This is a very difficult book to cast into a genre. I thought I would be reading the history of poorly constructed architecture which caused accidents or deaths. Instead it felt like the author did look into architecture that sadly cause accidents or led the architect to commit suicide but it is also her feelings on the philosophy of suicide. Charlotte Van den Broeck is a talented author and I enjoyed sections of the book but felt that it
was very different from the book I thought I was reading. 3 stars
1889 Belle Epoque Paris
There lived a woman who wanted to be the queen of Parisian society, loved by all especially the powerful and rich men. She had learned how to use her sex appeal early in life taking lessons from her father who she had more than a close relationship with. Marguerite Steinheil would marry out of necessity and flaunt her charms to live the life she really craved. Meg had a range of lovers from the president of France to the richest and most powerful men in government but that almost didn't save her from a double murder scandal. After her mother and husband are found murdered and Meg tied up but unharmed, her accounts of what happened became more absurd and the police failed to turn up any suspects. Eventually Meg was tried for the murders. A fascinating and strange story of sex, politics and ambition in a time of great abandon in the city of light awash in sin. True crime lovers will be all in as will those who appreciate the lengths that women had to go to in order to enjoy the same freedom as men. 4 stars
The story of the American "Jack the Ripper" might pull you in at first but just as interesting is the backstory of the early days of forensic criminal science and the control of corruption and gangsters after prohibition by an unlikely hero, Eliot Ness. 1934 and body parts are turning up all over an area of Cleveland. Police are dumbfounded as they have no clues and no way to connect the human puzzle pieces until the heads are found. Some are fresh and some have been preserved while all have been expertly dissected and dismembered. Was this the act of a mad serial butcher or a disgruntled doctor?
How many bodies were out there and when will the killings stop? Time to call in "The Untouchables" and new anti- crime boss of Cleveland - Eliot Ness. Daniel Stashower gives us all the gruesome details of these murders and the public's fascination with them as well as the headlines of the time and the methods used. One fact I found particularly interesting was how they invited the public to have their fingerprints made during the World Exposition in Chicago which gave the police the first fingerprint data base. The perfect follow up to Eric Larson's DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY. 4 stars
Black psychologist super couple Kennith and Mamie Clark knew the dangers of segregation and racial inequality in the 1940's and later. They saw what it was doing to their neighbors in Harlem and elsewhere in the country but after their famous "doll study" they knew that it was affecting the youngest of the population. The study took a wide group of young black children and had them choose which doll they wanted to play with and which doll looked the most like themselves. Their results were shocking in that most of the children chose the white doll over the black doll and wanted to see themselves as looking like the white doll. Their honest answers showed that they felt that being black was considered bad. This was overwhelming proof that very aware of racial prejudice at a very young age. The Clarks spent their whole career helping to fight segregation and improve education and self worth in the next generation. While half the book is treated as a biography the couple's struggle and both professional and as a family their commitment and findings are enlightening. 3 1/2 stars
Gilded Age New York was full of sensational journalism and there were plenty of scandals to catch a reader's eye - torrid love affairs, crooked politicians, swindlers and women's rights that would barely make a major headline today filled the many daily newspapers of the city. One case covered many of the hot topics, that of the supposed marriage of one of Alexander Hamilton's descendants and his fortune seeking, swindler wife. Robert Ray Hamilton was not the oldest son but his decision to marry well beneath him to his lover who tried to pass off a baby as his kept the wedding out of the society pages. When a cat fight broke out between his wife Evangeline and the baby's nurse which resulted in a stabbing, Robert filed for divorce. Once Eva was in jail charged with the stabbing it didn't take long for the court to discover that she was still married to her friend's son and multiple babies were purchased. In the end Robert fled New York for adventure in Wyoming and died there in a suspicious accident while Eva proclaimed her innocence to the end and still fought for part of the Hamilton estate. This book has it all - seduction, corruption and a big dose of scandal which will appeal to those historical buffs, readers of Caleb Carr and viewers of The Gilded Age who wanted more of the seedy side.
3 1/2 stars
There is nothing like a gritty crime story set in a remote small place that also happens to have some famous residents who also happen to be authors. Two books for one as we witness a serial killer with a personality disorder as well as none other than Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut whose legendary feud is captured as well as their take on the murder case. The late 60's saw young women having more freedom , young people were taking more chances with travel and this new fascination with all types of narcotic drugs. In sleepy Cape Cod Massachusetts life was still fairly quiet until two missing women and the Jekyll and Hyde young man behind it. Tony Costa held many different personalities - to the police he was a drug informer, to people in the community he was a supplier and to some of the locals he was a catch but underneath it all was a side of him that would prove to be the last sight of for several women. The police had ample opportunity to grab Costa but he proved to be slippery and able to outsmart them seemingly at every turn. For any fans of the early days of forensic science, true crime and the mesmerizing nature of killers like The Boston Strangler, Tony Costa and Charles Manson as well as behind the scenes look at two popular authors and the events that shaped their greatest works. 4 stars
A shocking look at racial health disparity among the African American community as well as the documents atrocities committed in the name of science throughout this country's history. From duped young girls being sterilized without their knowledge to men being withheld treatment for venereal disease as a control group in a study. When African Americans get sick they are less likely to receive solid medical advice and treatment compared to their White counterparts. When a college educated Black woman is more likely to die or have severe complications in childbirth compared to a White woman with only an eighth grade education, something is wrong. Hopefully enough people will read this and become angry and bring about a change. 4 stars
Even if you have never gazed up in wonder at a dinosaur skeleton or shivered at the first glimpse of T.Rex in JURASSIC PARK you will be pulled into this account of the race for dinosaur bones especially the elusive full skeletons of giant wonders like T.Rex. The story begins in Gilded Age New York where the robber barons began to amass personal collections of art and curiosities such as dinosaur bones. They began to fund expeditions primarily to the Wild West and want to see their name chiseled in stone above the doors of huge museums. This is how the American Museum, now the American Museum of Natural History began and fought to stay alive through the dinosaur treasures they could find and claim. From little more than P.T. Barnum's curiosity collection to full displays of massive dinosaurs. this accounting highlights the few who were monumental in this race and the sheer luck of finding these remains hidden in layers of rock and covering a vast wasteland. These dinosaur hunters braved unfriendly locals, horrific storms, unbelievable heat and cold not to mention the monumental job transporting the finds weighing tons back to New York. Full of adventure, the characters behind the scenes at the museums or personal collections and the men who risked everything for that one perfect skeleton, this is an interesting look at making science available to everyone. 4 stars and one that Dinosaur George would approve of!
This is true crime based on the murder of two female hikers in 1996 while hiking the Shenandoah Trail. The author as a female journalist offers a unique perspective diving deep into the lives of the victims and their relationship as much as she focuses on the lack of attention their murders got and the feeble investigation that followed. Because Julie and Lollie were in a relationship it was deemed a murder/suicide and drawn away from the public spotlight. Most hikers were not even made aware that a murder had taken place. When the park service, local police and FBI investigated they tidied it up with a suspect who was already in jail for assaulting women. Kathryn Miles presents a detailed look at why this suspect doesn't fit and the case against him was later dismissed. She portrays these two women not as faceless victims but as daughters, lovers, free spirited and adventurous nature lovers whose lives were viciously taken away. It is true crime well researched and brings light to a case that has until now remained ignored. For those readers of true crime, podcast listeners and documentary watchers as well as armchair detectives. 3 1/2 stars
Anyone who is fascinated with true crime knows the name Paul Holes. From his early days as a detective covering Northern California to his current retirement, he has devoted his life to solving cold case murders especially long term serial killers like the East Area Rapist and The Golden State Killer which he worked on with the late Michelle McNamara. His never-ending search for justice has taken a severe toll on his life - one failed marriage and almost two, distant relationships with his children, severe anxiety, alcohol abuse and really gruesome nightmares. This is an open and honest look at what it takes to be a cold case detective with all the emotional highs of finding that one bit of condemning evidence to the heartbreak of all of your leads going nowhere. Details about past cases are candy for the true crime podcast aficionados and those with family in law enforcement will appreciate the dedication and relationship warnings of Paul's story. 4 stars
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