Anne Bonny #BookReview Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture Edited by Roxane Gay #NonFiction #RapeCulture @HarperNonFic

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Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture Edited by Roxane Gay
Review Copy

Synopsis:

In this valuable and timely anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence and aggression they face, and where sexual-abuse survivors are ‘routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied’ for speaking out.
Highlighting the stories of well-known actors, writers and experts, as well as new voices being published for the first time, Not That Bad covers a wide range of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to first-person accounts of child molestation and street harrassment.
Often deeply personal and always unflinchingly honest, this provocative collection both reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms insisting that ‘not that bad’ must no longer be good enough.

My Review:

I picked this title as my first non-fiction read of 2019. It is timely, relevant and something I wanted to share with my teenage daughter. It explores the entire spectrum of abuse, harassment and assaults that exist when rape culture is allowed to thrive in society.
A society, we are all far too familiar with…

‘If rape culture had its own cuisine, it would be all this shit you have to swallow’

‘Rape culture speaks in every language’

There are a variety of ways these narratives are delivered, and each portray a differing experience. From victim blaming in society, from the point of view of a victim and male entitlement to female attention etc. Every page helps shape your opinion of abuse, from victim, to abuser.

This book carries with it, so many truths, women need to hear

The narratives are explored in such a way, that I felt I was listening in to the conversations of a group therapy session. It is incredibly powerful writing which touches on LGBT, trans, self-blame, risky behaviour and coming to terms with abuse.

‘Angry women are always the villains’

Highly recommended 5*

RG
Roxane Gay
Website
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Anne Bonny #NonFiction #BookReview Betrayal – The crisis In The Catholic Church 5* #Spotlight #BostonGlobe

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Betrayal – The crisis In The Catholic Church by The investigative staff of the Boston Globe
My own copy
Synopsis:

THE BOOK WHICH INSPIRED SPOTLIGHT, 2016 WINNER OF THE BEST PICTURE OSCAR AND THE BEST SCREENPLAY OSCAR

This is the true story of how a small group of courageous journalists uncovered child abuse on a vast scale – and held the Catholic Church to account. Betrayal is a ground-breaking work of investigative journalism, now brought brilliantly to life on the screen in the major new movie Spotlight.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

On 31 January 2002, the Boston Globe published a report that sent shockwaves around the world. Their findings, based on a six-month campaign by the ‘Spotlight’ investigative team, showed that hundreds of children in Boston had been abused by Catholic priests, and that this horrific pattern of behaviour had been known – and ignored – by the Catholic Church. Instead of protecting the community it was meant to serve, the Church exploited its powerful influence to protect itself from scandal – and innocent children paid the price.

This is the story from beginning to end: the predatory men who exploited the vulnerable, the cabal of senior Church officials who covered up their crimes, the ‘hush money’ used to buy the victims’ silence, the survivors who found the strength to tell their story, and the Catholics across the world who were left shocked, angry, and betrayed. This is the story, too, of how they took power back, confronted their Church and called for sweeping change.

Updated for the release of the Oscar-winning film Spotlight, this is a devastating and important exposure of the abuse of power at the highest levels in society.

My Review:

I originally bought this book for myself and my brother. My little brother is a (soon to be) third year journalism student. I was keen to understand, what goes on behind the scenes in investigative journalism. I had also already previously seen the Hollywood movie Spotlight. I was looking for the extra depth that could have been missed in a movie adaption.
What I found within the pages of this book, shook me to the core.

The investigation began at the Boston Globe under editor Walter V Robinson. The primary reporters were Matt Carroll, Sacha Pfeiffer and Michael Rezendes. Although many more reporters would later join the cause. The original investigation was to look into the actions of Rev John J Geoghan’s crimes.
Was this a one-off or a pattern of behaviour?

What the team uncovered was multiple claims, some financially settled. They also uncovered records either missing or legally sealed.
They began by attempting to unseal Geogahn’s papers.

‘The documents proved that the Archdiocese had known of Geoghan’s abuse of children for generations’

Yes, It took me a moment to digest that word too, GENERATIONS! Not days, weeks or months which would also be unforgivable, but generations.
The Globe ran a piece, which covered 70 priests that can been accused and had financially settled cases.

‘The abuse was widespread and had gone unchecked for decades’

A further four reporters were added to the team Stephen Kurkjian, Thomas Farragher, Kevin Cullen and regional reporter Michael Paulson. This was due to the huge-scale of the investigation and pattern of systemic abuse.

The book covers various angles of the investigation.
The origins and its causes.
The behaviour of abusive priests.
Impact on victims.
Role of key figures.
How the Catholic church might change as a result.

It is clear to see the Globe intended to get to the bottom of these cases and fully involve victims in the process of the journey. With 176 priests accused across the USA alone in just the first four months of expose in 2002. The team were going to have their work cut out. They also faced opposition from the church and had to bear in mind that of Boston’s 3.8 million population, 2 million identify as catholic. It would be a scandal that would surely rock Boston. Eventually it was a scandal, that rocked the entire Catholic faith across the world.

‘Nowhere else was the impact of the scandal more deeply felt. And nowhere else was the erosion of deference traditionally shown the church more dramatic’

The churches initial reaction of ‘damage limitation’ actively put abusers back into circulation. Allowing them to move freely around prominent positions within the community and allowing them so amass victims on a monumental scale.
Early on, the expose led to resignations in France, Wales, Poland and Ireland.

Geoghan himself at this point was known to have nearly 200 victims. So nonchalant, he would openly describe how he picked his victims. He began by targeting predominantly boys from poverty and single parent homes. He would appear to offer the mother ‘help’ by taking the young boys out for ice-cream or bathing them before bed. This gave him opportunity to abuse. The cover-up would involve politicians, police, prosecutors and judges. With the statute of limitations also being a hinder to the pursuit of justice.

‘If there are any heroes in this squalid tale, they are the victims, who found their voice, who found their courage, after years of suffering in silence and isolation, to step into the light and say, as one did “This happened to me, and this is wrong”‘

The book does detail individual stories from survivors of the abuse. We hear from one of the mother’s who’s four sons were abused. Hearing her repeat their admissions to her, was heart breaking reading. Even through the pages of a novel, reading many years after the scandal broke. The pain is raw and real, every single word of it.

If/when the mother’s found the courage to speak out about the abuse. Whether it be approaching other priests or bishops. The blame was often shifted to them, they were openly reminded that such accusations could ruin the priests career. This enabled the priests to hide behind their roman collars and evade justice.

‘Do you realise what you’re taking from him?’ – Bishop Thomas to Maryetta Dussourd (mother of victims)

The victim blaming, and family shaming continued in multiple cases. Meanwhile, sensing his future maybe bleak, Geoghan began to protect his own assets. Signing over properties worth millions of dollars, for just a few dollars to his sister.
Geoghan would also go one further, and play the victim himself. Insisting his actions made him ill, not a criminal.
Geoghan was beyond shame and accountability.

‘Shame, embarrassment, and sometimes, warnings by their abusers kept many victims from disclosing the abuse. Others confided in family members who found it difficult to believe them’

The house of affirmation in Massachusetts, was a facility for sexually abusive priests. It was ran by Rev Thomas Kane. But priests received little in the form of psychoanalyse and treatment. What the investigation uncovered was that the ‘treatment centres’ enabled priests to just hide in luxury compared to the jail cells they should have faced.

As the book details various decades and multiple cases, it is hard to review and summarise. But in 1984 the catholic church paid out $4.2 million to nine of Father Gauther’s victims. One victim was so viciously raped he was hospitalised. Gauther would eventually face criminal charges, unlike so many others. He was sentenced to 20yrs, served 10yrs and upon release abused another boy.

One thing that is clear throughout the book, is that instead of tackling the root cause of the issue and seeking justice. The church was content to continue to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars as financial settlements. Whilst allowing abusers to continue in posts, with access to more victims.
What struck me about this, wasn’t the victim’s right to financial compensation. That I fully agree with.
But the arrogance of the church to utilise funds intended for charity etc, to cover-up abuse and legally tie the hands/voices of the accuser. As each settlement required a non-disclosure signature.
The priests continued to abuse, the church continued to pay. With zero regard for the mental/emotional impact on the victims and future victims.
The pay-outs would occur before legal suits were filed, meaning no public record. They also contained gag-order’s or the payments must be returned.

In one particular case, Father Porter a serial child abuser of over 100+ victims over 14yrs. Was caught in the physical act by two fellow reverends; as two victims confirmed.
Yet no action was ever taken.

‘In the past 15yrs 1500 American priests faced allegations of sexual abuse’

In the section entitled Predators, the investigation breaks down the various methods established and utilised by different priests. Rev Paul R Shanley was a popular priest that challenged church teachings on homosexuality. He openly embraced ostracised members of the community. He was known as the ‘street priest’ the cool ‘hippie priest’. His ‘therapy’ sessions often involved molestation and rape. When confronted with the victim’s accusations. He would hide behind the tired old excuse that ‘the child is often the seducer’. Shanley would go on to teach teens how to inject drugs, possibly just to enable further abuse. Shanley would go on to evade justice until he was 71yrs old.

I found various chapters difficult to read. Especially the nonchalant attitudes of the priests. Which equally led me to question the severity of the impact upon victims. In the chapter entitled The Victims, you hear their stories of anger, denial, rage, shame, loss of faith, guilt and self-doubt.

‘He took everything. He took my innocence. He took my spirituality, he took my purity’
Thomas J Lambert (victim)

For victim Patricia Dolan the abuse dominated her entire adult life. Patrick McSorley (Geoghan’s victim) fully aware of what made him an easy target for abuse (alcoholic father’s suicide) would go on to be extremely protective of his own children. Armand Landy (86yrs old) can still recall the abuse suffered at just 12yrs old in 1927. One victim would shoot their abuser and there were multiple suicides.
The pain of abuse never left the victims.

The explosion of the scandal would lead to 176 priests over 28 states of the USA to resign or be removed from their post. In just 20yrs the scandal had cost the church $1.3 Billion.

‘What they were protecting was their notion that the church is a perfect society’

The investigation details how the public outrage at the scandal, broke down barriers and centuries of the church’s deference in just mere weeks. Whilst some legal professionals were prepared to give the church the benefit of the doubt. Others were not; and Judge Constance M Sweeney ordered the release of ten thousand pages of documents, declaring them public record.
The public were outraged at the church’s failure to see the children as victims of despicable crimes.

‘We throw this word ‘abuse’ around, and it’s nice, inoffensive word.
They were raping children. Where’s the indignation? Where’s the moral outrage?’
The investigation slowly began to force change in the system. Force the church to face up to its own hypocrisy.

‘Maybe to them, the victims are nameless and faceless. The victims are real to me’
Jeanine Pirro – DA Westchester county

The hypocrisy of the church is further explored, when detailing the case of a 72yr old nun fired and ostracised for performing a baptism. The $50 million over 25yrs spent on ‘treatment’ for abusive priests.
The title of this novel ‘Catholicism in crisis’ couldn’t be more apt.

‘We need more women. The power, and male dominance, and the secrecy are how this whole thing started’

Bonnie Ciambotti – Eucharistic minister.
There is a documents section, at the back of the book. Which enables you to view the previously sealed court papers.
This is a tough read, at times brutal. But unless we read it, digest the information and learn, how do we not continue to make the same mistakes? 5*

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Anne Bonny #Author Q&A with @monro_m276 Mary Monro #StrangerInMyHeart #NonFiction #NewRelease #WW2 #Biography #Extract

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Stranger In My Heart by Mary Monro
Review to follow
Synopsis:

John Monro MC never mentioned his Second World War experiences, leaving his daughter Mary with unresolved mysteries when he died in 1981. He fought at the Battle of Hong Kong, made a daring escape across Japanese-occupied China and became Assistant Military Attaché in Chongqing. Caught up in Far East war strategy, he proposed a bold plan to liberate the PoWs he’d left behind before fighting in Burma in 1944. But by the time Mary was born he’d become a Shropshire farmer, revealing nothing of his heroic past.

Thirty years after his death and prompted by hearing him described as a ‘20th Century great’, Mary began her quest to explore this stranger she’d called ‘Dad’. Stranger In My Heart skilfully weaves poignant memoir with action-packed biography and travels in modern China in a reflective journey that answers the question we all eventually ask ourselves: ‘Who am I?’

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new book?

Biography
I have written numerous technical and academic articles and I am an experienced lecturer and presenter, but this is my first book. I live in Bath and practice as an osteopath treating humans of all ages as well as animals, mostly horses and dogs. I was formerly a marketing consultant and began my marketing career with Cadbury’s confectionery. I enjoy learning languages and studied Mandarin before retracing Dad’s escape route across China. I would say that I reached toddler level (some spoken language but unable to write), which was surprisingly useful.
I was born and raised at a farm on the edge of the south Shropshire hills, the youngest of four children. I spent much of my childhood on horseback, which left me with permanent damage to my right eye, a broken nose, broken knee-cap and broken coccyx. I have been bitten, kicked, rolled on, dragged, and have fallen off too many times to recall, but I still ride racehorses for fun.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

Well you’d better make a cup of tea and sit down – that was a long journey! Initially I was just exploring my father’s life and trying to process his loss. Then I became spellbound by China and decided to recreate my father’s escape route from Hong Kong to Chongqing. I was reluctant to go to a country where I don’t speak the language, so I spent a couple of years learning Mandarin. When I eventually arrived in China (5 years into the journey) I wrote a blog to keep everyone back home up to date with my travels. The trip raised as many questions as it answered and made me realise that my experience might resonate with a wider audience. People who’d lost their parent at a young age; people who want to understand how their personality was shaped by their forbears; or people who have a war hero undiscovered in their past. I delved further into the context of Dad’s story and decided to turn it into a book. Eventually I had a manuscript that I was happy with and tried to find a publisher, some hen’s teeth and a unicorn. Unbound generously picked me up when everyone else had rejected me and a year later, after a brilliant edit, here we are!

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

In no particular order these are some of my favourite books: The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan, The Heart of the Hunter by Laurens van der Post, Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood, Perfect Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, West with the Night by Beryl Markham, The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson, The Web of Life by Fritjof Capra, A Pattern of Islands by Arthur Grimble, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

My reading was mostly pony related as a child (Ruby Ferguson, Anna Sewell) along with magical books such as AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, Gerald Durrell’s The Talking Parcel and Kipling’s Just So Stories. I became a bit more adventurous as a teenager and was lucky to live in a home where interesting reads were left lying about as hand me downs from my parents or older siblings. I’ve always had a thing about justice and, looking back, a lot of my reading in my late teens was about justice for the underprivileged, minorities and the planet. I was also exploring epistemology (not that I knew what that meant at the time), seeking guidance on how to think and what to think about. I also read a ton of other books but in the ensuing 35 years I have forgotten most of them – these writers are some that have stood the test of memory: John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Alan Paton, John Irving, Robert Pirsig, Joseph Heller, AS Byatt, Margaret Atwood, Jan Morris, Fritjof Capra, Laurens van der Post, Nadine Gordimer, Franz Kafka, Voltaire, Albert Camus, George Orwell, Tom Wolfe, Maya Angelou.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

I am overwhelmed by the reviews I have received – knowledgeable book lovers who don’t know me writing lovely, insightful things about my book. It seems miraculous!

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

My husband Julian Caldecott, who is a brilliant writer himself, has been endlessly supportive and encouraging and didn’t even mind when I took off to China without him! I also have to give a special mention to my fellow authors at the Unbound Social Club (our Facebook Group) who happily support, advise, listen, share and inspire in equal measure. They are the best bunch of mates I’ve never met and I doubt I’d have survived the process without them. Being an author is a lonely business and I have author friends, with traditional publishers, who have been rightly envious of the Unbound community.

*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.

Extract from Stranger In My Heart (final chapter):

And who am I? Apart from being immensely proud of my father and even more upset than before that he’s not here to talk to, I have an expanded sense of self. Since completing my journeys to China and writing this book, I have become more confident of my place in the world. I am doing more writing and teaching, speaking up. I have something to say and the confidence to say it. It seems that reliving my father’s experiences has added a perceptible strength to my being. As though the flow of courage from parent to child was interrupted in its flight but has now landed. At last I understand and can internalise the Monro family motto – alis et animo – wings and courage, indeed.

So many of us share this experience – the loss of a parent or grandparent without knowing them as a person rather than just as a role. We often don’t realise that their life contributes to ours in diverse and subtle ways; that if we had had the opportunity to really talk with them, they could have taught us so much about ourselves . The generation who saw the Second World War are steadily leaving us and they have a tendency to remain silent about their experiences. This reserve seems to me to be modest and protective, preserving their own sanity and hiding horror from us like a clutch of deadly eggs under a serene and soft-feathered facade.

The modern habit of sharing every thought and feeling is alien to them at the least, offensive at worst. But this is an enormous loss to us, even if we don’t fully appreciate it. Those who were non-combatants have just as much to teach us about resilience in adversity and how to live well in difficult times. The two-minute silence on Remembrance Sunday helps to make many people pause and reflect, and maybe, now that research is so much easier to do, it will also encourage more people to enrich their lives by delving further into their family history. Bereavement is never easy, but it has been truly joyful getting to know Dad and feeling the full force of his personality. It’s been like falling in love.

MM
Mary Monro
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Death Of An Actress Q&A with #Author Antony M Brown @ccjury & #Extract #TrueCrime #NewRelease #NonFiction @TheMirrorBooks #DeathOfAnActress Sex, lies & Murder on the high seas. . .

DEATH OF AN ACTRESS FC
Death Of An Actress by Antony M Brown
Synopsis:

Published in time for the 70th anniversary of one of the most dramatic trials in British criminal history.
DEATH OF AN ACTRESS is the second in the Cold Case Jury Collection, a unique series of true crime titles. Each case study tells the story of an unsolved crime, or one in which the verdict is open to doubt. Fresh evidence is presented and the reader is invited to deliver their own verdict.

October 1947. A luxury liner steams over the equator off the coast of West Africa and a beautiful actress disappears from her cabin. Suspicion falls on a dashing deck steward with a reputation for entering the cabins of female passengers. When the liner docks at Southampton, the steward is questioned by police. Protesting his innocence, he makes an astonishing admission that shocks everyone, and is charged with murder. His trial at the historic Great Hall in Winchester draws the world’s media. He is found guilty and sentenced to hang.

But was the verdict sound?

Many believe not.

Now for the first time, Antony M. Brown has secured unprecedented access to the police file, enabling the definitive story to be told. Included in the file are original court exhibits, including a hairbrush with strands of the actress’s red hair. Could a personal effect left behind in her cabin provide clues to how she might have died? Take your seat on the Cold Case Jury…

Q&A:

Q) What’s different about the Cold Case Jury true crime collection?

A) It is a series of cold murder cases, normally from the first half of last century, which combine history with a mystery. I have three goals. First, to engage the reader directly. Rather than passively describing events, I use dramatic reconstruction to show what happened and what might have happened. Second, to present key evidence in a special section. Where possible, I introduce new evidence, too. In Death of an Actress, I am the first author to have seen the police file, and new evidence and photographs are published for the first time. Third, to invite readers to deliver their verdicts online on what they think happened. Hence the reader becomes part of the case, helping to bring it to some closure.

Q) What is Death of an Actress about?

A) The second book in the series is about the tragic death of 21-year-old Gay Gibson in 1947. She disappeared from the passenger liner Durban Castle as it sailed from Cape Town to Southampton. A deck steward, James Camb, was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to hang, although many believe there was insufficient evidence to convict. Others believe he was innocent.

Q) Why is it an interesting case?

A) First, it is a murder on the high seas, which is rare. Second, there was no body – it was dumped into the sea. Again, this is unusual in a murder case because the body reveals the cause of death, and without one, the evidence is circumstantial. Third, there was no body because the only suspect confessed to disposing of it while protesting his innocence at the same time. Lastly, the case is from 1947, a different era from today in terms of travel, moral values and medicine. All these factors play a part in this fascinating case.

Q) Why did you select the excerpt below?

A) The extract dramatically reconstructs the first encounter between Gay Gibson and James Camb on board the Durban Castle. It is based solely on James Camb’s account, of course, but many details were gleaned from other evidence and witness testimony. We know from the statements of her friends – unheard at the trial and published for the first time in the book – that Gay talked intimately to strangers. Did this conversation spark attraction between her and the steward? Or was everything distorted in the mind of the man who would later be charged with her murder? Whatever you believe, it is no exaggeration to say that this encounter started a chain reaction that lead to the death of an actress.

EXTRACT:
Camb returned, holding a tray aloft with the palm of his right hand, his left tidily tucked behind his back. As he placed the cocktail glass carefully onto the drink mat in front of her, he observed the spark in her beautiful brown eyes.

“A John Collins, madam. Enjoy,” he said, bowing theatrically. Gay giggled and took a sip. “That’s perfect. Thank you.” She replaced the glass on the table, which gently moved up and down with the swell, as if the ship were breathing.

“So, you’re returning from holiday?” Camb asked, eager to restart the conversation. “No, I’ve just finished performing in a play in Johannesburg – Golden Boy. Have you heard of it?” Camb shook his head. “Well, my leading man was Eric Boon. I bet you’ve heard of him.” “Yes, of course, the Thunderbolt. He’s a good boxer.”

“He’s also an actor, you know. He’s already been in a film, Champagne Charlie.” The steward looked blankly. “With Tommy Trinder and Stanley Holloway?” Gay could see he was still none the wiser. “Well, I guess he brought some star quality to the production, being famous ’n’ all.”

“Is the play coming to London? I could come and see it when I get some leave.” “No, it finished early. It received good reviews and everything, but they closed the theatre.” “Sounds like tough luck. What will you do now?” “I’ve got some introductions to theatres back home.” She took another sip of her cocktail. “And your boyfriend’s joining you later?” Camb asked cheekily, although his only interest in the answer was to assess her likely availability.

“Charles has to run his business, so he couldn’t come with me, but I can’t stop thinking about him.” She placed both her hands across her breast. “We’ve been going steady for only a month, but I’m already crazy about him. He’s taken me to all the best restaurants and clubs in Johannesburg, you know.”

Camb was not deterred by her proclaimed affection, but her answer seemed a little odd. “Why not stay and act in South Africa, then?” he asked. “Well…” Gay hesitated, glancing down to the table. She took another sip of her drink. “Things are a little delicate right now.” “You mean he doesn’t feel the same way?” “No, he’s crazy about me, too. I just know he is,” she gushed. “Well, if you were my girl, I wouldn’t let you go,” he joked. Camb expected a giggle in response but instead Gay suddenly looked pensive. “It’s just…” she started, taking a puff of her cigarette. “Well, let’s just say, things may have become a little… complicated.” Camb asked jocularly, “You don’t mean to tell me you’re having a baby?”

Gay didn’t take offence at Camb’s familiarity. “Well, it’s rather too soon to know,” she replied cautiously. “If that’s the position, why don’t you marry the man?” There was a long pause. “It’s not quite as easy as that.” “The longer you leave it…” “He’s already married,” she cut in.

Camb said nothing, as he surmised the probable purpose of her trip to England. Gay changed the subject, her mood brightening a little as she spoke. “I’m going to have a rest after lunch. I always feel a little sleepy then. Would you mind bringing me a tray of afternoon tea in my cabin? At about four o’clock?” “I cannot leave the Promenade Deck, especially at that time,” Camb explained. “I’m busy with the tea service. When you want afternoon tea, summon the cabin steward and tell him what you want. I’ll prepare your tray and he will bring it to your cabin.” Gay nodded as a male voice called out, “Steward, is it possible for someone else to get served here?” “You’d better go,” she smiled.

Camb slid a printed Manila slip and a stubby pencil across the table. “Could you sign and date it. You settle your account at the end of each week.” Gay filled out the docket. “And your cabin number, please.” He took the slip and circled five pence in the top corner, although he was more interested in knowing the cabin number. He said goodbye, and promptly left. The next time he looked into the Long Gallery there was only an empty, lipstick marked cocktail glass on the corner table.

Image from the inside the book:
Image for GP2

Antony M. Brown
Antony M Brown
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My post on, The Green Bicycle Mystery

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

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I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara
Synopsis:

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 TrueCrimeDiary.com, 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*

MM
Michelle McNamara
Website – True Crime Diary