Book Review ARC ~ Deer Creek Drive

Deer Creek Drive: A Reckoning of Memory and Murder in the Mississippi Delta

by Beverly Lowry


SYNOPSIS – The stunning true story of a murder that rocked the Mississippi Delta and forever shaped one author’s life and perception of home.

In 1948, in the most stubbornly Dixiefied corner of the Jim Crow south, society matron Idella Thompson was viciously murdered in her own home: stabbed at least 150 times and left facedown in one of the bathrooms. Her daughter, Ruth Dickins, was the only other person in the house. She told authorities a Black man she didn’t recognize had fled the scene, but no evidence of the man’s presence was uncovered. When Dickins herself was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, the community exploded. Petitions pleading for her release were drafted, signed, and circulated, and after only six years, the governor of Mississippi granted Ruth Dickins an indefinite suspension of her sentence and she was set free.
 
In Deer Creek Drive, Beverly Lowry—who was ten at the time of the murder and lived mere miles from the Thompsons’ home—tells a story of white privilege that still has ramifications today, and reflects on the brutal crime, its aftermath, and the ways it clarified her own upbringing in Mississippi.


MY THOUGHTS – The author shares how she was affected by a murder from her childhood when a woman was brutally murdered not far from where she lived. Lowry was 10 when it occurred. It showed how family connections played a role back then, but is more about the unspoken white privilege that affected many. Shades of Susan Smith in 1994, blaming a black man for her crime. But this victim’s daughter was released by the Governor after people protested by way of petitions. Good story but a bit tedious at times. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


DEER CREEK DRIVE

PUBLISHER – Knopf – 368 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – Aug 2nd, 2022

MY RATING – 3/5 STARS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – BEVERLY LOWRY is the author of six novels and four previous works of nonfiction. Her writing has appeared in The New YorkerThe New York TimesThe Boston GlobeVanity FairRolling StoneMississippi ReviewGranta, and many other publications. She has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. She lives in Austin, Texas.


Book Review ARC ~ The Decision to Kill

The Decision to Kill: A True Crime Story of a Teenage Killer and the Mother Who Loved Him

by Leslie Ghiglieri


SYNOPSIS -A family tragedy propels this gripping true crime debut as a mother searches for answers in the shocking murder of her husband—and conviction of her son.

In the early morning of October 18, 1986, Cherie Wier’s life collapses when her teenage son takes the life of her beloved husband. For years, Cherie grapples with events preceding and following the crime, struggling to overcome the consuming grief she suffers from her loss and the difficulty she faces as she attempts to forgive her son. The courtroom accounts of gruesome details and the shocking testimonies from experts, only add to Cherie’s yearning to make sense of the crime. She is tormented, wanting to know how and WHY this tragedy happened and if there was anything she could have done to prevent it .


MY THOUGHTS – An amazing true crime book written by the author who was friends with the mother in the story. Ghiglieri committed to writing the book and they got together and worked on it while Cherie Weir was ill and undergoing treatment. Rare insights using letters between mother and son give a side of the story that’s not often seen. Weir looks back asking herself if she could have forseen her adopted son one day murdering her husband. Shows the struggle the couple went through trying to help this difficult son but wouldn’t give up. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


THE DECISION TO KILL


PUBLISHER – WildBlue Press – 340 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – June 21st, 2022

MY RATING – 5/5 STARS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – A devoted reader of classics and nonfiction, Leslie was initially employed as a 911 dispatcher in California where she was immediately addicted to the unpredictability of police work. After moving to Oregon, she joined the Josephine County sheriff’s department working in the dispatch and warrants division for three years. Subsequently, Leslie accepted a position as a field representative for a criminal justice computer system overseeing the needs of 17 agencies. Now retired, interest in reading, law-enforcement work, and recreational writing has resulted in Leslie fulfilling the wish of a friend who asked her to document the story of her husband’s murder. This book not only tells readers intimate details of the crime, but more importantly, shares a surprising message of encouragement with those whose loved ones suffer from addiction and mental health disorders. Leslie still lives in southern Oregon with her husband and her German Shepherd Dog, Schatzi.

Book ARC Review ~ Retail Gangster

Retail Gangster: The Insane, Real Life Story of Crazy Eddie

by Gary Weiss


Synopsis – A biography of the spectacular rise and fall of Eddie Antar, better known as “Crazy Eddie,” whose home electronics empire changed the world even as it turned out to be one of the biggest business scams of all time

Back in the fall of 2016 we heard the news about the passing of Eddie Antar, “Crazy Eddie” as he was known to millions of people, the man behind the successful chain of electronic stores and one of the most iconic ad campaigns in history. Few things evoke the New York of a particular era the way “Crazy Eddie! His prices are insaaaaane!” does. The journalist Herb Greenberg called his death the “end of an era” and that couldn’t be more true. What’s insane is that his story has never been told.

Before Enron, before Madoff, before The Wolf of Wall Street, Eddie Antar’s corruption was second to none. The difference was that it was a street franchise, a local place that was in the blood stream of everyone’s daily life in the 1970s and early ’80s. And Eddie pulled it off with a certain style, an in your face blue collar chutzpah. Despite the fact that then U.S. Attorney Michael Chertoff called him “the Darth Vader of capitalism” after the extent of the fraud was revealed, one of the largest SEC frauds in American history after Crazy Eddie’s stores went public in 1984, Eddie was talked about fondly by the people who worked for him. They still do–there are myriads of ex-Crazy Eddie employee web pages that still attract fans, and the Crazy Eddie fraud scheme is now taught in every business school across the United States.  

Many years have passed since the franchise went down in spectacular fashion but Crazy Eddie’s moment has endured the way that iconic brands and characters do–one only need Google the media outpouring that accompanied his death. Maybe it’s because it crystallized everything about 1970s New York almost perfectly, the merchandise and rise of consumer electronics (stereos!), the ads (cheesy!), the money (cash!). In Retail Gangster, investigative journalist Gary Weiss takes readers behind the scenes of one of the most unbelievable business scam stories of all time, a story spanning continents and generations, reaffirming the old adage that the truth is often stranger than fiction.


My thoughts – I was somewhat aware of the Crazy Eddie type advertising back in the day. But I didn’t know about the story of the electronic business and what it really was, namely a scam run by the owners. It reached some amazing highs, but eventually imploded. Wonderfully researched and an interesting read. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


RETAIL GANGSTER

Publisher – Hachette Books – 336 pages

Publication date – Aug 23rd, 2022

My rating – 4/5 STARS


About the author – Gary Weiss has been an investigative journalist and author covering corruption of Wall Street for over 40 years. His pieces have been essential reading ever since Warren Buffett cited his Business Week bond trading scandal article before Congress in 1991. Born and raised in the Bronx, Gary remains an essential NYC fixture. 


Book Review ~ All Along the Watchtower

All Along the Watchtower: Murder at Fort Devens

by William J. Craig


Synopsis – A penetrating look into the controversy that enshrouds one of the most complex criminal cases in US history: a former Green Beret’s murder of his wife.

It was a dreary winter afternoon in Ayer, Massachusetts, a quintessential New England town, the type which is romanticized in Robert Frost’s poems. But on January 30, 1979, a woman’s scream was heard piercing the northeast tempest wind.

In an unassuming apartment building on Washington Street, Elaine Tyree, a mother, wife, and US Army soldier, had her life brutally ripped from her. Her husband, William Tyree, a Special Forces soldier, was convicted of this heinous murder, which he has always vehemently denied.

Some elements of this case seem to be chilling echoes of the Jeffrey MacDonald case, made famous in the book and film Fatal Vision. A military doctor and US Army Captain, MacDonald was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters but always maintained his innocence. As in the MacDonald case, the case against William Tyree raises questions as to whether the government and military suppressed evidence that could prove his innocence.

The Tyree case sent a shockwave through the idyllic community of Ayer, the United States Army, and the judicial system of Massachusetts. This case provoked suspicions of judicial misconduct, government cover-up, clandestine Black Ops by the military, and various conspiracy theories ultimately implicating “Deep State” involvement.

The events that took place that fateful day, the subsequent courtroom showdown, and the ongoing legal battles raise provocative questions that continue to revolve around this case to this day.


My thoughts – A detailed look at such a crazy case in the death of Elaine Tyree, a soldier who was murdered in her off base apartment. A lot of research went into this story of cover ups, poor investigations, and railroading that left her husband Bill convicted. There’s a lot of explanations of military procedures, etc. I received a review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


All Along the Watchtower

Publisher – WildBlue Press – 275 pages

Publication date – June 7th, 2022

My rating – 4/5 STARS


About the author – I am a full time author. I learned the craft of writing as an apprentice under my cousin William Craig, who wrote The Fall Of Japan, Enemy at the Gates and the Tashkent Crisis. I am always working on one project or another. I am also available for speaking engagements and research. I served twelve years in the military. My first enlistment was in the U.S. Army where I served in Operation Dessert Storm with the 82nd Airborne, then I served with the 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Devens until I was deployed and assigned to 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta in Mogadishu. My next enlistment was with the United States Air Force as a crew chief for the next eight years. After being discharged I attended Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts where I majored in History and graduated in 2005. I currently reside in North Kansas City, Missouri with my wife and two daughters Meadow and Danica. In my off time I enjoy traveling, hiking, camping, boating and playing golf.


Book Review – Dominatrix on Trial

Dominatrix on Trial: How a Canadian Dominatrix Fought the Law and Won

by Terri-jean Bedford


SYNOPSIS – Terri-Jean Bedford was one of Canada’s most notorious citizens–but few know her under that name. As Madame deSade, however, she was Canada’s most famous leather-clad dominatrix, a well-known public figure appearing on the evening news as she took on the Canadian legal establishment to ultimately change sex worker law throughout the country.

Born into abject poverty, this bi-racial girl was placed into a foster home at six, where she was abused. She was later moved into various children’s homes and lived there until she was 16, when she left to make it on her own. She survived by working numerous unskilled jobs, until she entered the world of prostitution.

Her talents and interests helped her move into the elite world of the professional dominatrix, after which life was never the same. Located just outside of Toronto, her elaborate Bondage Bungalow became the target of a spectacular raid. Six highly publicized years of trials and appeals later, she was convicted under bawdy-house laws and paid a small fine. In 1999, she opened a similar facility in downtown Toronto, one that closed without police interference in 2002.

A few years later she was at the center of Bedford vs. Canada, a five-year constitutional challenge to Canada’s sex trade laws. The Supreme Court vindicated her struggles. A mother and grandmother, she still advocates and writes for sex worker rights. Despite her at times heart-breaking story and declining health, she says she is going out a winner.

She remains a vocal advocate for civil rights and the disenfranchised. She has been a plaintiff in a major constitutional challenge, and, as a result, Canada’s prostitution laws were struck down in 2010.

A play based on her life story is currently in production in Windsor, Canada in 2022.


MY THOUGHTS – I found this to be a super interesting look into this woman’s life. Her choosing to be a dominatrix is all good, and she became a very good one. The problems begin when her place is raided, and she and the other workers are charged with providing sex acts for money. But sex acts were not involved in what they did at her place, they were in fact something that would get a person banned. With some great supporters, Bedford was eventually able to change the landscape of how sex workers are treated. It was a long battle, but she finally set things straight. I received a review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


DOMINATRIX ON TRIAL


PUBLISHER – Riverdale Avenue Books – 322 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – April 25th, 2022

MY RATING- 5/5 STARS


ARC Book Review ~ We Carry Their Bones

We Carry Their Bones: The Search for Justice at the Dozier School for Boys

by Erin R. Kimmerle


SYNOPSIS – Forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle investigates of the notorious Dozier Boys School–the true story behind the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Nickel Boys–and the contentious process to exhume the graves of the boys buried there in order to reunite them with their families.

The Arthur G. Dozier Boys School was a well-guarded secret in Florida for over a century, until reports of cruelty, abuse, and “mysterious” deaths shut the institution down in 2011. Established in 1900, the juvenile reform school accepted children as young as six years of age for crimes as harmless as truancy or trespassing. The boys sent there, many of whom were Black, were subject to brutal abuse, routinely hired out to local farmers by the school’s management as indentured labor, and died either at the school or attempting to escape its brutal conditions.

In the wake of the school’s shutdown, Erin Kimmerle, a leading forensic anthropologist, stepped in to locate the school’s graveyard to determine the number of graves and who was buried there, thus beginning the process of reuniting the boys with their families through forensic and DNA testing. The school’s poorly kept accounting suggested some thirty-one boys were buried in unmarked graves in a remote field on the school’s property. The real number was at least twice that. Kimmerle’s work did not go unnoticed; residents and local law enforcement threatened and harassed her team in their eagerness to control the truth she was uncovering–one she continues to investigate to this day.

We Carry Their Bones is a detailed account of Jim Crow America and an indictment of the reform school system as we know it. It’s also a fascinating dive into the science of forensic anthropology and an important retelling of the extraordinary efforts taken to bring these lost children home to their families–an endeavor that created a political firestorm and a dramatic reckoning with racism and shame in the legacy of America.


MY THOUGHTS – I found this author is just amazing at what she does for a living and how she fought to the end to get answers. She helped many family members who had lost their boys at this awful facility in northern Florida. The book has lots of background and history of the area and the school. The things that went on there were more than cringe-worthy. I liked learning about how they do a dig and later process what they find. Excellent read for the times. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


WE CARRY THEIR BONES


PUBLISHER – William Morrow – 320 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – June 14th, 2022

MY RATING – 5/5 STARS


Book Review ~ Carmine and the 13th Ave. Boys

Carmine and the 13th Ave Boys: Surviving Brooklyn’s Colombo Gang

by Craig McGuire


SYNOPSIS – This is the true story of Carmine Imbriale – a gambler, a brawler, a bandit, a bookie, an enforcer. For two decades, Imbriale was a street-level operative in one of the most violent crews in the Colombo Family, and he endeared himself to some of the major figures of organized crime while developing deadly disputes with others.


Now in hiding, Imbriale teams up with true-crime veteran writer Craig McGuire to take you inside the 13th Avenue rackets at the height of their violence. This is the jarring account of his lawless lifestyle culminating in a gang war in South Brooklyn, from which he emerges a survivor.


From his first arrest at 15 for robbing a Coney Island pimp to surviving multiple assassination attempts, Imbriale offers up dozens of too-good-to-be-true tales featuring some of the most notorious gangsters, including Joe Colombo, Christie Tick, Jimmy Ida, Joe Waverly, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, Johnny Rizzo, as well as other lions and lackeys of La Cosa Nostra, and details a beef with none other than Greg “The Grim Reaper” Scarpa Sr.

A young streetwise hustler, Imbriale thought he found loyalty, a brotherhood. Instead, he descended into a world of treachery and deceit, where your best friend is your executioner, and no one gets out alive. But no one expected him to become the domino that helped bring it all down.

 


MY THOUGHTS – This is a good book about Carmine Imbriale’s incredible, crazy, mob career in South Brooklyn. It’s filled with people, places and events that many will find notorious. It’s amazing the number of mob guys that he knew and interacted with. He survived an era that most didn’t. They were either killed, or went off to a long prison term. Told in a stubborn, tough guy fashion. But it also shows his generous side to those who were struggling. A super mob book if you can keep all of the players straight.


Carmine and the 13th Ave Boys


PUBLISHER – WildBlue Press – 376pages

PUBLICATION DATE – April 24th, 2022

MY RATING – 4/5 STARS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Published author (most recently, “Brooklyn’s Most Wanted – The Top 100 Criminals, Crooks & Creeps from the County of the Kings“), Craig has been a successful writer, editor, designer, photographer, community reporter, new media journalist and consultant for the last 25 years.

Craig has overseen content development for all different types of media, from web portals to newsletters to social media programs. Partial list of titles include: Institutional Investor magazine, InternetNews.com, Irish America, The Real Deal, Digital Media Buzz, Wall Street & Technology, PR Week, @Night Media, and more..


Book Review ~ True Crime Stories You Won’t Believe

True Crime Stories You Won’t Believe: A Cavalcade of Chaotic Justice

by Romeo Vitelli


SYNOPSIS – Here is a collection of true crime stories from different countries and time periods that defy simple description. They include:

  • The strange tale of a psychotic geisha who severed her lover’s genitals to carry as a token of her love and who inspired a cult following
  • How a small-town murderer helped inspire the movie Psycho and left his hometown with a reputation they never lived down
  • A father who sacrificed his daughter to prove his faith in God and his followers who fully expected her to be raised on the third day (she wasn’t)
  • A Sorbonne graduate student who killed and cannibalized the woman he loved and went on to become a bizarre media celebrity
  • A 19th century serial killer who earned the title of “the worst women in the world” by killing a series of husbands for profit
  • The assassination attempt on John F. Kennedy you never heard about but which very nearly succeeded.
  • George Stinney, the fourteen-year-old child who died in the electric chair for a crime he didn’t commit.
  • Joseph Vacher, the “French Ripper” whose crimes shocked France but tried to blame it all on the rabid dog that bit him.
  • How mob boss Vincent Gigante earned himself the nickname of “the Oddfather”
  • Leonarda Cianciulli, the Corregio “Soapmaker” who killed three women as a sacrifice to protect her own children.

These stories, and more, are all featured here making this book a must for any connoisseur of true crime and bizarre justice.


MY THOUGHTS – Well written, interesting look at some true crime stories. Most are a bit obscure and less well known. A few are more common to true crime fans. I read quite a few stories here that I saw for the first time. But a couple of the more ‘rare’ ones I had already read about as well. Worth a read if the subject interests you. I received a review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


TRUE CRIME STORIES YOU WON’T BELIEVE


PUBLISHER – Providentia Books – 185 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – April 4th, 2022

MY RATING – 4/5 STARS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Romeo Vitelli received his doctorate in Psychology from York University in Toronto, Ontario in 1987. He spent 15 years as a staff psychologist in Millbrook Correctional Centre, a maximum-security prison run by the Ontario government. In 2003, he went into full-time private practice and has been an avid blogger since 2007.


ARC Book Review ~ All Signs Point to Paris

All Signs Point to Paris: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Destiny

by Natasha Sizlo


SYNOPSIS – Propulsive, touching, and darkly funny, All Signs Point to Paris is the story of one woman’s search for a second chance at love. A surprising astrology reading sends Natasha Sizlo—divorced, broke, freshly heartbroken, and reeling from her father’s death—on an unexpected but magical journey to France, in pursuit of a man born on a particular date in a particular place: November 2, 1968 in Paris.

Divorced, broke, and heartsick, it seems like things can’t get worse for Natasha Sizlo—then she learns her beloved father is dying.

So when she’s gifted a session with LA’s most sought-after astrologist, Natasha has nothing to lose. She doesn’t believe in astrology, but the reading is eerily, impossibly accurate. As her misgivings give way, Natasha asks about her emotionally unavailable, yet terribly handsome ex-boyfriend, the one she can’t seem to get over.

To Natasha’s surprise, the astrologist tells her he is The One. His birthdate and birthplace—November 2, 1968 in Paris, France—line up with Natasha’s astrological point of destiny. The word husband comes up in the reading.

Natasha feels faint. Was her ex really the big soul love she was destined for?

Then, she has a lightning bolt of an idea: he couldn’t possibly be the only available man born on November 2, 1968 in Paris. Her soulmate is still out there—she just has to find him.


MY RATING – This was an enchanting change from my usual true crime books. Natasha Sizlo writes about her crazy path to love, looking for men born on a certain date in Paris, just like her ex-boyfriend Phillipe. But this one will be her soulmate if she can find him. Her astrologer says so. Sad at points, also a funny and romantic memoir. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


ALL SIGNS POINT TO PARIS


PUBLISHER – Mariner Books – 304 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – Aug 16th, 2022

MY RATING – 5/5 STARS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – NATASHA SIZLO has written for Variety, Cosmopolitan, InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar, and Shape, among others. By day, she sells high-end real estate for The Agency. She lives in Los Angeles with her two children. 


ARC Review ~ How to Survive a Carjacking

How to Survive a Carjacking & Get Your Car Back Quickly

by Charles Talley


Synopsis – As the global pandemic took a strangle hold of global economies, the prevalence of crime soared. Everything from petty theft to home invasions and occurrences of violent carjacking was climbing at frightening rates. While these crimes have always been present in our society, it is quite apparent that the financial fallout that has been sparked by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic has only added fuel to the fire. In the grand scheme of things its important to understand why and how some of these violent crimes occur. While we can go to great lengths to secure our homes and safeguard ourselves in public spaces, not as many people are actually talking about what to do when you’re in the quiet confines of your own vehicle, and worse – you’re alone.


My thoughts – Written by a rehabilitated car thief, Charles Talley. This was worth the quick read for the tips on keeping yourself and loved one safer from being carjacked. Good advice in today’s higher crime, and a reminder to stay aware. There are also a few tips on getting your car back if you do lose it. A helpful book. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


HOW TO SURVIVE A CARJACKING


Publisher – Ink Pen Thief Publishing LLC – 41 pages

Publication date – April 21, 2022

My rating – 4/5 STARS