BOOK REVIEW ~ Alice & Gerald

Alice & Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story



This is a rather creepy case in Wyoming that goes cold, brought to us by author Ron Franscell. I’ve read and really liked his true crime in the past, and decided to buy this 2019 paperback to read at leisure. Some of the main players are really twisted in this one, and the game playing between exes gets nauseating at times, but that’s how it is for some folks in the real world when kids are pawns.  A good true crime story by a very good true crime writer, worth a read.





Written by Ron Franscell
Publisher: Prometheus Books – 336 pages
Published: April 9, 2019
My rating: 5/5 Stars


The Author- “Alice & Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story” (Prometheus Books) explores a grisly, real-life case of murder and perverse devotion. “Alice & Gerald” features a femme fatale whose manipulative, cold-blooded character rivals Lady Macbeth, this page-turner by bestselling true-crime author Ron Franscell revisits a shocking cold case that was finally solved just when the murderers thought they’d never be caught.

Ron Franscell’s writing has been compared to Truman Capote, Charles Frazier and Robert Olen Butler–diverse, poetic, evocative and muscular. His widely acclaimed 2016 true crime, MORGUE: A LIFE IN DEATH (co-authored with renowned medical examiner Dr. Vincent Di Maio) was nominated for an Edgar in 2017.

This lifelong newspaperman burst onto the literary scene in 1998 with his first novel ANGEL FIRE, a poignant, mythic tale of two brothers wrestling with personal ghosts in the small town where they grew up. ANGEL FIRE was subsequently named among the San Francisco Chronicle’s 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century West.

After his 1999 mystery, THE DEADLINE, Ron became a senior writer for the Denver Post, writing about the entangled past, present and future of the American West. THE DEADLINE and its sequel, THE OBITUARY, have been re-published in print and digital editions by WildBlue Press, one of the most innovative new publishing ventures in America.

In 2008, his first nonfiction, THE DARKEST NIGHT, won rave reviews from true-crime legends Ann Rule, Vincent Bugliosi and Gerry Spence. The book explored a monstrous crime against two of Ron’s childhood friends in the small town where they grew up, and how that crime has echoed across almost four decades. It is now a national bestseller.


BOOK REVIEW ~ Beast of New Castle

Beast of New Castle: The Heart-Pounding Battle To Stop A Savage Killer


A second book by Larry Sells and Margie Porter, this one deals with a brutal killer named Jerry Thompson. Crimes and death appear to follow in his wake. He seems driven by rage born in his younger years that he can’t ignore or outrun. This book focuses on a couple of specific murders and the follow up investigation, and finally the trials, prosecuted by Larry Sells. This guy is one of the bad guys, and he would have just kept on killing if these guys hadn’t put him away. He is one scary dude as you will see if you read this one. He doesn’t even need a reason to kill, he just needs an occasion, which he can invent if needed.



Written by Larry Sells & Margie Porter
Publisher: WildBlue Press – 258 pages
Publication: Feb 18, 2020
My rating: 5/5 Stars


The Authors- Larry Sells prosecutes murderers in Indianapolis, Indiana. He has been interviewed on Investigation Discovery, America’s Most Wanted, Oxygen: Snapped, and Sally Jesse Raphael. In Beast of New Castle, he allows readers to face the most terrifying killer he ever battled in the courtroom- at a safe distance, of course.

Margie Porter co-authored Race to Justice with Larry Sells and has returned to document the horrors of a much more dangerous criminal. Margie resides in Indiana, where she cut her teeth as a newspaper feature writer.



BOOK REVIEW ~ The Kidnap Years

The Kidnap Years: The Astonishing True History of the Forgotten Kidnapping Epidemic That Shook Depression-Era America


This book takes you back to the 1930s and headline making kidnapping cases as it follows them from start to finish. The kidnappings became so common and got so out of hand that something had to be done. It took the death of the Lindbergh baby for a real change in the law to happen. I enjoyed this book, reading about the crime in that decade, though I was familiar with several of the cases already there was information that was new to me. The kidnappers were as different as their selected victims were. I read a book on the kidnapping of one of the Busch beer clan awhile back that was very good.

Many of the gangsters were into bootlegging, and with the end of Prohibition coming, they were worried about that loss of very good income. So they began branching out into kidnapping to create a new revenue stream. One of the aspects of kidnappings that I loathe is the ones who kidnap the victim and kill them right away and dump the body because they are too lazy to even bother with taking care of a hostage. What a nuisance, they figure. So, without even waiting to see if the family is going to pay or not, one side’s treated like they have done something wrong and assassinated an innocent party for no reason. Which, of course is not discovered until after the ransom money is paid and the kidnappers believe that they are safely away, and at times are. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author David Stout, and the publisher.







Publisher: Sourcebooks – 464 pages
Publication: April 7th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 Stars


The Author- DAVID STOUT, an Edgar Award winner, is a reporter for the New York Times and has written frequently on criminal justice issues. He is the author of several books, including two of which were adapted for network-television movies.



BOOK REVIEW ~ Boots in the Ashes

Boots in the Ashes: Busting Bombers, Arsonists and Outlaws as a Trailblazing Female ATF Agent

An interesting biography of a woman who tackles a career as an ATF agent when women agents were still fairly rare. I love stories about groundbreakers like these. Despite some pushback from some Neanderthal type men, most of them carry on and continue, going on to have excellent careers. Caroline Beebe was doing well in her job, quickly learning as she worked on cases of arson, guns, bombs, drugs and conspiracy. There were also times that they worked guarding different government officials, including the Vice President and President and the presidential candidates during election years, working with the secret service.

She recounts some fascinating cases she worked on, like a mentally ill bomber who lived in a shack. He was suspected of having planted bombs that blew up the homes of two judges, one while the family was home. She went out to interview him and he did his best to convince her that he was God, among other things. She also questioned him about the many ranting, threatening letters he sent to people all the time.

I really enjoyed this book, reading about her different cases as she investigated and built them towards prosecution. Bombings and arson cases. Really fascinating to me, if you’re into this kind of stuff, check it out and see what you think. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Cynthia Beebe, and the publisher.



The publisher:  Center Street – 304 pages
Publication:  Feb 25, 2020
My rating:  4/5 Stars

The Author- Cynthia Beebe is a retired Senior Special Agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). She spent 27 years investigating bombings, arson, murder, illegal firearms, gangs and other crimes. Her cases were chronicled in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Ladies Home Journal, and were covered on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and 48 Hours. She was the first woman to earn the coveted “Top Gun” award at the ATF Academy, where she later worked as an instructor. Beebe is a member of the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators, the International Association of Arson Investigators and Women in Federal Law Enforcement. She has a B.A. in English Literature and a Master’s Degree in Journalism, both from Northwestern University, which she attended on an athletic scholarship. Since her retirement she has appeared as an expert commentator on law enforcement issues for WGN radio and television. She lives with her son in a suburb of Chicago.

BOOK REVIEW ~ The Louvre

The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum

This is an amazingly detailed book relating the history behind the place known as the Louvre, and the evolution of its buildings and land. There is also discussion of the different rulers during each period and what changes they made, if any on the property. Very well written, but at times so scholarly that it could be difficult to maintain my level of alertness. If there is anything you ever need to know about the building of, and/or changes made to the Louvre, the is the book for you.

While I enjoyed the book, it’s top notch, I think I was hoping for more of a virtual visit type book, which I’m sure are out there if I make the effort to look. You see, I went on a trip to London, Belgium, and Paris when I was about 12 years old with a group of other students, and while in Paris. I foolishly opted out of a chance to go to the Louvre, not understanding the significance of it.

Of course later on, I realized what I had passed up. Granted, a short visit would not have done it justice at all, but would have been better than nothing. I really had hoped to one day be able to return now that I’m aware of more of the history behind the treasures I would be looking at. I was just getting into that type of history when I went. So I’m enjoying this book a lot, but I also hope to find the other kind, until I hopefully get a chance to return and explore it for myself. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author James Gardner, and the publisher.




Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press  –  416 pages
Expected Publication:  May 15th, 2020
My rating:  4/5 Stars


The Author-  James Gardner is an American art critic and literary critic based in New York and Buenos Aires and the author, most recently, of Buenos Aires: The Biography of a City. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, and the British Spectator. He was the art critic at the New York Post and wrote architecture criticism for the New York Observer, before serving as the architecture critic at the New York Sun. He is now a contributing editor at The Magazine Antiques. This is his sixth book.


BOOK REVIEW ~ The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year


This was my first book/novel/audiobook by Sue Townsend and I enjoyed it quite well. I’ll have to check out her other work when I get a chance between my regular true crime reads and memoirs. This one is about a fifty-year-old mom, Eva Beaver, who, after her twins leave for university decides she needs to take to her bed for a serious think. She wants to really figure out who she is, and what’s next now. As you might imagine, those around her aren’t too thrilled or supportive, but she’s as serious as it gets.

The narrator, Caroline Quentin, did a fantastic job on this I felt, which made it all the more enjoyable for me. I’m rather sensitive to voices and they can make or break a story so easily. It’s hard to imagine anyone doing this better now.

This book really had divided reviews for some reason. Quite a few people read it and didn’t like it. I guess it hit a hot button in them somehow. Which seems kind of strange, considering the book won some awards. And all of the people who read it and liked/loved it. I always find that interesting and wonder what there was about it that divided people.




Written by Sue Townsend
Format:   Audiobook
Narrated by Caroline Quentin

Publisher:   Clipper Audio
Published:   2012
My rating:  4/5 Stars


The Author-   Susan Lillian “Sue” Townsend is a British novelist, best known as the author of the Adrian Mole series of books. Her writing tends to combine comedy with social commentary, though she has written purely dramatic works as well. She suffered from diabetes for many years, as a result of which she was registered blind in 2001, and has woven this theme into her work.


MINI BOOK REVIEW ~ The Black Widow

The Black Widow: The Life and Crimes of Linda Calvey


This is the latest of my British True Crime reads, this one is written by one of Ronnie Kray’s exwives about a woman who later became an armed robber herself. She also became Ronnie Krays’ common-law wife later. Linda Calvey is quite something and makes for an interesting read, for sure. It’s not only from a different country, it’s from a different crime era. If you want a very different type of true crime read, this would be it. It took me a while to find a nice used hardcover copy like I wanted, but I found one at a decent price, I just had to wait for it to ship from Great Britain. I’m very satisfied with the book and the story.





Written by Kate Kray
Published by: Headline Book Publications – 256 pages
Published: Jul 1, 2002
My rating: 4/5 Stars


KATE KRAY, is the widow of paranoid schizophrenic gangland twin Ronnie. She now researches and writes books on the British gangland underworld. Her latest effort, Hard Bastards, is a profile of 24 of Britain’s toughest men.






BOOK REVIEW ~ “Promise Me You’ll Shoot Yourself”

“Promise Me You’ll Shoot Yourself” : The Mass Suicide of Ordinary Germans in 1945


Just the title of this book, of course grabs you, but once you fully realize what the subject matter is you prepare to settle down for a serious read. And this is truly a serious story that has needed to be shared for a long time. Maybe it was waiting for the right author, or perhaps the time wasn’t right. That’s kind of hard to believe though, as long as it’s been now. But the stage is set, and its time the world knows about this, or at least the parts that didn’t already.

I personally have read my share of books about WWII and the holocaust, and I’ve never run into any mention of this story before. I’ve never seen it discussed online when discussions were being had about those kinds of books either. So I was blown away to read this well-researched book about the suicides of so many regular German people (non-Nazis). Juxtaposed to that, it also follows along with a few folks who became invested in the whole Hitler message. Some as part of the Hitler Youth programs, and some as adults. They became true believers.

I recommend this book for anyone, history lovers, WWII buffs, those who read holocaust memoirs, It’s just such a compelling story. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Florian Huber, and the publisher.




Publisher: Little, Brown Spark – 304 pages
Expected Publication: Mar 10th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 Stars

The Author-   Florian Huber is a writer and documentary maker. He was born in Nuremberg in 1967. He has written four books about German history of which this is the first to be to be translated. He lives in Hamburg.


MINI BOOK REVIEW ~ Wake Up Wanda Wiley

I liked the cover of this one, it grabbed my eye and made me want to investigate further. So I jumped inside and stared reading about who Wanda is and got pulled into the story.

It’s kind of quirky, but by the time I got it all down and knew what was happening, I found I wanted to keep going, especially by the end of the excerpt. There’s some good bantering between the two characters, and it makes you want to see how things develop as the story continues. There is an odd vein of humor running through it also, and that helps keep my interest in the story line too. Plus the talk of this mysterious author, Wanda, who is having such a hard time and her poor characters are the worse for it. I’m curious if she gets herself together or keeps her ‘people’ messed up, such as they are.





Publisher:  Stolen Time Press – 154 pages

Published:  Nov 1st, 2019

My rating:  3/5 Stars

The Author–   Andrew Diamond writes mystery, crime, noir, and an occasional comedy.His books feature cinematic prose, strong characterization, twisting plots, and dark humor. Amazon editors named Impala a best of the month mystery, and IndieReader named it to their best of 2016 list. Impala also won the Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal for mystery and the 24th Annual Writer’s Digest award for genre fiction.

Gate 76 won the eLit Book Award Silver Medal for mystery, thriller, and suspense. called it one of the year’s best thrillers, and the book was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2018.

Kirkus Reviews called To Hell with Johnny Manic “a feverishly readable psychological noir”, and added it to their best of 2019 list. His most recent work, Wake Up, Wanda Wiley, is a comedy poking fun at the tropes of the romance and thriller genres.

You can follow Andrew online at or at


BOOK REVIEW ~ The Hostage Rescuer

The Hostage Rescuer:  The Return of a Child into a Mother’s Arms


I found this to be an excellent story with lots of tension along the way about a hostage kidnap situation that builds during surveillance. The author travels from Australia to the staging site in Greece early with the kidnap victim’s mother Diane, to scope things out and see if things will be possible at all or not. They become friends from the extra time spent together, and it’s difficult not to like her and feel for her difficult position It’s kind of bizarre that there are businesses like these available, but they have been made necessary unfortunately, and do have a decent rate of success, at least the good ones do.

The story is well written and stays suspenseful as you wait with Darren, the mother Diane, and the two others who show up to help try to get her son Theo back too. It’s right down to the wire as to whether they will have a chance to get him back, or will they be caught by the father’s family, who are all over the place, looking for anything out of the ordinary, to alert everyone to close ranks and get the boy safely inside until the danger passes. A very interesting look at the inside of a hostage rescue case, and many of stresses and concerns on both sides of it that you may not have realized before. Especially in the case of a split family, where the parents have divorced and even possibly remarried others, and one former spouse has failed to return the child after a visit of several weeks in his home country with him. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors Darren Franklin, and the publisher.




Publisher: Pen & Sword True Crime – 224 pages
Publication: Feb 28th, 2020
My rating: 4/ 5 Stars


The Author – With a career in the military, police and private security, Darren has adventure coursing through his veins, which is perhaps not surprising. He is descended from a British explorer whose heroic death was the talk of Victorian society and whose name is commemorated not just in Westminster Abbey but in the Oval Office of the White House.

Contributor-   Martin Phillips is a British Press Awards-nominated former national newspaper journalist  with 33 years experience in Fleet Street and a string of extraordinary adventures of his own behind him.