimate happy landing with the Philadelphia Eagles.
For those who think they know both Terrell Owens and TO, catch this story.
In 2013, after a long fall from grace, Dr. William Styler and his wife, Nancy, relocated to Aspen to reinvent themselves. They'd lived the high life before a misguided lawsuit left them near poverty, and Nancy Pfister was their answered prayer. She took them in, gave them a place to live, and allowed them to launch their new spa business. Everything seemed perfect until Pfister turned on them, making increasingly irrational demands and threatening to throw them out on the street.
When Nancy was found beaten to death in her own home, the Stylers and Carpenter were all under suspicion for the gruesome murder. But in this close-knit, wealthytown set on keeping its reputation and secrets safe from the public eye, the police struggled to solve the mystery of what really happened.
Richard Kuklinski was Sammy the Bull Gravano's partner in the killing of Paul Castellano, then head of the Gambino crime family, at Sparks Steakhouse. Mob boss John Gotti hired him to torture and kill the neighbor who accidentally ran over his child. For an additional price, Kuklinski would make his victims suffer; he conducted this sadistic business with coldhearted intensity and shocking efficiency, never disappointing his customers. By his own estimate, he killed over two hundred men, taking enormous pride in his variety and ferocity of technique.
This trail of murder lasted over thirty years and took Kuklinski all over America and to the far corners of the earth, Brazil, Africa, and Europe. Along the way, he married, had three children, and put them through Catholic school. His daughter's medical condition meant regular stays in children's hospitals, where Kuklinski was remembered, not as a gangster, but as an affectionate father, extremely kind to children. Each Christmas found the Kuklinski home festooned in colorful lights; each summer was a succession of block parties.
His family never suspected a thing.
Richard Kuklinski is now the subject of the major motion picture titled "The Iceman"(2013), starring James Franco, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, and Chris Evans.
On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.
For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?
These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts.
Filled with hard-won wisdom and compassion, A Mother’s Reckoning is a powerful and haunting book that sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of our time. And with fresh wounds from the Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent.
All author profits from the book will be donated to research and to charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues.
— Washington Post, Best Memoirs of 2016
Vincent Bugliosi was the prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial, and this book is his enthralling account of how he built his case from what a defense attorney dismissed as only "two fingerprints and Vince Bugliosi." The meticulous detective work with which the story begins, the prosecutor's view of a complex murder trial, the reconstruction of the philosophy Manson inculcated in his fervent followers... these elements make for a true crime classic. ?Helter Skelter ?is not merely a spellbinding murder case and courtroom drama but also, in the words of ?The New Republic?, a "social document of rare importance."Some images in this ebook are not displayed due to permissions issues.
Drawing from their correspondence that endured until shortly before Bundy's death, and striking a seamless balance between her deeply personal perspective and her role as a crime reporter on the hunt for a savage serial killer -- the brilliant and charismatic Bundy, the man she thought she knew -- Rule changed the course of true-crime literature with this unforgettable chronicle.
On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.
As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.
But something about her story was fishy, and detectives began to suspect Diane was lying. Was it possible that she was the shooter? Absolutely not, her supporters insisted. Diane, they said, adored her children. When investigators suggested a motive, Diane was indignant. Not only would she never harm her own children, she certainly would never do it for the reason detectives suggested. Was the attractive blonde the wonderful mother she claimed to be? Or was she a woman so obsessed, she would kill her own young to achieve her goal?
Ann Rule's critically acclaimed SMALL SACRIFICES, was an instant bestseller, and later Farrah Fawcett was nominated for an Emmy for her portrayal of Downs in the TV miniseries based on Rule's book.
The film story of young Sanford Clark and his forced participation in the Wineville Murders was covered in Clint Eastwood's movie, THE CHANGELING, but for answers to the questions Eastwood posed after completing the project, turn to the true story of the Wineville murders: Anthony Flacco's THE ROAD OUT OF HELL. The hell part isn't what makes the story important; it's the road out that does.
From 1926 to 1928, Gordon Stewart Northcott committed at least 20 murders on a chicken ranch outside of Los Angeles. His nephew, Sanford Clark, was held captive there from the age of 13 to 15, and was the sole surviving victim of the killing spree. Here, acclaimed crime writer Anthony Flacco—using never-before-heard information from Sanford’s son, Jerry Clark—tells the real story behind the case that riveted the nation.
Forced by Northcott to take part in the murders, Sanford carried tremendous guilt all his life. Yet despite his youth and the trauma, he helped gain some justice for the dead and their families by testifying at Northcott’s trial—which led to his conviction and execution. It was a shocking story, but perhaps the most shocking part of all is the extraordinarily ordinary life Clark went on to live as a decorated WWII vet, a devoted husband of 55 years, a loving father, and a productive citizen.
In dramatizing one of the darkest cases in American crime, Flacco constructs a riveting psychological drama about how Sanford was able to detoxify himself from the evil he’d encountered, offering the ultimately redemptive story of one man’s remarkable ability to survive a nightmare and emerge intact.
A DEVOTED BACHELOR
Travis Alexander was a handsome, hard-working, practicing Mormon who lived in Mesa, Arizona. His good looks and easygoing manner made him popular with everyone, especially the ladies. So when he was found with a bullet wound in the face and his throat slashed, the brutal murder sent shock waves throughout his community. Who could have done something so sinister?
A DEADLY OBSESSION
But soon a suspect was singled out—Jodi Arias. A beautiful, aspiring photographer, Jodi had been in a long-distance relationship with Travis the year before. But Travis wasn't interested in a serious commitment; he was seeing several women during that time. When he broke up with her, that didn't stop Jodi from leaving California, moving to just a few miles away from Travis's home, and inserting herself into his daily life. Investigators found one piece of startling evidence in Travis's home that implicated Jodi. But in a bizarre turn of events, Jodi would claim self-defense. Was she a victim—or a devious femme fatale?
With 8 pages of chilling photos
Through two trials, America watched with baited breath as Juan Martinez fought relentlessly to convict Jodi Arias of Murder One for viciously stabbing her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander to death. What emerged was a story wrought with sex, manipulation, and deceit that stunned the public at every turn. Arias, always playing the wronged and innocent woman, changed her story continually as her bizarre behavior surrounding the crime and its aftermath came to light. Unwavering, Arias and her defense team continued to play off the salacious details of the case, until she was finally found guilty and—controversially—sentenced to life behind bars.
Now, speaking openly for the first time, prosecutor Juan Martinez will unearth new details from the investigation that were never revealed at trial, exploring key facts from the case and the pieces of evidence he chose to keep close to the vest. Throughout the trials, his bullish and unfaltering prosecution strategy was both commended and criticized, and in his book, Martinez will illuminate the unique tactics he utilized in this case and how they lead to a successful conviction, and-for the first time-discuss how he felt losing the death penalty sentence he’d pursued for years.
Going beyond the news reports, Martinez will explore the truth behind the multiple facades of Jodi Arias. Sparring with her from across the stand, Martinez came to know Arias like no one else could, dissecting what it took for a seemingly normal girl to become a deluded, cunning, and unrepentant murderer.
With new stories from behind the scenes of the trial and Martinez’s own take on his defendant, the book takes you inside the mind of Jodi Arias like never before. Complete with 16 pages of photos from the case and trial, this book is the definitive account of the case that shocked America.
One week after fifteen-year-old Nick Markowitz vanished, his mother received the news: Nick's body had been found in a shallow grave. Now she tells her own gripping story-the unbelievable motive for the murder, the shocking identity of the accused, and her own nine-year battle to bring her son's killers to justice.
In July 2011, billionaire Jonah Shacknai’s Coronado, California, mansion was the setting for two horrifying deaths only days apart—his young son’s plunge from a balcony and his girlfriend’s ghastly hanging. What really happened? Baffling questions remain unanswered, as these cases were closed far too soon for hundreds of people; Rule looks at them now through the eyes of a relentless crime reporter. The second probe began in Utah when Susan Powell vanished in a 2009 blizzard. Her controlling husband, Josh, proved capable of a blind rage that was heartbreakingly fatal to his innocent small sons almost three years later in a tragedy that shocked America as the details unfolded. If anyone had detected the depth of depravity within Josh Powell, perhaps the family that loved and trusted him would have been saved. In these and seven other riveting cases, Ann Rule exposes the twisted truth behind the façades of Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors.
These doomed relationships are the focus of queen of true crime Ann Rule’s sixteenth all-new Crime Files collection. In these shattering inside views of both headlined and little-known homicides, Rule speaks for vulnerable victims who relied on the wrong people. She begins with two startling novella-length investigations.
Back in his broken hometown, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charlie LeDuff searches the ruins of Detroit for clues to his family’s troubled past. Having led us on the way up, Detroit now seems to be leading us on the way down. Once the richest city in America, Detroit is now the nation’s poorest. Once the vanguard of America’s machine age—mass-production, blue-collar jobs, and automobiles—Detroit is now America’s capital for unemployment, illiteracy, dropouts, and foreclosures. With the steel-eyed reportage that has become his trademark, and the righteous indignation only a native son possesses, LeDuff sets out to uncover what destroyed his city. He beats on the doors of union bosses and homeless squatters, powerful businessmen and struggling homeowners and the ordinary people holding the city together by sheer determination. Detroit: An American Autopsy is an unbelievable story of a hard town in a rough time filled with some of the strangest and strongest people our country has to offer.
In the tradition of the best investigative journalism, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs 5 days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the reader into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and maintain life amid chaos.
After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several of those caregivers faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths.
Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.
In a voice at once involving and fair, masterful and intimate, Fink exposes the hidden dilemmas of end-of-life care and reveals just how ill-prepared we are for the impact of large-scale disasters—and how we can do better. A remarkable book, engrossing from start to finish, Five Days at Memorial radically transforms your understanding of human nature in crisis.
One of The New York Times' Best Ten Books of the Year
Killing Her Wasn't Enough. . .
Sixteen-year-old Adrianne Reynolds couldn't unravel the twisted tangles of jealousy and domination complicating her new life in East Moline, Illinois. What began as a fresh start after a troubled home life in Texas ended with Adrianne's body charred, stuffed into garbage bags, and scattered. It seemed the work of hardened criminals, but the truth was far more astonishing: her own "best friends" choked Adrianne to death and cut her up. Now, master crime writer M. William Phelps recounts this horrific saga of teen lust and violence in every gripping detail.
Praise for M. William Phelps
"One of our most engaging crime journalists." -Katherine Ramsland
"Phelps creates a vivid portrait." -Publishers Weekly
"One of America's finest true-crime writers." -Vincent Bugliosi
Includes 16 Pages Of Shocking Photos
The life of Harry S. Truman is one of the greatest of American stories, filled with vivid characters—Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson—and dramatic events. In this riveting biography, acclaimed historian David McCullough not only captures the man—a more complex, informed, and determined man than ever before imagined—but also the turbulent times in which he rose, boldly, to meet unprecedented challenges. The last president to serve as a living link between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, Truman’s story spans the raw world of the Missouri frontier, World War I, the powerful Pendergast machine of Kansas City, the legendary Whistle-Stop Campaign of 1948, and the decisions to drop the atomic bomb, confront Stalin at Potsdam, send troops to Korea, and fire General MacArthur. Drawing on newly discovered archival material and extensive interviews with Truman’s own family, friends, and Washington colleagues, McCullough tells the deeply moving story of the seemingly ordinary “man from Missouri” who was perhaps the most courageous president in our history.
The scene is Baltimore. Twice every three days another citizen is shot, stabbed, or bludgeoned to death. At the center of this hurricane of crime is the city's homicide unit, a small brotherhood of hard men who fight for whatever justice is possible in a deadly world.
David Simon was the first reporter ever to gain unlimited access to a homicide unit, and this electrifying book tells the true story of a year on the violent streets of an American city. The narrative follows Donald Worden, a veteran investigator; Harry Edgerton, a black detective in a mostly white unit; and Tom Pellegrini, an earnest rookie who takes on the year's most difficult case, the brutal rape and murder of an eleven-year-old girl.
Originally published fifteen years ago, Homicide became the basis for the acclaimed television show of the same name. This new edition—which includes a new introduction, an afterword, and photographs—revives this classic, riveting tale about the men who work on the dark side of the American experience.
In this harrowing New York Times bestseller, Ann Rule is at her masterful best as she winnows horrific truths from the ashes of what seemed like paradise in Prairie Village, Kansas. Rule probes the case of Debora Green, a doctor and a loving mother who seemed to epitomize the dreams of the American heartland. A small-town girl with a genius IQ, she achieved an enviable life: her own medical practice, a handsome physician husband, three perfect children, and an opulent home in an exclusive Kansas City suburb. But when a raging fire destroyed that home and took two lives, the trail of clues led investigators to a stunning conclusion. Piece by piece, Ann Rule digs beneath this placid Midwestern facade to unveil a disturbing portrait of strangely troubled marriages, infidelity, desperation, suicide, and escalating acts of revenge that forever changed dozens of lives.
Jeanne Dominico's fiancé found her body on her kitchen floor. More than forty stab wounds and blows to her head with a blunt instrument had cut her life short. What monster had struck in the heart of a peaceful New England town?
A Trust Betrayed
Jeanne was a hard-working single mother. Nicole, her fourteen-year-old daughter was on the honor-roll and head over heels in love--with an eighteen-year-old man she'd known only through the Internet. Once the lovers met in person, Jeanne's motherly instincts sensed trouble. If only she'd known that the life in danger was her own.
In The Name Of Love
With a history of psychological trouble and family misfortune, Billy Sullivan's obsessive and controlling power over Nicole contributed to the brutal slaying of her mother. But it was Nicole's stunning confession and guilty plea that led to Billy's sensational trial, where a sordid tale of love, loss, betrayal and murder finally took a cold-blooded killer offline--and on line for justice.
"Phelps is a first-rate investigator." --Dr. Michael M. Baden
Includes 16 Pages Of Shocking Photos
Investigative journalist M. William Phelps is the author of Murder in the Heartland, Perfect Poison, Every Move You Make, Lethal Guardian, and Sleep in Heavenly Peace. He has appeared on dozens of national radio and television programs, including Court TV, The Discovery Channel, Good Morning America, Geraldo at Large and Montel Williams, and has consulted for the Showtime cable television series Dexter. He lives in a small Connecticut farming community with his wife and children.
When beautiful, blond Sheila married the charming, handsome Blackthorne, she was convinced she had found her perfect soul mate, and helped him reach his goal of living the privileged life of the country club set. But behind Allen's smooth facade, she discovered a violent, controlling sociopath -- a liar, a scam artist, a sexual deviant. When she finally fled with their two young daughters, she was skeletally thin, bruised, and beaten.
Although Sheila recovered, remarried, and was starting a new life and family, she still felt she was doomed. Joyously pregnant, she and her new husband expecting quadruplets, Sheila still feared Blackthorne, who had sworn to her he would monitor her every move and "every breath you take." And, in fact, Blackthorne inevitably tracked her down, as did her killer, who left her in a pool of blood marked by the tiny footprints of her two-year-old toddlers. The questions remained: Could the authorities ever link Sheila's murder to Blackthorne himself? Was his true obsession high-stakes golf and his extravagant pink mansion -- or was it to destroy Sheila?
Following a trail of deception from Oregon and Hawaii to Texas and Florida, Ann Rule gained complete access to Sheila's family, friends, and neighbors, as well as to the detectives and prosecutors on the case. With Every Breath You Take, Ann Rule has written a heart-pounding account of obsession, revenge, and murder that will enthrall readers from beginning to end.
She wanted everything, but her husband stood in the way.
The lesbian lover:
A love-struck, middle-aged woman with a history of mental illness, she would do anything to set Celeste free.
The beauty salon receptionist:
Celeste hired her to tie up the loose ends ... in a second conspiracy to commit murder.
NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Economist • The Globe and Mail • BookPage • Kirkus Reviews
On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a young man is shot and killed on a sidewalk minutes away from his home, one of the thousands of black Americans murdered that year. His assailant runs down the street, jumps into an SUV, and vanishes, hoping to join the scores of killers in American cities who are never arrested for their crimes.
But as soon as the case is assigned to Detective John Skaggs, the odds shift.
Here is the kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential, but mostly ignored, American murder—a “ghettoside” killing, one young black man slaying another—and a brilliant and driven cadre of detectives whose creed is to pursue justice for forgotten victims at all costs. Ghettoside is a fast-paced narrative of a devastating crime, an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy, and a surprising new lens into the great subject of why murder happens in our cities—and how the epidemic of killings might yet be stopped.
Praise for Ghettoside
“A serious and kaleidoscopic achievement . . . [Jill Leovy is] a crisp writer with a crisp mind and the ability to boil entire skies of information into hard journalistic rain.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Masterful . . . gritty reporting that matches the police work behind it.”—Los Angeles Times
“Moving and engrossing.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Penetrating and heartbreaking . . . Ghettoside points out how relatively little America has cared even as recently as the last decade about the value of young black men’s lives.”—USA Today
“Functions both as a snappy police procedural and—more significantly—as a searing indictment of legal neglect . . . Leovy’s powerful testimony demands respectful attention.”—The Boston Globe
“Gritty, heart-wrenching . . . Everyone needs to read this book.”—Michael Connelly
“Ghettoside is remarkable: a deep anatomy of lawlessness.”—Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal
“[Leovy writes] with grace and artistry, and controlled—but bone-deep—outrage in her new book. . . . The most important book about urban violence in a generation.”—The Washington Post
“Riveting . . . This timely book could not be more important.”—Associated Press
“Leovy’s relentless reporting has produced a book packed with valuable, hard-won insights—and it serves as a crucial, 366-page reminder that ‘black lives matter.’ ”—The New York Times Book Review
“A compelling analysis of the factors behind the epidemic of black-on-black homicide . . . an important book, which deserves a wide audience.”—Hari Kunzru, The Guardian
From the Hardcover edition.
When news broke of three-year-old Caylee Anthony's disappearance from her home in Florida in July 2008, there was a huge outpouring of sympathy across the nation. The search for Caylee made front-page headlines. But there was one huge question mark hanging over the case: the girl's mother.
As the investigation continued and suspicions mounted, Casey became the prime suspect. In October, based on new evidence against Casey—her erratic behavior and lies, her car that showed signs of human decomposition—a grand jury indicted the young single mother. Then, two months later, police found Caylee's remains a quarter of a mile away from the Anthony home. Casey pled not guilty to charges of murder in the first degree, and she continues to protest her innocence. Did she or didn't she kill Caylee? Mommy's Little Girl is the story of one of the most shocking, confusing, and horrific crimes in modern American history.
Perhaps the most compelling murder case of our day, the death of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey galvanized the nation-and years after it occurred, the mystery still endures. Who killed the young beauty queen and why? Who is covering up for whom and who is simply lying? In JonBenet, the most authoritative and comprehensive study of the Ramsey murder, a former lead Boulder Police detective, Steve Thomas, explores the case in vivid and fascinating detail-pointing the way toward an analysis of the evidence some deem too shocking to consider. Here, Thomas raises these and many other provocative questions:
-How was the investigation botched from the beginning-and why did police so carelessly allow the crime scene to be tampered with?
-Why were John and Patsy Ramsey protected from early questioning and any lie-detector tests, even though their stories and behavior were erratic, suspicious and inconsistent?
-Why was crucial evidence ignored, why were certain key witnesses unquestioned by detectives, and why were the Ramseys privy to sensitive information about the case and even police reports?
After killer Shelia Eddy pled guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison and Rachel Shoaf was sentenced to thirty years for second-degree murder, family, friends, investigators, and other key sources reveal the facts you would have learned if the case had gone to trial.
Including specific details drawn from Rachel’s confession, Pretty Little Killers looks at the crime through the eyes of the victim and killers, providing intimate testimony from the pages of Rachel’s personal journal, Skylar’s diary and school papers, and court records.
Berry and Fuller examine all this, including previously unreported details about Rachel and Shelia’s rumored lesbian relationship and explain why more than one investigator believes Skylar’s murder was a thrill kill.
Most important, Pretty Little Killers provides a satisfying answer to Skylar’s final question: “Why?”
A search began which lasted an agonizing four months. Sadly, Laci Peterson and her son Conner were found dead on the shores of San Francisco Bay on April 18, 2003.
Her husband, Scott, was eventually arrested and charged with the murder of Laci and Connor. After a sensational, media-saturated trial, Peterson was found guilty of capital murder and was sentenced to death on March 16, 2005.
This book deals with the story in three separate sections: first, Sharon describes the ordinary, loving life her daughter led, including fond memories of her childhood and adolescence. Second, it covers her marriage, disappearance, the community's moving search for her, and her and Connor's eventual recovery from San Francisco Bay. Third, it tells the story of the trial in detail not before revealed. Sharon will also talk about victim's rights, a subject on which she now campaigns regularly.
From the Hardcover edition.
A psychopathic mastermind whose reign of terror had no limits--even murder. . .
For years, Eddie Lee Sexton ruled his family with perverse domination. He enforced every cruelty imaginable, from vicious beatings to raping his daughters and fathering their children. Yet the sadistic father nearly escaped death row on a legal technicality.
Lowell Cauffiel's unsparing non-fiction thriller reveals a house of horrors Eddie Lee Sexton thought no one would ever see. Now updated, it shows how Sexton's sick genius ultimately dodged justice, and investigates the tragic aftermath of his victimized family.
"An odyssey into American pathology. Deeply disturbing." --Detroit Free Press
"A balanced and grimly engaging true-crime account." --Publishers Weekly
"Cauffiel knows how to dramatize true crime." --Elmore Leonard
Warning! Contains 16 pages of graphic photos.
Nestled in Puget Sound and accessible only by ferry, Whidbey Island is a gem off the coast of Washington State where life is insular and the island’s year-round residents tend to know one another’s business. But when the blood-drenched body of Russel Douglas is discovered the day after Christmas in his SUV, the whole island is shocked. No one can imagine who among them could plot such a cold-blooded crime. And like a cast of characters from a mystery novel, a host of Whidbey residents fall under suspicion.
Brenna Douglas was Russel’s estranged and soon-to-be-ex wife, who allowed him to come home for a Christmas visit with their children. Brenna often complained to her good friend Peggy Sue that Russel was physically and emotionally abusive. Married three times, Peggy Sue’s own life has been one of extremes: hers is a rags-to-riches-and-back-again tale. But in 2003, her love affair with married guitarist Jim Huden led the two Whidbey Island natives to pursue their ultimate dreams of wealth and privilege—even at the expense of human life.
Unravel the tangled web woven by Russel Douglas’s murder in Practice to Deceive, the newest heart pounding true-crime tour de force from Ann Rule.
MOVING IN FOR THE KILL
In this all-new collection of investigative accounts from her private archives, “America’s best true-crime writer” (Kirkus Reviews) exposes the most frightening aspect of the murderous mind: the waiting game. Trusted family members or strangers, these cold-blooded killers select their unsuspecting prey, wait for the perfect moment to strike, then turn normality into homicidal mayhem in a matter of moments. Ann Rule will have you seeing the people and places around you with heightened caution as you read these shattering cases, including:
• New mothers murdered, their infants kidnapped, in an atrocious baby-selling scheme
• The man who kept his criminal past hidden from his wife—and his wife from his mistress—until he coldly disposed of one of them
• The beautiful daughter of a State Department official ran away from the privileged world she knew and hitched a ride with a man she didn’t . . . with fatal consequences
• For months, a vicious, rage-filled serial rapist eluded police and terrorized Seattle’s women—when would he strike next, and how far would his violence escalate?
• A criminal known for his Houdini-like escapes is serving time for murder in a botched robbery—now the convict is being served dinner in a civilian’s home, where he has one more trick up his sleeve
• A long-lost relative who came home to visit, leaving a bloody trail through Washington and Oregon; no one realized how dangerous he and his ladylove were—until it was far too late. . . .
With her ability to translate the most complex cases into storytelling “as dramatic and chilling as a bedroom window shattering at night” (The New York Times), Rule expertly analyzes the thoughts and deeds of the
sociopath, in this seventeenth essential Crime Files volume.
Eli Stutzman, the son of an Amish bishop, was by all appearances a dedicated farmer and family man in the country's strictest religious sect. But behind his quiet façade was a man involved with pornography, sadomasochism, and drugs. After the suspicious death of his pregnant wife, Stutzman took his preschool-age son, Danny, and hit the road on a sexual odyssey ending with his conviction for murder. But the mystery of Eli Stutzman and the fate of his son didn't end on the barren Nebraska plains. It was just beginning. . .
Gregg Olsen's Abandoned Prayers is an incredible true story of murder and Amish secrets.
Walking home on a dark night, you hear footsteps coming up behind you. As they get closer, your heart pounds harder. Who is closing in with dangerous intent—a total stranger? Or someone you know and trust? The answer is as simple as turning around, but don’t look behind you . . . run. Ann Rule, who shared her own nerve-jangling account of unknowingly befriending sadistic sociopath Ted Bundy in The Stranger Beside Me, chronicles other fateful encounters with the hidden predators among us in this riveting collection, fifteenth in the bestselling series drawn from her personal files. First in line is a stunning case that spanned thirty years and took a determined detective to four states—ending, finally, in Alaska—where he unraveled not one but two murders. A second case appears to begin and end with the hunt for the Green River Killer, focusing on a Washington State man who was once cleared as a suspect in that deadly chain of homicides. But the millionaire property owner believed he had successfully buried his own murderous past and the awful truth behind his young wife’s disappearance. She vanished soon after she left for a day at the Seattle World’s Fair, and her three small children grew up believing their mother had abandoned them. But one amazing witness remained—the missing woman’s best friend, who heard her last words in a frantic phone call—“He’s coming!”—before the line went dead. Only since Robert Hansen’s suicide has the monster within been revealed. In another true story, a petite woman went to a tavern, looking only for conversation and fun. Instead, she met violent death in the form of a seven-foot man who had seemed shy and harmless. You’ll feel a chill as you uncover these and numerous other cases of unfortunate victims who made one tragic mistake: trusting the wrong person—even someone they’d known intimately, or thought they knew.
And don't miss Kathryn Casey's latest book, Deliver Us, a riveting account of the brutal murders of young women in the I-45/Texas Killing Fields.
The West Memphis Three. Accused, convicted…and set free. Do you know their story?
In 2011, one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in American legal history was set right when Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were released after eighteen years in prison. Award-winning journalist Mara Leveritt’s The Devil’s Knot remains the most comprehensive, insightful reporting ever done on the investigation, trials, and convictions of three teenage boys who became known as the West Memphis Three.
For weeks in 1993, after the murders of three eight-year-old boys, police in West Memphis, Arkansas seemed stymied. Then suddenly, detectives charged three teenagers—alleged members of a satanic cult—with the killings. Despite the witch-hunt atmosphere of the trials, and a case which included stunning investigative blunders, a confession riddled with errors, and an absence of physical evidence linking any of the accused to the crime, the teenagers were convicted. Jurors sentenced Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley to life in prison and Damien Echols, the accused ringleader, to death. The guilty verdicts were popular in their home state—even upheld on appeal—and all three remained in prison until their unprecedented release in August 2011.
With close-up views of its key participants, this award-winning account unravels the many tangled knots of this endlessly shocking case, one which will shape the American legal landscape for years to come.
What began as an innocent flirtation erupted into an affair that destroyed many lives. At its center were three people so charismatic, attractive and intelligent, that they should have had decades of happiness ahead of them. But three is a crowd, and the odd man out wanted back in--at any cost.
But was he capable of murder? Supporters said no, and pointed out he had an airtight alibi. Yet someone hatched a fatal scheme so unbelievable it could be a plot from a Hitchcock film.
Ann Rule first covered this case for COSMOPOLITAN magazine in 1976. But Olive Blankenbaker, mother of one of the victims, begged Rule to dig deeper and write an entire book. Rule promised Olive that she would.
It took twenty years, but she kept her promise to Olive. Rule's thorough research of one of the most fascinating cases she has ever found brings A FEVER IN THE HEART to life and keeps true crime fans riveted.
When Caylee Anthony was reported missing in Orlando, Florida, in July 2008, the public spent the next three years following the investigation and the eventual trial of her mother, Casey Anthony. On July 5, 2011, the case that captured headlines worldwide exploded when, against all odds, defense attorney Jose Baez delivered one of the biggest legal upsets in American history: a not-guilty verdict.
In this tell-all, Baez shares secrets the defense knew but has not disclosed to anyone until now and frankly reveals his experiences throughout the entire case—discovering the evidence, meeting Casey Anthony for the first time, being with George and Cindy Anthony day after day, leading defense strategy meetings, and spending weeks in the judge’s chambers.
Presumed Guilty shows how Baez, a struggling, high-school dropout, became one of the nation’s most high-profile defense attorneys through his tireless efforts to seek justice for one of the country’s most vilified murder suspects.
In the heart of Indianapolis in the mid 1960's, through a twist of fate and fortune, a pretty young girl came to live with a thirty-seven-year-old mother and her seven children. What began as a temporary childcare arrangement between Sylvia Likens's parents and Gertrude Baniszewski turned into a crime that would haunt cops, prosecutors, and a community for decades to come...
When police found Sylvia's emaciated body, with a chilling message carved into her flesh, they knew that she had suffered tremendously before her death. Soon they would learn how many others—including some of Baniszewski's own children—participated in Sylvia's murder, and just how much torture had been inflicted in one HOUSE OF EVIL
Sheila Davalloo was young, attractive, and successful. When she started a new job at a cutting-edge research lab in Stamford, Connecticut, she met the man of her dreams. Nelson Sessler had no idea how violently Sheila would react when he began seeing a co-worker, Anna Lisa Raymundo. Sheila eliminated her rival in a bloody knife attack—and then turned her rage on another victim she saw as an obstacle to her passions. M. Williams Phelps recounts the riveting story of a white-collar love triangle gone horribly wrong. . .and the terrifying infatuation that drove one woman to kill.
"Phelps is the Harlan Coben of real-life thrillers."—Allison Brennan
"M. William Phelps dares to tread where few others will: into the mind of a killer." —TV Rage
Includes 16 Pages Of Dramatic Photos
* All Random House Large Print editions are published in a 16-point typeface
Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.
It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the "soul of pampered self-absorption"; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story is a sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city is certain to become a modern classic.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Journalist Daleen Berry and investigator Geoffrey Fuller give you the little-known details behind one of the most horrific and shocking murders of our time.
One hot July night, three popular, pretty girls snuck out for a midnight joyride. Only two came back.
Stabbed so savagely she was almost decapitated, Skylar Neese was left bloody on the side of the road, buried beneath rocks and branches.
For six months, people wondered and waited, hoping Skylar would return. Instead, the community was stunned when Rachel Shoaf confessed to Skylar’s murder. The budding actress and singer accused the third member of the inseparable trio, Shelia Eddy, of being the ringleader. People were even more shocked to learn the murder was not a crime of sudden rage—but premeditated.
Now, friends, family, and the public are left with so many unanswered questions: Why did investigators believe her murder was connected to a rash of bank robberies and an interstate heroin ring? What part did drugs and social media play in Skylar’s killing and its aftermath? How did other high school students and even her own mother help discover who killed Skylar? And, if Rachel’s confession is true, what would lead two teenage girls to kill their best friend in one of the most horrific crimes in recent years?
With firsthand interviews with those close to the case and written in cooperation with the victim's parents, Dave and Mary Neese, The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese is the most comprehensive, detailed and in-depth source on the Skylar Neese murder.
In her trademark narrative style, Ann Rule weaves a tale that is riveting, enraging, and heartbreaking all at once, and brilliantly chronicles the fateful confluence of a killer and his female victims, as well as the shattering investigation into Roth's heinous crimes.
When actress Sharon Tate and four others were brutally murdered by Charles Manson and his followers, the world was shocked. More than forty years later, the gruesome barbarity of the “Manson Family” still fascinates and horrifies.
This true crime memoir by Alisa Statman, a 20-year Tate family friend, and Brie Tate, the daughter of Sharon Tate’s niece, includes interviews with the Tate family, accounts from personal letters, tape recordings, home movies, and private diaries.
Complete with color photographs and personal insights, Restless Souls is the most revealing, riveting, and emotionally raw account of the gruesome slayings, the hunt and capture of the killers, and the behind-the-scenes drama of their trials, as well as a touching view of the torment that the victims families’ have endured for years after such tragedy.
It was the trial that stunned America. On July 5, 2011, nearly three years after her initial arrest, Casey Anthony walked away, virtually scot-free, from one of the most sensational murder trials of all time. She'd been accused of killing her daughter, Caylee, but the trial only left behind more questions: Was she actually innocent? What really happened to Caylee? Was this what justice really looked like?
In Imperfect Justice, prosecutor Jeff Ashton, one of the principal players in the case's drama, sheds light on those questions and much more, telling the behind-the-scenes story of the investigation, the trial, and the now-infamous verdict. Complete with never-before-revealed information about the case and the accused, Ashton examines what the prosecution got right, what they got wrong, and why he remains completely convinced of Casey Anthony's guilt.
In the summer of 2003, the Houston suburb of Clear Lake, Texas was devastated when four young residents were viciously slain. The two female victims, Tiffany Rowell and Rachael Koloroutis, were just eighteen-years-old—popular and beloved. But when a killer came knocking, it turned out to be someone they knew all too well.
Seventeen-year-old Christine Paolilla was an awkward outsider until the girls befriended her. In this gripping true story, complete with 16 pages of dramatic photos, M. William Phelps delves into the heart of a baffling mystery to get to the truth of an act so brutal it could not be understood—until now.
Praise for M. William Phelps
"Phelps ratchets up the dramatic tension." –Stephen Singular
"One of America's finest true-crime writers." –Vincent Bugliosi
"Phelps creates a vivid portrait." –Publishers Weekly
“One of our most engaging crime journalists.” –Katherine Ramsland
"Phelps is the Harlan Coben of real-life thrillers." –Allison Brennan
"The best true-crime writer to come along in years." –Gregg Olsen
By Their Father's Hand is a chilling true story of incest, abuse, madness, and murder, and one family's terrible and ultimately fatal ordeal at the hands of a powerful, manipulative man—a cultist who envisioned vengeful gods and vampires, and totally controlled those closest to him before their world came to a brutal and bloody halt.
FROM SECURITY TO SURVIVAL
The author of The Stranger Beside Me brings her brilliantly informed understanding of the sociopath to this riveting truecrime collection. Only Ann Rule, who unknowingly worked alongside the smart and charming Ted Bundy -- America's most notorious serial killer -- could lend her razor-sharp insight into these cases of the spouse, lover, family member, or helpful stranger who is totally trusted but whose lethally violent nature, though masterfully disguised, can and will kill. Featured here is the case of a Southern California family man who appeared to be the picture of healthy living with his expertise in naturopathic healing. Luring a beautiful flight attendant into a passionate affair, he swept her away to a secluded home on the Oregon coast where his jealous rages escalated, ultimately leading to a brutal sex attack in which she believed she would die. How this brave victim survived, never knowing her tormentor's whereabouts, and how he resurfaced, forcing a tragic end for all involved, makes this one of Ann Rule's most compelling narratives. Other cases include that of the woman who masterminded her husband's murder to gain his inheritance...the monstrous sadist whose prison release damaged a presidential candidate's campaign and ended in a bitter double tragedy in a quiet neighborhood three thousand miles away...the shocking DNA link between a cold-blooded crime and a cold case...and inside the horrific case of the man who crossed an ocean and several countries to stalk the Eurasian beauty who had fled from him in desperation.
Red Cloud was the only American Indian in history to defeat the United States Army in a war, forcing the government to sue for peace on his terms. At the peak of Red Cloud’s powers the Sioux could claim control of one-fifth of the contiguous United States and the loyalty of thousands of fierce fighters. But the fog of history has left Red Cloud strangely obscured. Now, thanks to the rediscovery of a lost autobiography, and painstaking research by two award-winning authors, the story of the nineteenth century’s most powerful and successful Indian warrior can finally be told.
In The Heart of Everything That Is, Bob Drury and Tom Clavin restore Red Cloud to his rightful place in American history in a sweeping and dramatic narrative based on years of primary research. As they trace the events leading to Red Cloud’s War, they provide intimate portraits of the many lives Red Cloud touched—mountain men such as Jim Bridger; US generals like William Tecumseh Sherman, who were charged with annihilating the Sioux; fearless explorers, such as the dashing John Bozeman; and the memorable warriors whom Red Cloud groomed, like the legendary Crazy Horse. And at the center of the story is Red Cloud, fighting for the very existence of the Indian way of life.
“Unabashed, unbiased, and disturbingly honest, leaving no razor-sharp arrowhead unturned, no rifle trigger unpulled....a compelling and fiery narrative” (USA TODAY), this is the definitive chronicle of the conflict between an expanding white civilization and the Plains Indians who stood in its way.
In this unnerving collection drawn from her personal crime files, "America's best true-crime writer" (Kirkus Reviews) Ann Rule brilliantly dissects the convoluted love affairs that all too often end in violence.
Expertly analyzing a shocking, headline-making case, Rule unmasks the deadly motives inside a seemingly idyllic marriage: a beautiful young wife, a rising star in America's top-ranked computer corporation, and a prosperous husband, the scion of a family building business. With an adorable son and a gorgeous home, the couple seemed to have it all. But a furtive evil permeated their days and nights, dragging them into a murky world of drugs, sordid sex, and con operations. In this realm, one of them would prove to be a virtual innocent, the other a manipulator with no conscience. Sudden, violent death brought their charade of a fairy-tale romance to a tragic end -- with a brutal crime that might never have come to light were it not for the stubborn detectives and prosecutors whose fight for justice spanned an entire decade.
Empty Promises recounts several other cases where the search for love brought only lies and betrayal -- a cautionary primer, perhaps, for those who trust too much too soon. Powerful because they strike so close to home, the cases in Empty Promises will leave readers shaken by the realities of love gone terribly -- and fatally -- wrong.
True stories of twisted criminals who hold their victims in endless captivity to satisfy their perverse desires, "Against Their Will" is a comprehensive compendium of the most disturbing kidnappings of all time.
Jaycee Lee Dugard -- lived to tell the tale of her 18 years of captivity in paroled rapist Phillip Garrido's suburban backyard
Elizabeth Smart -- bravely held on for 9 long months in a forced marriage to religious fanatic Brian David Mitchell, who repeatedly raped her in the name of God
Elisabeth Fritzl -- amazingly overcame 24 years trapped in a basement dungeon built especially for her by her father, Josef
Colleen Stan -- heroically endured 7 years as a sex slave, brutally tortured with the full consent of her captor's wife
Tina Marie Risico -- escaped certain death at the hands of a killer by being an unwilling accomplice in other kidnappings
Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century—1951—in the middle of the United States—Des Moines, Iowa—in the middle of the largest generation in American history—the baby boomers. As one of the best and funniest writers alive, he is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24-carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generational peers, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. In his case, he ran around his house and neighborhood with an old football jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel about his neck that served as his cape, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and vanquishing awful evildoers (and morons)—in his head—as "The Thunderbolt Kid."
Using this persona as a springboard, Bill Bryson re-creates the life of his family and his native city in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality—a life at once completely familiar to us all and as far away and unreachable as another galaxy. It was, he reminds us, a happy time, when automobiles and televisions and appliances (not to mention nuclear weapons) grew larger and more numerous with each passing year, and DDT, cigarettes, and the fallout from atmospheric testing were considered harmless or even good for you. He brings us into the life of his loving but eccentric family, including affectionate portraits of his father, a gifted sportswriter for the local paper and dedicated practitioner of isometric exercises, and OF his mother, whose job as the home furnishing editor for the same paper left her little time for practicing the domestic arts at home. The many readers of Bill Bryson’s earlier classic, A Walk in the Woods, will greet the reappearance in these pages of the immortal Stephen Katz, seen hijacking literally boxcar loads of beer. He is joined in the Bryson gallery of immortal characters by the demonically clever Willoughby brothers, who apply their scientific skills and can-do attitude to gleefully destructive ends.
Warm and laugh-out-loud funny, and full of his inimitable, pitch-perfect observations, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is as wondrous a book as Bill Bryson has ever written. It will enchant anyone who has ever been young.