Anne Bonny #Review I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara @FaberBooks #NonFiction #NewRelease #GoldenStateKiller #TrueCrime

I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara

A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer – the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorised California for over a decade – from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.

‘You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark.’

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called the Golden State Killer. Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death – offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic – and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

My Review:

This scary and yet oh so fascinating book, is journalist Michelle McNamara’s personal investigation into the ‘golden state killer’. The author has meticulously trawled through thousands of documents, in an attempt to learn more details that may indicate who the killer terrorising the state is. It is worth noting that the writer sadly passed away during the writing of the book. Therefore, the book has been constructed by those who assisted her with her investigation. I think this important to note, as the timeline often jumps around the decades. But the main consensus of her findings is all included.

The book has an introduction by crime fiction author Gillian Flynn and an afterword by the authors husband, actor Patton Oswalt. Both shine a light on the author behind the novel. Both have incredible admiration for her drive and ambition to see justice served. There is a powerful letter to the killer from Michelle at the end and you get the distinct impression, she was one hell of a woman! If anything, ever happened to me, I would hope that the investigator had Michelle’s quest for justice.

The book opens with a map of the attacks and a list of investigators and victims. The author has predominantly put the victims at the heart of this book. This gives them a voice that I have rarely seen in true crime. Too often the focus is solely on the psychology of the killer and the criminal activities are in danger of being sensationalised. What Michelle has done, is show you the true horror of the crimes whilst maintaining you never forget the victims he left behind in his wake.

The golden state killer was previously known as the east area rapist. Where he carried out 50+ sexual assaults. The rapes take place in an organised and often controlled manner. Which makes them even more frightening. After one specific assault, where the perpetrator is chased by a neighbour (an FBI agent) he turns to murder. The murders offer him a way to silence his victims forever.
The development to serial rapist to serial killer is fully explored.

The book focuses on different cases individually. The one that stuck in my mind early on, was the murder of Manuela. The aftermath of survivor’s guilt for her husband is laid bare. How do you ever get your life back after such an awful crime has occurred? How do you accept no closure or justice? The crime is detailed further in the book, it is horrific and the very stuff of all women’s nightmares.

“Good criminalists are human scanners”

The killer then adapts his usual attacks of focusing solely on the female victims, to attacking couples. Sometimes even with their children present in the home.
Do not read this, late at night!
What makes this book so terrifying, is that it is all real.
These are real crimes and the killer is still at large.

With the killer adapting to couples, we are walked through the case of Patty & Keith. There was no DNA evidence available at the time of the murders and this allowed the killer to evade justice for so long. Eventually committing heinous crimes over several decades. With the introduction of DNA evidence, comes the matching up of the cases. But it doesn’t lead to any matches in the CODIS system, not even a familial match!

For Michelle McNamara the unsolved case became an obsession. It took over her life and became a vocation. No one wanted justice for these victims more than Michelle. The book details why Michelle was so obsessed by unsolved crimes. The case from her childhood that she has never forgotten, that would lead to her desire to put the golden state killer behind bars.

“I need to see his face.
He loses his power when we know his face”

I am a huge fan of various crime shows such as criminal minds or law & order special victims unit. But they never prepare you for true crime documentary’s or non-fiction books that explore all the darker angles of the criminal’s deviant crimes. The golden state killer had a commitment to reconnaissance. He was known to taunt the police and goad the victims, even decades after rape took place. There is one specific call he makes to a victim, which is detailed in the book. I don’t think I will ever forget the horror he fully intended the victim to feel.
There are other comments muttered to victims during assaults that are just as vile.

“Make one move and you’ll be silent forever and I’ll be gone in the dark” – To a 16yr old victim, believed to be a case of mistaken identity.

The toll the case took on the investigators is debated, and they are named throughout. The author wanted people to see how many hours of investigation went into this case and yet it led it led to nowhere. The various investigators have an in-depth profile of the killer. Which I can only imagine must be incredibly frustrating to them. To go on and on, not getting a face to the name.

“The typical rapist does not have such elaborate schemes” – Carol Daly

There is so many themes discussed it would be impossible for me to list them all within this review. The development of forensics and by whom, is given a spotlight. The psychology of the rapist is also debated amongst professionals. Why is the killer so controlled? Is it dominance and power he seeks?
But still the killer persists to taunt the police…

“I’m the east area rapist I have my next victim stalked and you guys can’t catch me”

The story of young victim Janelle Cruz, Is truly heart-breaking. A girl that had already known abuse and neglect. Her life snuffed out, like it didn’t even matter.

“Nothing signals terror like a teenage girls wild, unrestrained scream in the night”

Similarly, the case of mother and daughter Debbi & Cheri Domingo. The mother Cheri and daughter Debbi, rarely got along and had the usual teen and mother drama of arguments. But when Cheri is taken far too early from Debbi. It will have an everlasting effect on Debbi’s young life, leading to addiction issues etc. I think this is something often overlooked in most true crime stories. The impact of the crimes on the surviving family members. I can not imagine a coping mechanism that ever prepares you for the news; these families received.

The identification of the golden state killer is further complicated by other killers who were known to have operated within the same area. For example, the night stalker Richard Ramirez 1984-1985. These cases were often similar and of the same savagery.

Although this book has given me several sleepless nights. It is a more than a worthy read. It is important for our society to put a face to victims of such heinous crimes. To force the justice system to ensure women are safe in the street and in their homes.
Highly recommended 4*

Michelle McNamara
Website – True Crime Diary

#BlogTour #GuestPost Mina Scarletti #GhostHunter An Unquiet Ghost by @LindaStratmann @SapereBooks #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction #AnUnquietGhost

An Unquiet Ghost
An Unquiet Ghost by Linda Stratmann

Brighton, 1871.

Mina Scarletti is becoming well known for unmasking fraudulent psychics. So it is no surprise to her when a young couple write to her seeking her advice.

George Fernwood and Mary Clifton, betrothed distant cousins, have a family secret that is preventing them from getting married. Twenty years ago, their alcoholic grandfather died in his bed and since then rumours have been circulating that someone in the family murdered him.

Desperate to find out the truth, they have decided to seek out a medium to communicate with their grandfather, and they want Mina to help them find one who is genuine.

Though she is not a believer in ghosts, Mina is intrigued by the family mystery and decides to help them in any way she can.

Could one of the new mediums advertising in Brighton really be genuine? Will they help George and Mary find the answers they are looking for?

Or will this Unquiet Ghost ruin the chance of happiness for future generations …?

Guest Post:

Mina Scarletti, Ghost Hunter by Linda Stratmann

The Mina Scarletti books are set in 1870s Brighton, a time when spirit mediums were all the rage, and hardly any investigation had been carried out into their activities. It was a glorious opportunity for charlatans with some conjuring skills to make a living and sometimes a small fortune, out of the curiosity and grief of others.
Mina Scarletti is determined to be no-one’s fool and never an object of pity. She is 4ft 8” tall, her body twisted by scoliosis. Told that she must never marry and have children, she decides to make as much of her life as she can, and when she is not writing ghost stories she takes a mischievous pleasure in exposing fraudsters who try to fleece vulnerable people.
Her enquiries will take her to seances where apparitions glow in the dark, tables rise in the air and fresh flowers appear from nowhere. The magician’s art will demonstrate how a disembodied hand can write messages from the spirits, and chalk predictions on sealed slates. Mina will reveal a scandal in the Royal Pavilion with the assistance of a chess automaton, and in her most recent adventure she will solve a 20 year old murder.
There are upsets in her own family, too; the indiscretions of her wilful sister Enid, and the attempts of Richard her charming scallywag of a brother to make his fortune without actually having to work. She does have valuable friends; the wise Dr Hamid, proprietor of an oriental steam bath, and Nellie, a former conjuror’s assistant who has plenty of tricks up her sleeve; but she also makes a dangerous enemy.
I am currently writing the fourth book in the series in which Mina is asked to investigate a haunted mansion.

Linda Stratmann picture
Linda Stratmann
Authors Links:

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#Review The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by @JeanPendziwol 5* Genius @wnbooks #LiteraryFiction When you live on an island, nothing is secret. #FavouriteReads

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol

Elizabeth’s eyes have failed. She can no longer read the books she loves or see the paintings that move her, but her mind remains sharp and music fills the vacancy left by her blindness.

When her father’s journals are discovered on a shipwrecked boat, she enlists the help of a delinquent teen, Morgan, to read to her. As an unlikely friendship grows between them, Elizabeth is carried back to her childhood home – the isolated lighthouse on Porphyry Island, Lake Superior – and to the memory of her enigmatic twin sister Emily. But for Elizabeth, the faded pages of her father’s journals reveal more secrets than she anticipates and provide the key to a moment she has never understood. The day when she found a grave, marked with her own name…

My review:

Words alone can not express how much I love this novel. It is a beautiful, spell-binding novel. I had recently been reading psychological thrillers back to back. I decided to try something different and bought this novel online. What I would go on, to discover is that, The Lightkeeper’s Daughters are good for the soul. The novel takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, with a pairing of two unlikely protagonists. What is great about Elizabeth and Morgan is that they, truly are opposites of one another.
Yet they have so much in common….

The novel opens with Arnie Richardson stumbling across an abandoned boat called Wind Dancer. He is disheartened to find Charlie Livingstone missing. But what he finds onboard, is the basis of this novel. The journals of Elizabeth’s father.

Morgan is a young local teenager, a rebel without a cause and all round angry youth. Having recently been caught in the act of graffiti; she is coerced into completing restorative rehabilitation, at the Boreal retirement home. It is at the retirement home, that she comes across Elizabeth. Morgan is mouthy and in need of a humble approach to life. She refers to those who sent her to the home as ‘do-gooders’ and those living there as ‘rich old folk’. Morgan needs bringing back to reality and Elizabeth and her story are just the medicine she needs.

‘Fear can turn to anger so quickly; she is afraid of what life can bring and mad at the world because of it’
Elizabeth on Morgan

Elizabeth has declining eye sight, she can no longer read the newly discovered journals. Through a bizarre twist of fate, Morgan agrees to help. But Elizabeth is clever and cunning, she already has Morgan weighed up, having read her character at every interaction. When she begins to tell Morgan of her life at Porphyry Island. Morgan isn’t expecting quite the dramatic story she gets.

‘The Island was no place for the weak’

Morgan has a young boyfriend Derrick, he is a bad influence on the impressionable young teen. Morgan is desperate for love and validation and surviving foster care has taken an emotional toll on Morgan. When she begins to read the journals she has no idea, just how much the story will open her eyes and her heart.

‘I’m invisible except to the one person who is blind’ – Morgan

The journals begin in 1917 but the story they hold, echo’s long into the future. They begin with Elizabeth’s father’s first job as a lightkeeper and his eventual post at Porphyry Island. The family, mother Lil, brother’s Charlie and Peter and twin sister Emily. Life as a lightkeeper is far from easy. The family had an assistant Greyson, a damaged veteran of the Great war, who disappears under mysterious circumstances. They’ve known loss and hardship, yet their story warms your heart.

War and death can silence the strongest of men

Morgan reads the journals to Elizabeth and in turn, Elizabeth is able to expand further. The journal detailing 1930-1933 and the twins birth, is missing. Which leaves Elizabeth heartbroken, as she attempts to find some answers to questions she has had for decades. The novel covers the fierce connection between the twins, their silent language and bond. When the story seeps into Morgan’s heart; she begins to see her relationship with Derrick in a new light and the story aids her in her own ‘coming of age’ story.

The story is broken into three parts and part two ‘ghosts’ explores the possible separation of the twins and their upbringing. The discussion between Elizabeth and Morgan covers various themes; as told by the various characters in Elizabeth’s past. Whether it’s the mental trauma of ww2 on soldiers or the mental strength needed to live in near seclusion on the Island. But nothing can prepare you for the moment Elizabeth comes across her own grave stone…..

‘I was left to exist as a ghost’

Morgan and Elizabeth debate the need to know your past.
Why does Elizabeth desire the answers now, in her old age?

“Don’t you think that when you know your past, it can make a difference to your present? And your future too?”

The sentimental message of the story hits deep with Morgan. She has never known her biological parents. She was raised by her grandfather, whom she misses deeply. When he passed away, there was no one else to care for her and she began her journey in the care system. As the story continues to develop, the friendship between Elizabeth and Morgan goes from strength to strength. Perhaps Morgan has found the unlikeliest of friends, in the unlikeliest of places.

“Love blinds us. It is a thief”

“There is, perhaps, more of the story you need to know”

Life on the Island of Porphyry is tough.
For Elizabeth and Emily, a lone wolf, stalks their every move.

For me personally the novel brought back many, many happy memories. It reminded me of deep conversations with my own grandmother. The lessons she would inadvertently teach me, with her stories of her past and people she had known.
I found those aspects of the story very moving.

I would describe the novel as modern literary with historical roots. The story of the The Lightkeeper’s Daughters, is incredibly powerful and haunting. The secrets of the past brought tears to my eyes and it will be a story, I won’t forget.
5* Genius

Jean E. Pendziwol

#BlogTour #GuestPost Novels in translation #BlueNight by @ohneKlippo Simone Buchholz #Krimi Translated by @FwdTranslations Rachel Ward @OrendaBooks #NewRelease #CrimeFiction

Blue Night by Simone Buchholz
Translated by Rachel Ward

After convicting a superior for corruption and shooting off a gangster’s crown jewels, the career of Hamburg’s most hard-bitten state prosecutor, Chastity Riley, has taken a nose dive: she has been transferred to the tedium of witness protection to prevent her making any more trouble. However, when she is assigned to the case of an anonymous man lying under police guard in hospital – almost every bone in his body broken, a finger cut off, and refusing to speak in anything other than riddles – Chastity’s instinct for the big, exciting case kicks in. Using all her powers of persuasion, she soon gains her charge’s confidence, and finds herself on the trail to Leipzig, a new ally, and a whole heap of lethal synthetic drugs. When she discovers that a friend and former colleague is trying to bring down Hamburg’s Albanian mafia kingpin single-handedly, it looks like Chas Riley’s dull life on witness protection really has been short-lived… Fresh, fiendishly fast-paced and full of devious twists and all the hard-boiled poetry and acerbic wit of the best noir, Blue Night marks the stunning start of a brilliant new crime series, from one of Germany’s bestselling authors.

#GuestPost by Rachel ward:

There isn’t really such a thing as a typical day for me as a translator, as everything varies so much from one project to another. I was working on Blue Night at the same time as translating a book on the history of human rights policy in the 20th century, so I’d work on that in the mornings and switch to Riley’s Hamburg in the afternoons.

Both books had their own set of challenges. The human rights book is long, dense and complex, and it involved a lot of untangling convoluted academic sentences, trying to get to grips with what the author wanted to say. So Blue Night was a lot more fun to work on but it had a whole set of difficulties of its own, starting with the self-doubt. Could I do this? Could I really recreate Riley’s voice in English? One of the things I love so much about Simone’s text is the way every word is precisely placed, carefully chosen, doing its job. Could I really have the nerve to pull off the same trick in another language that works so differently? Would it risk tipping over into a Chandleresque pastiche?

There were linguistic difficulties, cultural differences, the need to convey the sense of Hamburg (a city I’ve never visited, but long to see) and occasional snippets of Austrian and Hamburg dialect. My first attempt at Joe’s slipping into Austrian dialect, reverting to childhood speech as he falls asleep, was “I were a good lad, a right good lad.” It mirrors the original quite nicely, except that then he sounded like he came from Yorkshire… I’ve done my best by the voice and tried to convey the same effects, even if not always by the same means.

For my first book translation, I was working at a rickety computer desk with my dictionary in my lap, dial-up internet (remember that?) and little feedback from anyone but my very patient husband. I could use the university library to find bigger dictionaries, and more technical ones, but now I’m staggered by how few resources I used. Now, with all the wonders of the internet at my disposal, I can research practically any subject under the sun without moving from my desk. I turned to friends and colleagues in real life conversation, professional forums and social media, and they provided much needed help, inspiration and flashes of genius. We discussed slang terms for eyes (English doesn’t have enough that don’t sound horribly dated – ogles, peepers…?!), football terminology, how to convey in English what an Austrian accent sounds like to a German and much else besides.

To take one example, when Riley travels to Leipzig, she visits a bar called the Ost-Pol, and Simone’s description of it is a typical of her style. I was struggling with the sentence, so I turned to a Facebook group for translators working between German and English. In the course of the conversation, it turned out that not only was this a real bar, but that one of the group members had been there the night before. Now I had an eye-witness of the place to help me fine-tune the translation. And here’s what we ended up with:

“’At the Ost-Pol,’ Wieczorkowski said earlier, when I asked him the best place to get a few beers.
‘Like the North or South Poles, but in the East.’
I can’t think of a name that would suit this place better. Clear and uncompromising and dark and glorious and perfectly off-beat. The predominant colours are light brown, dark brown, and orange, or all at once, preferably in decades-old wavy or checked patterns. All the men have untrimmed beards; lots of them are wearing peculiar caps. A punk band is playing in the next door room. They’re torturing their guitars; a woman with a very loud and very sad voice sings: Now it’s broken.”

Simone Buchholz
Via Orenda Books

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#Review The Woman In The Window by @AJFinnBooks 4* #NewRelease #Psychological #Thriller @fictionpubteam @HarperFiction

The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

My review:

I have seen the online hype for this novel and read the synopsis. It was a novel I HAD to HAVE! After several trips to the book store and returning empty handed. I finally found a copy. This novel is described as in the style of Hitchcock and certainly has a synopsis that is reminiscent of one of his most famous movies.
I was very intrigued!

Due to a chronic pain condition, I spend most of my time indoors. I rarely leave and even rarer socialise. This is the how/why to my never ending TBR pile. I devour novels to starve off the boredom.
I had to learn more about this fabulous bestseller, everyone is raving about.

The novel is told in diary style, opening in October and the following weeks. Our protagonist Anna, is a nosey neighbour. She is more on the scale of obsessive nosey neighbour. She knows who everyone is and has even taken to googling the neighbours for further details. But when new neighbours arrive at number 207, it will unravel Anna’s carefully organised little world.

Anna is a lonely woman, in a huge four floor, New York house. She has a womanising tenant named David and a cat named Punch. She clearly has some form of trauma or emotional pain in her background. But we must wait for Anna to tell us.
Anna is on a long list of medication, drinks wine by the bottle daily and has a wild imagination. Which makes her one hell of an unreliable narrator. But she is unbelievably addictive.
I was hooked to the page and desperate to know how the plot unravelled.

Anna is separated from her husband Ed and he has custody of their daughter Olivia. She speaks to them daily via the telephone and through the novel we learn more of their history as a couple. I found Anna to be very self-destructive and desperate for company. She spends hours in her home, watching old back and white movies or absorbed in her online community Agrora, for fellow suffers of agoraphobia.

The new family in the neighbourhood are Alistair and Jane Russell, with their teenage son Ethan. Anna’s house directly looks onto theirs and she becomes obsessed with watching them at the window, through her Nikon camera lens.
I had a feeling this would end badly. But for whom?
When Ethan makes attempts to befriend Jane, she lets down her guard. He’s just a kid and she is a trained child psychologist. She sees a lonely vulnerable child and he probably sees a lonely vulnerable adult. In one sense it is a meeting of minds.

When Ethan’s mother Jane pops over one day, they begin talking and drinking, as women often do. It isn’t long until Anna and Jane have confided in one another. Anna of her PTSD and agoraphobia and Jane of her controlling marriage. They play chess and drink more wine and I wondered if Anna had finely found a real friend. That is until one night, shortly after, a scream is heard, and Anna becomes convinced Jane has come to harm.
What follows is revelation upon revelation.

As Anna’s past and present collide in a dramatic and well woven plot. I trusted her less and less. Her backstory only makes you empathise with her struggles and in turn you begin to make excuses for her irrational behaviour. I found myself trying to pick apart the narrative to fathom the truth, I was at an absolute loss. Anna is complex and strong minded, yet she draws you in and won’t let go.