Book Review ~ Deadly Associates

DEADLY ASSOCIATES: A True Story Of Murder, Survival, and Bringing Down the Chicago Mob

by Emma Seifert, Joe Seifert, and Nick Seifert with Matthias McCarn

Synopsis: Step into Chicago during the 1960s and ‘70s, where mobsters influence everyone from strip-club owners to Teamsters, aldermen, judges, and local police. It is a world where good men are corrupted by the irresistible lure of money and power, and families are shattered by lies, violence, and tragedy.

Danny Seifert, a street-smart and ambitious young man, follows his father’s example in his efforts to provide a good, comfortable life for his wife and children. Soon, however, his path leads him toward the dark heart of the Mob. His career choices eventually bring him to a point where he must choose between loyalty to the Mob and probable prison time, or coming clean to the FBI, testifying against Mob leaders and risking retaliation to himself and his family. He chooses the latter, which ultimately leads to his murder and decades of living in fear for his widow, Emma, and their children.

As they grow into men, Danny’s sons, Joe and Nick, take it upon themselves to find the man responsible for their father’s death and make him pay. In seeking retribution for Danny, will they also succumb to lives of crime, or will they follow the high road of law and justice all the way to the Family Secrets trial in 2007, one of the largest Mob trials in history?

Find out in Deadly Associates, a meticulously researched and poignantly personal story of one family’s life inside and outside the Chicago Mob.

My thoughts: This is a very good true crime book about the Siefert family of Chicago. Danny Siefert got involved with the mob to fund his business for part ownership, thinking that he could manage them. When he found that he couldn’t stop them from taking it over, he’s forced to choose testifying for the FBI against them. Just before trial, he is shot to death at his business. The story details what his wife and children went through in the aftermath of his murder.

Deadly Associates

Publisher: WildBlue Press – 262 pages

Publication Date: Nov 26th, 2021

My rating: 5/5 STARS

About the author: Matthias McCarn is a professional writing consultant and published author. He currently lives in Chicago, IL, holds a BA and MA in English from DePaul University, and is certified by The University of Chicago as an editor. When he’s not riding his Harley Davidson, he’s loading up on espresso and writing about true crime.

Book Review ~ Patriot Gangster

Patriot Gangster: Volume 1, Evolution of an Outlaw

by Jeff “Twitch” Burns

Synopsis: This ground-breaking trilogy tells the incredible story of Jeff “Twitch” Burns’ twenty-two years in the one percent outlaw motorcycle club culture, his rise to become one of the most influential outlaw motorcycle club members in American history, and his fight to defend the Constitution and protect the culture he loved from a corrupt element of law enforcement bent on eradicating the motorcycle club culture at any cost.

Patriot Gangster is the very first work of its kind to pull the curtain back, reveal all the secrets, and tell the truth about American outlaw motorcycle club culture. Patriot Gangster uses the story of the author’s time in the outlaw motorcycle club culture combined with his 25 years of covert operations and law enforcement experience to explain the realities of Outlaw Motorcycle Club culture, while at the same time conducting a well-evidenced analysis of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMG) investigations and the indictments used to define the culture, many of which he was a target of, and it exposes an undeniable and shocking pattern of corruption and criminality by the undercover agents and their contract sources of information that demands congressional oversight and reform. This explosive trilogy is riveting, it systematically destroys the accepted narrative about outlaw motorcycle clubs, and effectively uses the authors personal and professional experience, never before seen personal photos, as well as the corrupt undercover agents own words, to establish that the real criminal organizations are the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMG) investigations and law enforcement that target the motorcycle clubs, and not the outlaw motorcycle clubs as we have been led to believe.

Patriot Gangster: Volume I, Evolution of an Outlaw; is the first book in the series and follows Twitch’s adventures from his entry into the outlaw motorcycle club culture through the birth of the American Motorcycle Profiling Movement, and the passing of the very first motorcycle profiling law in the United States.

My thoughts: I found this to be a very good read on the subject of outlaw motorcycle clubs by the author. He was involved in club culture for over 20 years, along with being a member of law enforcement. This put him in a unique position and gave him an inside view of things. He tells what its like being a prospect for a club, and how he earned his patch and became a member of his choice of clubs, the Outsiders. He was involved in getting the first two laws passed on motorcycle profiling by law enforcement in his state of Washington, the first of its kind. I’m looking forward to the next book in this trilogy. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Patriot Gangster

Publisher: Mountain House Media, 2nd Edition – 525 pages

Publication date: Dec 7th, 2021

My rating: 5/5 STARS

About the author: Without exception, Jeff “Twitch” Burns is the most authoritative Subject Matter Expert on Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs (OMC’s) and Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMG) Investigations in the world.  When it comes to his life in the outlaw motorcycle club world, Jeff was mentored by notorious Hells Angels enforcer’s “Mouldy Marvin” Gilbert and Josh Binder.  Jeff spent over twenty-two years as a prominent member of the outlaw motorcycle club world, and was a well-known and respected one-percenter (1%er) in arguably one of the most influential outlaw motorcycle clubs in the U.S.   He helped unify the motorcycle club community on the national level and helped pass the first two laws addressing Motorcycle Profiling by law enforcement in the United States (Washington & Maryland).  Jeff produced the award-winning guerrilla documentary What It’s All About, which chronicles the unification of the Washington state motorcycle clubs and the birth of the American Motorcycle Profiling Movement, and in 2014, he was nominated for induction into the American Motorcycle Hall of Fame in two categories: Leadership and Motorcycle Rights.
Professionally, Jeff is nationally and internationally recognized as an elite counter-terrorism expert and covert operator.  He has over twenty-five years of international high-threat protective services and covert operations experience in both the government and private sectors, which includes ten years of law enforcement experience conducting complex undercover operations.  Jeff has completed over 8,500 hours of advanced level special operations and law enforcement training, he is board-certified in Dignitary and Executive Protection (CDEP), a board-Certified Master Anti-Terrorism Specialist (CMAS), U.S. Department of State Worldwide Protective Services 2 (WPS2) qualified and holds numerous advanced special operations and firearms instructor certifications.

Book Review – Beautiful Ashes

Beautiful Ashes: A True Story of Murder, Betrayal, and One Woman’s Search for Peace

by Shelly Edwards Jorgensen

Synopsis: She watched as her mother’s body was removed from the ashes of her home . . .

Unbearable loss, dangerous secrets, and a life-threatening illness endangered her only hope for a future . . .

. . . But through it all, she found her faith.

When fifteen-year-old Shelly Edwards’s mother is murdered by her alcoholic father, she loses her home, her family, and the only life she’s ever known.

Abandoned, broken from abuse and assault, facing poverty, and gripped with fear for her life, Shelly struggles to dismantle decades of lies.

But into the deepening darkness that follows, God sends heavenly gifts, leading Shelly to a newfound faith. There she finds a peace she’s never thought possible.

When Shelly eventually meets the man she will marry, she thinks her life will finally be everything she’s ever dreamed of, but the lingering wounds of her past—and new, devastating medical complications—shake her faith. After all she’s endured, can she rise from the ashes and trust God once more?

You’ll be transformed by Shelly’s riveting memoir about how love, forgiveness, courage, determination—and the guidance of angels—can overcome even the greatest anguish.

My thoughts: This is such an incredible story, a memoir about daunting loss and trials in life. A struggle to hold onto hope and faith after Shelly lost her mother in a house fire at age 15. But that wasn’t the end of her challenges by far. Her story is inspiring and can give us all hope. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Beautiful Ashes

Publisher: BooksGoSocial – 392 pages

Publication Date: Apr 6th, 2022

My rating: 5/5 STARS

Book Review ~ The Other Dr. Gilmer

The Other Dr Gilmer: Two Men, a Murder, and an Unlikely Fight for Justice

by Benjamin Gilmer

Synopsis: A powerful true story about a shocking crime and a mysterious illness that will forever change your notions of how we punish and how we heal—an expansion on one of the most popular This American Life episodes of all time

Fresh out of medical residency, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer joined a rural North Carolina clinic only to find that its previous doctor shared his last name. Dr. Vince Gilmer was loved and respected by the community—right up until he strangled his ailing father and then returned to the clinic for a regular week of work. Vince’s eventual arrest for murder shocked his patients. Could their beloved doctor be capable of such violence? The deeper Benjamin looked into Vince’s case, the more he became obsessed with discovering what pushed a good man toward darkness.
When Benjamin visited Vince in prison, he met a man who appeared to be fighting his own mind, constantly twitching and veering into nonsensical tangents. Sentenced to life in prison, Vince had been branded a cold-blooded killer and a “malingerer”—a person who fakes an illness. But it was obvious to Benjamin that Vince needed help. Alongside This American Life journalist Sarah Koenig, Benjamin resolved to understand what had happened to his predecessor. Time and again, the pair came up against a prison system that cared little about the mental health of its inmates—despite more than a third of them suffering from mental illness.

The Other Dr. Gilmer
 takes readers on a thrilling and heart-wrenching journey through our shared human fallibility, made worse by a prison system that is failing our most vulnerable citizens. With deep compassion and an even deeper sense of justice, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer delves into the mystery of what could make a caring doctor commit a brutal murder. And in the process, his powerful story asks us to answer a profound question: In a country with the highest incarceration rates in the world, what would it look like if we prioritized healing rather than punishment?

My thoughts: Once I started reading this book, I realized that I’d already seen the story on a television crime show a couple of times. That didn’t detract from a very good, well written true crime story with much to recommend it. It really fleshed out the rest of the story for me. It’s sad and disturbing in what it reveals about life in prison for the mentally ill. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

The Other Dr. Gilmer

Publisher: Ballantine Books – 304 pages

Publication Date: Mar 1st, 2022

My rating: 5/5 STARS

About the author: Dr. Benjamin Gilmer is a family medicine physician in Fletcher, North Carolina. A former Albert Schweitzer fellow, he is an associate professor in the department of family medicine at the UNC School of Medicine at Chapel Hill and at the Mountain Area Health Education Center. A former neurobiologist turned rural family practitioner, Dr. Gilmer has lectured across the country about medical ethics, bias in medicine, and criminal justice reform. He lives with his wife and two children in Asheville, North Carolina.

Book Review – Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury: A Life, In His Own Words

by Freddie Mercury, Greg Brooks, and Simon Lupton

Synopsis: “Freddie Mercury: A Life, In His Own Words” is the nearest thing to Freddie’s autobiography as it is possible to achieve. A moving, witty, often irreverent collection of quotes (or interview transcript) from the man himself, covering an extraordinary life, meticulously edited together by Queen’s long time archivists, with a Foreword by Freddie’s mum. An essential read not just for fans of Queen and their iconic frontman, but anyone intrigued to know more about one of music’s most endearing and enduring performers.

Freddie rarely talked about himself to others, and so the relatively few interviews he did agree to – carefully compiled for this book, and some of them unpublished until now – provide an intriguing insight into a man who outwardly exuded confidence and arrogance, but behind the public perception, spent periods alone and searching for happiness. The truth was that Freddie was painfully shy and uncomfortable in the company of anyone who might intrude upon his famous ‘royal family’ of close friends and invited guests.

The book covers Freddie’s origins and history, many and various subjects in between, and of course covers the fascinating journey of Queen, all from his unique perspective. Spurred on by their almost uncontrollable ambitious and forthright front man, Queen succeeded in becoming one of the biggest bands on the planet. The story describes how on many occasions the group almost broke up, but was always kept together by their shared love of breaching musical boundaries. Freddie’s own personal story is one of pursuing a dream, dealing with wealth and fame, looking back and having no regrets, reflecting on getting old, his legacy, and death. A man determined to succeed to the point of willing to be “frivolous and preposterous” to win over an audience – “I love the feeling of it. It’s greater than sex!” But as the pages turn, we see a Freddie Mercury gradually changing the priorities in his life to one more sedate and necessarily changed by the cloud of the HIV/AIDS virus beginning to shadow the gay community.

For a man who seldom spoke, in “A Life, In His Own Words”, Freddie says it all: “There are times when I wake up and I think, “My God! I wish I wasn’t Freddie Mercury today.” In 20 chapters, 194 pages and nearly 73,000 words – and 45 years in the making – Freddie covers it all, and then some! And he does it, of course, in his own inimitable, unpredictable, invariably funny, often poignant, and always entertaining way. “I love the fact that I make people happy, in any form. Even if it’s just half an hour of their lives, if I can make them feel lucky or make them feel good, or bring a smile to a sour face, that to me is worthwhile.”

My thoughts: First published January 1st, 2006, this book on Freddie Mercury sounded pretty amazing. As I read through it, enjoying hearing about his life in his own words, it eventually did become repetitive. It began to feel like “blah, blah, blah”. It was a good concept I thought, but in execution wasn’t the book I had hoped for as a Freddie Mercury fan. I guess the fact that he’s gone and cannot write his own biography just leaves me sad and wanting the real story from him. Without any middle men just piecing together his interviews.

Freddie Mercury

Publisher: Mercury Songs, Ltd – 206 pages

Publication: Sept 5th, 2019

My rating: 3/5 STARS

Book Review – Bone Deep

Bone Deep: Untangling the Betsy Faria Murder

by Charles Henry Bosworth; Joel Schwartz


The explosive, first-ever insider’s account of the case that’s captivated millions – the murder of Betsy Faria and the wrongful conviction of her husband – told by Joel J. Schwartz, the defense attorney who fought for justice on behalf of Russel Faria, and New York Times bestselling author Charles Bosworth Jr.

Two days after Christmas, 2011, Russel Faria returned to his Troy, Missouri home to find his wife, Betsy, dead, a knife still lodged in her neck. She had been stabbed fifty-five times in a brutal murder that would set off a chain of events leading to one man’s wrongful conviction and imprisonment, another man’s death, the revelation of a diabolical scheme, and an astounding miscarriage of justice left unresolved for another ten years.

First responders concluded that Betsy was dead for hours when Russ discovered her. No blood was found implicating Russ, and surveillance video, receipts, and friends’ testimony all supported his alibi. Yet incredibly, police and the prosecuting attorney ignored the evidence. In their minds, Russ was guilty. But prominent defense attorney Joel J. Schwartz quickly recognized the real killer.

The motive was clear. Days before her murder, the terminally ill Betsy replaced her husband with her friend, Pamela Hupp, as her life insurance beneficiary. Still, despite the prosecution’s flimsy case and Hupp’s transparent lies, Russ was convicted—leaving Hupp free to kill again.

Bone Deep takes readers through the perfect storm of miscalculations and missteps that led to an innocent man’s conviction—and recounts Schwartz’s successful battle to have that conviction overturned. Written with Russ Faria’s cooperation, and filled with chilling new revelations and previously undisclosed evidence, this is the story of what can happen when police, prosecutor, judge, and jury all fail in their duty to protect the innocent—and let a killer get away with murder.

My thoughts: My, my, my! Such an evil story, yet true and fascinating. I hadn’t heard of this one prior to digging in, and it was such a good read. A man wrongly convicted of the murder of his already terminally ill wife Betsy. Russ Faria just couldn’t get a fair shake when it came to the investigation. A riveting book written by Faria’s defense attoryney Joel J. Schwartz. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Bone Deep

Publisher: Citadel Press – 320 pages

Publication Date: Feb 22nd, 2022

My rating: 5/5 STARS

About the author:

Charles Bosworth is a New York Times and Amazon bestselling author of six true-crime books, with millions of books in print, as ebooks, and audiobooks. He developed an expertise in writing about crime and the courts in twenty-seven years as a daily newspaper reporter, including twenty years with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He also has reported for the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He spent years in corporate communications with a number of global companies and a leading St. Louis law firm, and as a vice president for one of the world’s leading PR and communications agencies. He lives in Southwestern Illinois in the metro St. Louis area.
Joel J. Schwartz has spent thirty years exclusively as a criminal defense lawyer in the St. Louis region as a principal in Rosenblum, Schwartz & Fry, one of the area’s leading law firms. He has handled nearly every type of criminal case in state and federal circuit courts and appellate courts in Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, and Iowa, and has represented clients in California, Colorado, Texas, Arizona and Nebraska.  His recognized expertise in criminal law also has led to serving as a lecturer at legal educational institutions and a legal commentator for a number of news organizations. He earned his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. He has been consistently selected to the annual Super Lawyers list throughout his career, is a member of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers for the American Trial Lawyers Association, and is a lifetime member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He has appeared on Dateline NBC, 60 Minutes, CBS Morning NewsCNN, Fox News and countless local television news affiliates.

Book Review – Ruse

Ruse: Lying the American Dream from Hollywood to Wall Street

by Robert Kerbeck

Synopsis: B-list actor, A-list corporate spy

In the world of high finance, multibillion-dollar Wall Street banks greedily guard their secrets. Enter Robert Kerbeck, a working actor who made his real money lying on the phone, charming people into revealing their employers’ most valuable information. In this exhilarating memoir that will appeal to fans of The Wolf of Wall Street and Catch Me If You Can, unsuspecting receptionists, assistants, and bigshot executives all fall victim to “the Ruse.”

After college, Kerbeck rushed to New York to try to make it as an actor. But to support himself, he’d need a survival job, and before he knew it, while his pals were waiting tables, he began his apprenticeship as a corporate spy.
As his acting career started to take off, he found himself hobnobbing with Hollywood luminaries: drinking with Paul Newman, taking J.Lo to a Dodgers game, touring E.R. sets with George Clooney. He even worked with O.J. Simpson the week before he became America’s most notorious double murderer.
Before long, however, his once promising acting career slowed while the corporate espionage business took off. The ruse job was supposed to have been temporary, but Kerbeck became one of the world’s best practitioners of this deceptive—and illegal—trade. His income jumped from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars a year.
Until the inevitable crash…
Kerbeck shares the lies he told, the celebrities he screwed (and those who screwed him), the cons he ran, and the money he made—and lost—along the way.

My thoughts: I found this book fascinating. It was stranger than fiction with the surprises it revealed. A biography of how the author got seduced into the world of lying to get inside information, for profit. As well as how it takes over his entire life at one point. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Robert Kerbeck, and the publisher.


Publisher: Steerforth Press – 288 pages

Publication Date: Feb 1st, 2022

My rating: 5/5 STARS

About the author: Robert Kerbeck is the founder of the Malibu Writers Circle and a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. His first person account of the Woolsey Fire was read by over a million people as an Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times. Based on that essay, his debut book, Malibu Burning: The Real Story Behind LA’s Most Devastating Wildfire, won the 2020 IPPY Award as the Silver Medalist in Creative Nonfiction, the Readers’ Favorite Award as the Silver Medalist in Nonfiction Drama and the Best of LA award. Malibu Burning was also a Finalist for Foreword Book of the Year and the National Indie Excellence Awards.

Robert’s essays and short stories have been featured in numerous magazines and literary journals, including Narratively, Cimarron Review, Los Angeles Magazine, Shondaland, and The Normal School. One of his stories was adapted into the award-winning film, Reconnected, which has appeared at film festivals worldwide. A lifetime member of The Actors Studio, Robert has worked extensively in theater, film, and television, appearing in lead roles in major shows and earning several awards. His forthcoming memoir, RU$E: Lying the American Dream from Hollywood to Wall Street (Steerforth Press, Spring 2022), is a thrilling look into his career as a secret corporate spy. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Robert resides in Malibu. Learn more about him and his work at

Book Review ~ Shadow Man

Shadow Man: An Elusive Psycho Killer and the Birth of FBI Profiling

by Ron Franscell

The pulse-pounding account of the first time in history that the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit created a psychological profile to catch a serial killer

On June 25, 1973, a seven-year-old girl went missing from the Montana campground where her family was vacationing. Somebody had slit open the back of their tent and snatched her from under their noses. None of them saw or heard anything. Susie Jaeger had vanished into thin air, plucked by a shadow.

The largest manhunt in Montana’s history ensued, led by the FBI. As days stretched into weeks, and weeks into months, Special Agent Pete Dunbar attended a workshop at FBI Headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, led by two agents who had hatched a radical new idea: What if criminals left a psychological trail that would lead us to them? Patrick Mullany, a trained psychologist, and Howard Teten, a veteran criminologist, had created the Behavioral Science Unit to explore this new “voodoo” they called “criminal profiling.”

At Dunbar’s request, Mullany and Teten built the FBI’s first profile of an unknown subject: the UnSub who had snatched Susie Jaeger and, a few months later, a nineteen-year-old waitress. When a suspect was finally arrested, the profile fit him to a T..

My thoughts: This is another good true crime book by the author, this time about a twisted killer in Montana who triggered the very first criminal profile by the FBI. His crimes were particularly repulsive. When Special Agent Dunbar learns about the newest thing out of the Behavioral Science Unit, he asks them to use it to profile the person behind the crimes in Montana. This serial killer would be the first to be actively investigated using this method. Although Dunbar had some reservations, it worked so well, that criminal profiling became used much more in the future. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Ron Franscell, and the publisher.

Shadow Man

Publisher: Berkley – 304 pages

Publication Date: Mar 1st, 2022

My rating: 5/5 STARS

About the author: Ron has written 18 books. His writing has been compared to Truman Capote, Charles Frazier and Robert Olen Butler—diverse, poetic, evocative and muscular.

He burst onto the crime scene with THE DARKEST NIGHT (also titled FALL in a 2007 hardcover), which continues to be a bestselling true crime. This intensely personal nonfiction about a monstrous crime that touched his life as a child has been hailed by authors such as Ann Rule and Vincent Bugliosi, as well as critics, as a direct literary descendant of Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.”

Book Review ~ Enough Already

Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am

by Valerie Bertinelli

Synopsis: Beloved actress and New York Times best-selling author Valerie Bertinelli returns with a heartfelt look at turning sixty, the futility of finding happiness in numbers on a scale, learning to love herself the way she is today, and tips for a healthier outlook on life.

Valerie Bertinelli shares an inspiring blueprint that offers women in midlife support and hope. She shares personal stories that many women will relate to from her past decade: hitting her fifties, taking care of her dying mother, the evolving relationship with her husband, a career change, her relationship with food, and the battle to believe in herself as she is.

Despite her success receiving Emmys for her Food Network show and critical praise for her books and cookbook, Bertinelli still judged herself harshly if she gained a pound or showed too many wrinkles. But after her mother died, she found an old recipe box with notes of the strong women that came before her, reminding her that she has to find out who she is and take care of herself. Saying, “enough already!” Bertinelli set out on a journey to love herself and see that perfection is not the goal; it’s the joy we can find every day in our lives, our loved ones, and the food we share. Recipes and advice will be sprinkled throughout the book.

My thoughts: This is the 2nd book I’ve ready by Bertinelli and I really enjoyed them both. I like her writing and how she tells about her life, challenges, and her deep dive into cooking. I found some of her recipes throughout the book. She also shares about her relationships with her son, ex-husband Eddie Van Halen, and others. This book is also about her getting over the life-long diet habit and accepting herself as she is. A very good memoir. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Valerie Bertinelli, and the publisher.

Enough Already

Publisher: Mariner Books – 304 pages

Publication Date: Jan 18th, 2022

My rating: 5/5 STARS

About the author: VALERIE BERTINELLI is an actress and TV personality, best known for starring in the 70’s sitcom One Day at a Time. She now hosts the Emmy Award–winning Food Network show Valerie’s Home Cooking as well as Kids Baking Championship. She is the author of Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time, and the follow-up Finding It: And Satisfying My Hunger for Life without Opening the Fridge, as well as Valeries Home Cooking and One Dish at a Time.