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Two Truths and a Lie: A Murder, a Private Investigator, and Her Search for Justice

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A journalist-turned-private investigator returns to the case that has haunted her for decades--a death row execution that may have killed an innocent man--in a deeply personal quest to sort truth from lies. In 1990, Ellen McGarrahan was a young reporter for the Miami Herald when she covered the execution of Jesse Tafero, a man convicted of murdering two police officers. Whe A journalist-turned-private investigator returns to the case that has haunted her for decades--a death row execution that may have killed an innocent man--in a deeply personal quest to sort truth from lies. In 1990, Ellen McGarrahan was a young reporter for the Miami Herald when she covered the execution of Jesse Tafero, a man convicted of murdering two police officers. When it later emerged that Tafero may not have committed the murders, McGarrahan became haunted by that grisly execution--and appalled by her unquestioning acceptance of the state's version of events. Decades later, in the midst of her successful career as a private investigator, McGarrahan finally decides to find out the truth of what really happened. Her investigation takes her back to Florida, where she combs through court files and interviews everyone involved in the case. She plunges back into the Miami of the 1960s and 1970s, where gangsters and drug kingpins and beautiful women inhabit a dangerous world of nightclubs, speed boats, and cartels. Violence is everywhere. The tragedy of the two murdered police officers, she discovers, is only the start of the mystery. But even as McGarrahan circles closer to the truth, the story of guilt and innocence becomes more complex. She gradually discovers that she hasn't been alone in her need for closure, because whenever a human life is forcibly taken--by bullet, or by electric chair--the reckoning is long and difficult for all. Both a gripping true-crime story and a fascinating glimpse into the life of a private investigator, Two Truths and a Lie is ultimately a profound meditation on grief, complicity, and justice.


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A journalist-turned-private investigator returns to the case that has haunted her for decades--a death row execution that may have killed an innocent man--in a deeply personal quest to sort truth from lies. In 1990, Ellen McGarrahan was a young reporter for the Miami Herald when she covered the execution of Jesse Tafero, a man convicted of murdering two police officers. Whe A journalist-turned-private investigator returns to the case that has haunted her for decades--a death row execution that may have killed an innocent man--in a deeply personal quest to sort truth from lies. In 1990, Ellen McGarrahan was a young reporter for the Miami Herald when she covered the execution of Jesse Tafero, a man convicted of murdering two police officers. When it later emerged that Tafero may not have committed the murders, McGarrahan became haunted by that grisly execution--and appalled by her unquestioning acceptance of the state's version of events. Decades later, in the midst of her successful career as a private investigator, McGarrahan finally decides to find out the truth of what really happened. Her investigation takes her back to Florida, where she combs through court files and interviews everyone involved in the case. She plunges back into the Miami of the 1960s and 1970s, where gangsters and drug kingpins and beautiful women inhabit a dangerous world of nightclubs, speed boats, and cartels. Violence is everywhere. The tragedy of the two murdered police officers, she discovers, is only the start of the mystery. But even as McGarrahan circles closer to the truth, the story of guilt and innocence becomes more complex. She gradually discovers that she hasn't been alone in her need for closure, because whenever a human life is forcibly taken--by bullet, or by electric chair--the reckoning is long and difficult for all. Both a gripping true-crime story and a fascinating glimpse into the life of a private investigator, Two Truths and a Lie is ultimately a profound meditation on grief, complicity, and justice.

30 review for Two Truths and a Lie: A Murder, a Private Investigator, and Her Search for Justice

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    I cannot tolerate most true crime, but I was drawn to this book because the author had a strong tie to the case, when she witnessed a man's execution as a young reporter and couldn't ever shake it. It's the first time in a long time I've read a book like this where someone gets stuck on a case and you understand completely why. It's an interesting memoir, and McGarrahan learns a lot, but it's not fully satisfying because the book is about McGarrahan's efforts to learn the truth about whether an I cannot tolerate most true crime, but I was drawn to this book because the author had a strong tie to the case, when she witnessed a man's execution as a young reporter and couldn't ever shake it. It's the first time in a long time I've read a book like this where someone gets stuck on a case and you understand completely why. It's an interesting memoir, and McGarrahan learns a lot, but it's not fully satisfying because the book is about McGarrahan's efforts to learn the truth about whether an innocent man was executed when that's not really the thing that's haunting her. What's haunting her is the death penalty itself, which is only a minor part of this book. So we can follow along with her quest but it was clear to me all along that she wouldn't find peace because this story was just the thing she could solve, it wasn't the real thing. The last third is the best, the most comprehensive and the most chronological. Much of the rest of the book jumps around and I wasn't always clear exactly when things were happening. Because McGarrahan followed the case for decades, especially when the co-defendant in the case is let off of death row on appeal, there are all kinds of things that happen before the main investigation that makes up most of the book. I wanted it to be clearer, to have a more straightforward narrative. It's much better when it is and feels muddled in other sections. One reason I don't read true crime much is that I have worked in criminal justice and usually things pile up that rub me wrong or get me frustrated. I hoped to have less of that in this book, and in a way there was. But there are things that McGarrahan is absolutely stuck on that an objective observer would be able to easily toss as unreliable or unimportant. One witness to the crime was a 9-year-old boy that she is talking to 4 decades later, that she wanted him to be a reliable witness surprised me, and that she scolded herself after interviewing him for not pressing him harder with crime scene photos shocked me. She knows he was a child, she knows after the crime he was held in detention for months, and that because of the crime he was effectively an orphan. She also cannot drop one statement one person wrote down that allegedly came from the child, but that no one else in the case has ever heard about. There are several things like this, things that she should know are unreliable, people who are clearly untrustworthy, but she continually berates herself for not pressing harder, convinced that she can get the truth from these sources like water from a stone. It's very frustrating to read because it was clear to me that there was no way to get the truth from many of these people, that it was something they didn't have or wouldn't give. But at least you understand why she is so determined. In the end, McGarrahan may not have all the answers, but she does piece together a narrative of the crime that seems like the most likely one. She's also very effective at questioning the way we accept all kinds of narratives as truth, both to find people guilty and to believe their innocence. One of the stories is included in the popular play and film THE EXONERATED, and McGarrahan so effectively destroys that story so that not even a shred of it can be believed, that the playwrights should remove it and the play shouldn't be performed again, in my opinion. Even as someone who is against the death penalty, I can't support outright lies being presented in favor of the position. Another story is that of jewel thief Jack Murphy, who has become more of a celebrity than a criminal, with stories of his exploits conveniently leaving out a trail of murders and much more. The crime at the center of the story is just one piece, the execution does not go well and is described in detail, there are several other crimes that become relevant and many of them are quite brutal, and include sexual assault.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    I found I had mixed feelings on this one. The story was so interesting as it follows along with former reporter turned private detective, Ellen McGarrahan. While working as a new reporter, she saw a prisoner put to death in an execution in the electric chair, and it has haunted her ever since. She always wondered if he was guilty of his crimes or not. Some years later, it appears she had opportunities to dig into the story in her new job as a PI, when it started to really bother her again. She w I found I had mixed feelings on this one. The story was so interesting as it follows along with former reporter turned private detective, Ellen McGarrahan. While working as a new reporter, she saw a prisoner put to death in an execution in the electric chair, and it has haunted her ever since. She always wondered if he was guilty of his crimes or not. Some years later, it appears she had opportunities to dig into the story in her new job as a PI, when it started to really bother her again. She went back and began looking into it seriously, interviewing people and looking at police files and court records. Does she find out who really killed the cops, if it was the man she saw executed, or his girlfriend or co-conspirator? All three were at the scene and had access to weapons. You will have to read this twisty book to find out. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Ellen McGarrahan, and the publisher.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    2021 PopSugar Reading Challenge: A book about do-overs or fresh starts.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rae

    Most importantly, a big thank you to NetGalley, Ellen McGarrahan, and Randomhouse Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this publication in exchange for an honest review. "I’m a private detective. This is a mystery. I know what I have to do. But I’ve never worked inside my own life before. Never dared to face my own shadows. And I am afraid of ghosts." The things a private detective experiences has many repercussions. There's the toll the line of work takes on you and then there's t Most importantly, a big thank you to NetGalley, Ellen McGarrahan, and Randomhouse Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this publication in exchange for an honest review. "I’m a private detective. This is a mystery. I know what I have to do. But I’ve never worked inside my own life before. Never dared to face my own shadows. And I am afraid of ghosts." The things a private detective experiences has many repercussions. There's the toll the line of work takes on you and then there's the toll it takes on your life. This is the story of how just a few minutes can upend everything you thought you knew. Ellen McGarrahan has never witnessed an execution before. So in 1990 when she sat down in the observation booth to watch Jesse Tafero's life end in Florida's electric chair, she didn't quite know what to expect. And it was proven that nobody could have when Tafero burst into flames from a malfunction with the device itself. A sight that she thought would haunt her for life. Until the woman that was incarcerated under the same evidence for the same crime as Jesse is exonerated. Did she watch an innocent man be tortured at the hands of negligence? Written with captivating detail, 'Two Truths and a Lie" will keep the reader engaged and hungry for more as McGarrahan recounts her journey to find the truth behind what actually led Jesse Tafero to that botched execution and how it could happen. Unlike some other true crime stories, this one hands you the iconic magnifying glass and trench coat and invites you to walk side by side with the author through extremely risky interviews and high stake situations. 5 solid stars is what this picky true crime junkie is awarding 'Two Truths'. Thank you, Ms. McGarrahan for being a badass and putting it down on paper for us to enjoy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    This book was, for lack of a better description, an absolute roller coaster of a read. I finished it faster than I finish most books, because I simply could not stop reading! I desperately wanted to know what the author wanted to know: the truth. Three, maybe even 4, people are convicted of various roles in a shooting. Two are sent to death row, one ends up facing the electric chair. Was it the right person though? The author witnessed the execution in 1990 and it never left her. She painted the This book was, for lack of a better description, an absolute roller coaster of a read. I finished it faster than I finish most books, because I simply could not stop reading! I desperately wanted to know what the author wanted to know: the truth. Three, maybe even 4, people are convicted of various roles in a shooting. Two are sent to death row, one ends up facing the electric chair. Was it the right person though? The author witnessed the execution in 1990 and it never left her. She painted the most vivid picture, I felt that I was on the investigation trail with her, right in the seat beside her. I very nearly started a chart so that I could keep track of the information she was collecting! One page you think you've got it pegged, who was responsible for shooting 2 law enforcement officers early on the morning of February 20th, 1976. And then you read the next page and your idea is flipped on its head. And back and forth it goes - until you are certain that you'll never be sure. Two Truths and a Lie is the most captivating true crime story I've read in a long time, about a crime that I had no idea had ever even taken place. I was drawn in and invested in the story right from the first page though. What I also took from this book is a lesson. Holding onto things can be damaging. Am I glad that the author held onto this, and invested all of the time and energy that she did in investigating and writing this book? Yes, because I enjoyed reading it. Do I think it was damaging to the author to have held onto something like this for over a quarter century? Yes, I do. It took pieces from her life, it consumed her thoughts, it drove her to obsession with finding the truth. In the end, what she found was not necessarily the truth, but an acceptance of what had transpired. An acceptance of what she was able to know, and what she might never know. I think that is the lesson - learning when to accept that what we know is all we may ever know, that we don't get to know everything. Leaving some things unknown is okay, and we have to find a way to be at peace with it, lest it consume our lives. I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest feedback.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jen Juenke

    I was REALLY looking forward to reading this book. The author does a great disservice to this case, to the victims and to the victims families by writing this book. If you want a love story about the author and the authors process of NOT solving this case...read this book. I finished reading this book, but grew angrier every page that the author did NOT address the full nature of the crime, the suspects, and the victim's families. Most of the book is the author stating how she watched one of the c I was REALLY looking forward to reading this book. The author does a great disservice to this case, to the victims and to the victims families by writing this book. If you want a love story about the author and the authors process of NOT solving this case...read this book. I finished reading this book, but grew angrier every page that the author did NOT address the full nature of the crime, the suspects, and the victim's families. Most of the book is the author stating how she watched one of the convicted criminals being executed by the state of Florida and how that affected her. She repeated this ad nausem......WE GET IT>>>>MOVE ON! When she goes to interview people, the author would break down crying, NOT asking pertinent questions, and generally being too trusting (spending the night at Walters)....how she made a career as a private investigator is beyond my comprehension. I am sorely disappointed by the author and the way in which she told this true crime story. Thanks to Netgalley and to the publisher for letting me write this honest review for reading this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    brewabook

    This one starts off almost like a work of fiction, but by the 3/4 mark I was dolefully aware that it was nonfiction. Don’t get me wrong I love a good true story who dunnit but it just petered out for me at the end. I would of given this less stars had the epilogue not been so well written. The epilogue was so necessary in tying this work of nonfiction up. “You don’t always know who is telling you the truth and who is lying-especially in a situation like this. I guarantee you, there’s some people This one starts off almost like a work of fiction, but by the 3/4 mark I was dolefully aware that it was nonfiction. Don’t get me wrong I love a good true story who dunnit but it just petered out for me at the end. I would of given this less stars had the epilogue not been so well written. The epilogue was so necessary in tying this work of nonfiction up. “You don’t always know who is telling you the truth and who is lying-especially in a situation like this. I guarantee you, there’s some people that can lie so good that you could not bust them.” This is the crux of the plot. A journalist needing to find an answer to a crime that haunts her past. Did she witness the execution of an innocent man? Two truths and a lie, 3 people involved in a deadly crime but only 1 person is telling the truth. Ellen sets off on a year long journey to figure out the truth and put the past that haunts her to bed, once and for all. 3 ⭐️ Thank you Netgalley and RandomHouse for the advance copy in exchange for my honest review

  8. 4 out of 5

    Donna Boyd

    Thank you to #NetGalley, Ellen McGarrahan and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my review. Two Truths and a Lie by Ellen McGarrahan is the story of the execution of Jesse Tafero who, along with his girlfriend and a friend, was convicted of murdering two police officers. McGarrahan, who was working for the Miami Herald as a reporter covered Tafero's execution and was a witness to the three malfunctions that occurred during the exe Thank you to #NetGalley, Ellen McGarrahan and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my review. Two Truths and a Lie by Ellen McGarrahan is the story of the execution of Jesse Tafero who, along with his girlfriend and a friend, was convicted of murdering two police officers. McGarrahan, who was working for the Miami Herald as a reporter covered Tafero's execution and was a witness to the three malfunctions that occurred during the execution, causing flames to come from Tafero's head. The horror of this stayed with McGarrahan who later left the field of journalism and became a private investigator. Years later she decides to use her investigation skills to find out if Tafero was innocent, as he had claimed. This is a complex story with many twists and turns and many versions of what happened the day the two police officers were shot. The three adults in the car that day are all suspects and they all point the finger at each other. There are two truths and a lie, but which is which and even when you finish the book, you are left wondering. This book will definitely keep your interest and leave you wanting more.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brynn | readyourworriesaway

    Thank you @randomhouse for the #gifted advance copy. Two Truths and a Lie comes out on 2/2! Where are my true crime lovers at? Ellen McGarrahan, journalist-turned-private detective had to cover a death row execution for work, and she hasn’t been able to get it out of her head. Jesse Tafero was sent to death row after being convicted of murdering two police officers. When word starts spreading that Tafero may not have committed the murders, McGarrahan becomes haunted by the execution that she witn Thank you @randomhouse for the #gifted advance copy. Two Truths and a Lie comes out on 2/2! Where are my true crime lovers at? Ellen McGarrahan, journalist-turned-private detective had to cover a death row execution for work, and she hasn’t been able to get it out of her head. Jesse Tafero was sent to death row after being convicted of murdering two police officers. When word starts spreading that Tafero may not have committed the murders, McGarrahan becomes haunted by the execution that she witnessed. She sets out on a mission to get to the bottom of it. Was Tafero wrongfully convicted and executed? I love true crime, and reading this one felt like I was watching a docu-series. I couldn’t help but put myself in McGarrahan’s shoes and think about the effects it would have on me. In a way, I was able to understand why she couldn’t put this case to rest. She had to know if she watched the execution of an innocent man or if he was truly guilty. Ellen McGarrahan’s writing hooked me from the beginning, and I was trying to piece together the information as she shared it. I liked that I didn’t have any background knowledge on this case. Overall, I really enjoyed this one!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    Thanks to Random House and Netgalley for providing this ARC. This is an interesting investigation and memoir that I would categorize as a lesser version of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. The author goes from naive cub reporter to a haunted and obsessive private detective, searching for answers that may never come in the hopes of finding peace for herself. The investigative parts got me hooked quickly (and I originally had zero expectations for this at all) but as I got further and further into the bo Thanks to Random House and Netgalley for providing this ARC. This is an interesting investigation and memoir that I would categorize as a lesser version of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. The author goes from naive cub reporter to a haunted and obsessive private detective, searching for answers that may never come in the hopes of finding peace for herself. The investigative parts got me hooked quickly (and I originally had zero expectations for this at all) but as I got further and further into the book, I started to lose a bit of interest in the solving of the questions and by the end I felt that it was really dragging. Recommended for true crime fans.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Higgins

    I was given, Two Truths and a Lie by the author for an honest review. This book left me with many thoughts and emotions. The book portrayed a woman that is strong to the core yet vulnerable and sensitive. I happened to read the book slowly over an extended period. This helped me get the feel of the long journey the author had, and I journeyed along with her—what an amazing story. I found myself scared, frustrated, elated at times, and the end left me with a sense of peace. I was wishing there re I was given, Two Truths and a Lie by the author for an honest review. This book left me with many thoughts and emotions. The book portrayed a woman that is strong to the core yet vulnerable and sensitive. I happened to read the book slowly over an extended period. This helped me get the feel of the long journey the author had, and I journeyed along with her—what an amazing story. I found myself scared, frustrated, elated at times, and the end left me with a sense of peace. I was wishing there really was a time machine through much of the story, a way to go back to that night at the rest stop to see exactly what happened. If I’m having time travel fantasies, that’s how you know this book struck a chord with me. I think this book will affect many people, and I can see it as a great film one day. Ellen McGarrahan is an excellent writer and detective. I admire her talent. Two Truths and a Lie is a must-read true story.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    The author, a journalist turned private eye, witnesses the electric chair execution of a man convicted of the murder of 2 police officers. The event leaves her shaken, and she embarks on a decades-long search for the “truth”, which she finds is elusive. I was a little dismayed by the author’s actions throughout the book; her crying during interviews, her repeatedly referring to the convicted man as “possibly innocent of the murders” (even though it was clear he was completely involved, if not th The author, a journalist turned private eye, witnesses the electric chair execution of a man convicted of the murder of 2 police officers. The event leaves her shaken, and she embarks on a decades-long search for the “truth”, which she finds is elusive. I was a little dismayed by the author’s actions throughout the book; her crying during interviews, her repeatedly referring to the convicted man as “possibly innocent of the murders” (even though it was clear he was completely involved, if not the actual triggerman), and her failure to alert authorities to the location of a wanted fugitive (who she interviewed) who was also convicted in this case is especially galling. Her subject is an unsympathetic rapist, drug dealer, and murderer. And through all her soul-searching, the physical evidence (which is where she probably should have started) convincingly points to the executed defendant, a conclusion she eventually comes to. This book seems to be her self-therapy, and unfortunately the reader has to go along for the ride. Disappointing. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through @NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I forget who told me to read this book. Too bad, cuz I could kiss 'em. Or at least get more recommendations. I suppose I could find out. You see, it was someone I follow on Twitter. Someone who posted about the book, said YOU MUST read this book, it's as good as it gets, it's by a former reporter who witnessed an electric-chair execution that went bad and caused her to leave journalism, become a private investigator, and finally return to the case that has haunted her pretty much her entire adult l I forget who told me to read this book. Too bad, cuz I could kiss 'em. Or at least get more recommendations. I suppose I could find out. You see, it was someone I follow on Twitter. Someone who posted about the book, said YOU MUST read this book, it's as good as it gets, it's by a former reporter who witnessed an electric-chair execution that went bad and caused her to leave journalism, become a private investigator, and finally return to the case that has haunted her pretty much her entire adult life. And what she does to track down as much of the truth as she can ... You see, Ellen McGarrahan was a young reporter in Miami when she was assigned to cover the execution of Jesse Tafero in 1990. The execution was botched -- when Tafero was strapped to the electric chair and the power turned on, something caused him to catch fire and buckle and gasp instead of just succumb to the voltage. So they tried it again. And then one more time after his head caught fire again. Seven minutes and much burning later, Tafero was dead. That was bad enough, especially in front of a room full of witnesses. But with it came the suspicion that Tafero was not guilty of the crimes for which he was being executed. In 1976, he was sleeping in a car with his friend Walter Rhodes his girlfriend Sonia Jacobs, and two children when a pair policemen approached. Moments later the two policemen had been shot dead and the group was on the move in their squad car. Eventually the case made its way through the courts, with each suspect blaming the others, before Rhodes' testimony eventually sent Tafero and Jacobs to death row. Tafero was finally executed and Jacobs eventually exonerated, with Rhodes violating his parole a few years later before being apprehended again. That would probably have been that if not for the botched execution. Watching a possibly innocent man suffer so much in death caused McGarrahan to go somewhat into a spiral. It haunted her for years to come, caused her to change professions, and eventually track down just about everyone involved with the case and write a book about it. And the process of reporting the book is more fascinating than the case itself. As a private investigator, McGarrahan learned how to track people down, often walking right up to their front door, knocking, and asking uncomfortable questions. That's what she does while trying to find the truth to this case. The lengths she goes to in order to track down Rhodes, Jacobs and her son in different trips rivals the Quest for the Ring. She spends weeks poring over case files in Florida and digs up long forgotten evidence. She continually asks herself why she is doing all this while doling out the true-crime story. There are connection to luminaries such as Mickey Rourke and celebrity criminal Jack Murphy. And Jacobs' version of events has been turned into a TV movie and Broadway play, acted out by many superstars. McGarrahan eventually comes to a conclusion that isn't necessarily the truth she wants but satisfies her anyway. The book itself is also very satisfying. I just marvel at the way the author tracks people down, talks to them, gets the information she is looking for -- usually -- and moves on to the next event. She's like a glacier, nothing will stop her. So Twitter person, I don't remember who you are. Like McGarrahan, I could probably sleuth around and find you. And while I'm probably not going to be able to give you that kiss, I'll give you a like if I find you. And hopefully you'll give me some more fantastic recommendations.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kendra Purtle

    I was torn about reading this book after I read the reviews on here. I was worried that the case may be distorted and misrepresented. After I began, my heart was broken. I knew this case, but I was taken in by the story told in the play and movie of The Exonerated. That is the case I knew. I was disturbed by the backgrounds presented about Jesse and Sunny, but I also believe that backgrounds do not necessarily tell one’s entire story. I totally can feel how distraught the author would be after w I was torn about reading this book after I read the reviews on here. I was worried that the case may be distorted and misrepresented. After I began, my heart was broken. I knew this case, but I was taken in by the story told in the play and movie of The Exonerated. That is the case I knew. I was disturbed by the backgrounds presented about Jesse and Sunny, but I also believe that backgrounds do not necessarily tell one’s entire story. I totally can feel how distraught the author would be after witnessing Jesse’s execution. No matter your feelings about the death penalty, I would think that one would have to admit that it would be a life-altering experience to view one, especially this one. I saw some of the reviews on here saying that the author should not have been so upset by the execution because she was a private detective. Anyone would be changed by witnessing such an atrocity. My own issues came from the audacity of the author. Tons of people have studied this case—lawyers, actors, writers, private investigators—many people. Yet, this woman seems to believe that her judgment, which is at the least VERY questionable just from the instances shared in this book, is to be believed. She seems to be biased in some strange and distorted ways. She seems to believe and disbelieve in odd instances without any real justification. I was totally disturbed by some of her conclusions. I can appreciate her journey and her desire for some closure in her own experience having to do with this particular case. I can see her need for knowing more, but the ways she goes about finding out and researching seem to be illogical and a bit off course. Perhaps her obsessions threw her off in some ways. I am not sure, but I do know that her quest seemed to be skewed and twisted. I appreciate that the author was affected by such a case, and I believe that she needed to seek solace and find what she was seeking. But, her story seems to be her story. She seems to come to different conclusions than everyone else who has studied this case. She does not seem to factor in for prosecutorial misconduct or police bias or misconduct or any of the other heinous factors of our “justice” system. She seems to totally believe some of the most suspect folks and “evidence” and completely jump over other facts or ideas. I am glad to have read it. I feel as if I was given another view to the story of Sunny and Jesse, but I am not sure how I feel about any of the information shared in the book. The people involved in this case have been through a lot, and I understand that she had to find her closure, as well. But, at some points, it feels as if she believes her own search is more important than what these other people have been through. Sadly, I am not sure that the author presents any valid point of view about this case. I believe that folks could definitely be mislead by reading this book. Her search may have helped her, in the end, but it also seems to be fodder for harming others. For those who do not know this case before reading this book, please, read something besides this information. Study something more than what this book shares.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    I jumped on America’s true crime bandwagon several years ago by going all in on Ann Rule, Jack Olson, and John Douglas, so it was with great interest I wanted to check out Two Truths and a Lie from Ellen McGarrahan when my lovely wife brought it home from Watermark Books here in Wichita, KS. I immediately engaged with Ellen’s writing style, and the content she presented. She’s a very able and doggedly determined investigator who was haunted by an early experience as a reporter in Florida. She wa I jumped on America’s true crime bandwagon several years ago by going all in on Ann Rule, Jack Olson, and John Douglas, so it was with great interest I wanted to check out Two Truths and a Lie from Ellen McGarrahan when my lovely wife brought it home from Watermark Books here in Wichita, KS. I immediately engaged with Ellen’s writing style, and the content she presented. She’s a very able and doggedly determined investigator who was haunted by an early experience as a reporter in Florida. She was assigned to the execution of Jesse Tafero in the late 1980s for the 1976 murder of two police officers at a highway rest area on a February morning. A tragedy in the making for quite some time, that ended with what most rational people would consider a horrifically botched electric chair execution that left McGarrahan almost as scarred as Tafero. She took on searching for The Truth for the next 25 years, getting neck deep with the other parties in the event who could be described most charitably as unreliable narrators of their own story. The most interesting part of the telling was the background as to who all the players in the drama were; the perpetrators, the victims, the lawyers, the witnesses, the hangers-on, and the children. This was riveting stuff, going through the trial materials, prosecutor records, evidence, interviews, and newspaper background, a most excellent painting of the time and place. This is by far the strongest element of the book. Where we stumble a bit in comparison to other true crime entries is where does this terrible crime fit within our own interest in the world. In the end, whilst Tafero likely suffered during his horrific execution, by all other accounts of the evidence and witnesses, was the killer of the two officers. He was aided and abetted by his two accomplices (who may have used a Taser from the Camero backseat), but was ultimately responsible for the crime. He was by most accounts of his contemporaries a less than stellar contributor to society, having been previously convicted of rape, assault and burglary. There were some who liked him very much, but many others who indicated he was a cold-hearted sumbitch. Does that make him worthy (or unworthy depending on your point of view) for the State of Florida to execute him for his crimes, I cannot say, nor is that the McGarrahan’s point. She is clearly wrestling with internal demons brought on by witnessing such a horrific display of Tafero’s execution. While this experience was no doubt traumatic, did not make for me as gripping a tale as Rule’s Ted Bundy experience The Stranger Beside Me, or Douglas’s telling of the catching of BTK. And that, in the end, is fine, since I don’t think our world needs more horror than we already have had.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tera Slawson

    When Ellen McGarrahan volunteered to witness an execution as a young reporter she had no idea how that decision would affect the rest of her life. The execution was “botched” and the death of the inmate was brutal, she was haunted by this event and it led her to spend the next 25 years trying to find the truth of the case. The inmate was Jesse Tafero, he, his girlfriend, her 9 year old son and their 10 month old daughter were at the scene with another man that left two police officers dead. Jess When Ellen McGarrahan volunteered to witness an execution as a young reporter she had no idea how that decision would affect the rest of her life. The execution was “botched” and the death of the inmate was brutal, she was haunted by this event and it led her to spend the next 25 years trying to find the truth of the case. The inmate was Jesse Tafero, he, his girlfriend, her 9 year old son and their 10 month old daughter were at the scene with another man that left two police officers dead. Jesse died in the electric chair but his girlfriend Sunny was later freed leaving questions on what really happened. Like all true crime stories everyone the author speaks to has their own version of what happened the day the officers died and the court proceedings after. The author does a very thorough job speaking to EVERYONE she can that is involved and follows the evidence to the truth. There were a few situations where I seriously questioned her judgement, she put herself in some dangerous situations to get the answers she was looking for. But I think she really went on this journey in search of justice, she needed the answers and the real story. “Americans know that the foundation of our justice system, and our society is the principle of equality under the law. We also know that inequality and injustice exist, much as we may wish otherwise.” This is part true crime book and part memoir, Ellen McGarrahan’s whole life changed the days she witnessed Jesse Tafero die. While we follow her investigation we also get a glimpse on what changed in her life for the better and the worse. Her reactions are very real and I feel her honesty on the page. While she gives heaps of information on the case and the many players in this story. I did not get bogged down with the information overload. It was a really good book. I am giving it 3 stars.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    *I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.* As a former journalist and current private eye, Ellen McGarrahan knows how to tell a story. I found this book to be very readable, and appreciated her attention to detail and thoroughness in exploring the minutia of this case. There were a lot of different people involved in the case, and I liked how the author often took the time to remind the reader who each of the players was after several chap *I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.* As a former journalist and current private eye, Ellen McGarrahan knows how to tell a story. I found this book to be very readable, and appreciated her attention to detail and thoroughness in exploring the minutia of this case. There were a lot of different people involved in the case, and I liked how the author often took the time to remind the reader who each of the players was after several chapters passed in which they were not mentioned. The Prologue draws the reader in immediately, and I couldn't believe the bravery, ingenuity, and downright gall the author had in seeking out and visiting all the people she found who had been connected with the case, including two of the three prime suspects. I enjoyed how the story unfolded and how the author would "return to the scene of the crime" to put together the pieces of the story as she was given them. My biggest complaint about the book was that I found it to be extremely egocentric. Throughout the book, the author continually refers back to the idea that she is exploring this case because she witnessed the execution of the third prime suspect in 1990, and it haunted her. In the years following the execution, as she tried to put the case out of her mind, it kept coming back to her in various ways, and she could not shake the feeling of being haunted by the ghost of Jesse Tafero, the executed man. Her search for the truth of what happened, and whether or not Tafero was innocent, was in large part, driven by the author's own need to exorcise her demons. I might have enjoyed it more without the constant reminder of the author's internal battle, however, I supposed the case itself, and the author's feelings about it, were inextricably linked.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Candace Hardy

    A newly-minted reporter working for a newspaper in Florida witnessed the execution of a man who’d been convicted of murdering two police officers. The execution sent Ellen Mc Garrahan’s life into a tailspin: geographics, job changes, career changes, relationship changes, and an inability to forget what she’d witnessed. Many years later, Ellen set out on a quest to find the truth—who really murdered the police officers? So far, it sounds like an anti-death penalty story, but it’s not. It’s a searc A newly-minted reporter working for a newspaper in Florida witnessed the execution of a man who’d been convicted of murdering two police officers. The execution sent Ellen Mc Garrahan’s life into a tailspin: geographics, job changes, career changes, relationship changes, and an inability to forget what she’d witnessed. Many years later, Ellen set out on a quest to find the truth—who really murdered the police officers? So far, it sounds like an anti-death penalty story, but it’s not. It’s a search for justice. All of the witnesses and other suspects tell different stories. I enjoyed uncovering the truth along with Ellen. I appreciated that she wouldn’t quit until she had all the truth that could be unearthed and analyzed. Memoir usually lacks the contrived twists so common in fiction, and this memoir is no exception. Yes, we get surprise changes in direction, possibly misdirection, along with Ellen. Thus, the reader feels in on the investigation. The story is skillfully told in the present tense, with an abundance of flashbacks. The style invites the reader inside the events. The investigation progresses forward, backward, and sideways. A fan of mysteries, thrillers, and true crime, I had imagined investigations were organized, proceeding in logical sequence. This one did not; it proceeded like one of those brainstorming webs, branching in all sorts of directions, depending on the latest witness’s story. It this how it’s done? I imagine so, since at this point, Ellen had been a private investigator for about twenty years. Too analytical to be a page-turner, the story still moved rapidly along, was engaging and devoid of quick, simple answers. Those who love mysteries and true crime would love this glimpse into the real world of a PI. The memoir is carefully told and full of detail—not too much; not too little.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jody Blanchette

    In May 1990, Ellen McGarrahan was a journalist for the Miami Herald, and was assigned to witness the execution of Jesse Tafero. Rumors were flying that he was innocent of his accused crime, killing two police officers. Had she witnessed an innocent man's death? That traumatic event changed the course of her life. Switching professions, Ellen became a private investigator. Her quest was for the truth for her clients, as well as herself. She needed to hear Jesse Taferos whole story, and find out th In May 1990, Ellen McGarrahan was a journalist for the Miami Herald, and was assigned to witness the execution of Jesse Tafero. Rumors were flying that he was innocent of his accused crime, killing two police officers. Had she witnessed an innocent man's death? That traumatic event changed the course of her life. Switching professions, Ellen became a private investigator. Her quest was for the truth for her clients, as well as herself. She needed to hear Jesse Taferos whole story, and find out the truth. This book is an account of her journey for justice, and all of the people she met and connected along the way. Reading Two Truths And A Lie was like watching a docuseries on Netflix. We get the play by play, small details and character connections that lead to the outcome we all heard about in the news. The difference in the book, to what you would see on TV, is getting a first hand account with an emotional retelling from someone who chose to investigate for their own need. Ellen McGarrahan was completley screwed up after watching the execution, and her need for answers became an obsession to heal her. This is the first time I have heard of this case. Once I got a few chapters in, and found myself trying to piece things together as well, I was hooked in. Things didn't add up, too many different stories about how it all happened. I didnt expect the Mob, Drug Cartel, jewel thieves, excessive amount of guns or the Bonnie and Clyde angel. I'm still in a funk about all the information I just processed. This was a great True Crime novel. The reader is given the facts and the outcome, but are also given the opportunity to figure things out for themselves. There is no focus on gore, and the victims are mentioned respectfully. Very informative and personal read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    In Starke, Fl 1990, Jesse Tafero was a man on death row whose botched execution was witnessed by the author who was working as a reporter at the time. The 7 minutes it took for him to die after first the wires catching fire and 3 jolts was a trauma she would live with for years and ultimately consume her life. It all ultimately began in February 1976 when a police officers were killed while making a routine check at a rest stop. They never expected the violence which ended their lives when they In Starke, Fl 1990, Jesse Tafero was a man on death row whose botched execution was witnessed by the author who was working as a reporter at the time. The 7 minutes it took for him to die after first the wires catching fire and 3 jolts was a trauma she would live with for years and ultimately consume her life. It all ultimately began in February 1976 when a police officers were killed while making a routine check at a rest stop. They never expected the violence which ended their lives when they approached the beat up Camero with 3 adults and 2 kids sleeping. As it turned out, the occupants of the car were Walter Rhodes, Jesse Tafero and his girlfriend Sunny along with a baby and 9 yo son. They all have a shady criminal history and had weapons visible in the car when the police approached. What happened after that was total chaos leaving 2 police officers dead and the perpetrators pointing fingers at each other. The story was so compelling that Barbara Walters covered the story on 20/20 television show. It was then made into a documentary play called Exonerated which again drew attention and speculation to the case. The main theory was that Jesse Tafero was the shooter which eventually freed Sunny from prison. The case was complicated with Rhodes confessing and retracting his confession several times. The book is primarily about the author and her quest to discover the truth of the case. Since she felt burdened with guilt and confusion when questions arose to whether Jesse was innocent and executed unjustly. In 1992, she drives to CA and works in construction as a break from journalism. She slowly works her way into private detective work and eventually follows through with obtaining necessary training to work full-time. Meanwhile, she meets Peter a fellow private detective who patiently ensures her years long quest around the globe to satisfy the lingering questions of the Tafero case. Her obsession with wanting to know the details of that fatal day were disturbing to say the least. It’s understandable that after witnessing the execution and then questions of his innocence emerge were would be deeply unsettling. Her investigation into the truth was interesting and eventually revealed that these were all dangerous people involved in more dangerous criminal activity than initially revealed. When she begins uncovering connections with the Mafia and big time drug dealers, I’m thinking, clearly whatever happened none of them were innocent. But, I found the author becomes unhinged with tracking down information and chasing dangerous people to discuss past criminal events. She clearly reflects on how her intrigue for information overwhelmed her common sense. The more she uncovers the more complex and dangerous the story becomes at which point…does it really matter? I’m thinking great work turn around and go home. Oh, please don’t go to Ireland to find Sunny. And no, don’t go to Australia to track down her son! Please say no when invited to spend the night with Rhodes and his girlfriend. Jack Murphy. Really?!! As much as the truth felt so paramount to the author I felt she she herself in unnecessary danger around violent criminals only to discover what was evident from the beginning.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Journalist turned private investigator turned author Ellen McGarrahan covered and attended the execution of Jesse Tafero, 43, in May 1990 in Stark, Florida. Tafero, convicted for the murders of two policemen, did not die easily. The electric chair malfunctioned, sending out flames and smoke, and required three jolts of electricity over the course of seven minutes rather than the usual one jolt and one minute to kill the prisoner. It would haunt McGarrahan for decades to come. So much so, that af Journalist turned private investigator turned author Ellen McGarrahan covered and attended the execution of Jesse Tafero, 43, in May 1990 in Stark, Florida. Tafero, convicted for the murders of two policemen, did not die easily. The electric chair malfunctioned, sending out flames and smoke, and required three jolts of electricity over the course of seven minutes rather than the usual one jolt and one minute to kill the prisoner. It would haunt McGarrahan for decades to come. So much so, that after she quit her job as a journalist and became a private investigator she decided to look into the case and determine for herself whether, as she suspected, an innocent man had died at the state's hands. The truth of what happened the day the police officers were murdered will most likely never be known in full, but there appear to have been sufficient contradictions in the evidence and testimonies associated with the case that it seems odd to this reader that the prosecution was able to prove Tafero's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. The read overall is a bit uneven; steady and even gripping in some parts, a bit boggy and repetitive in others; but that's probably the way real investigations go. Though the basis of the book is the guilt or innocence of Tafero, the broader issue on the board is the death penalty itself and whether it provides justice. My thanks to NetGalley and Random House for permitting me access to an advanced copy of the book which is scheduled for publication on 2/2/21. Opinions stated in this review are my own.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emma Charles

    This memoir is written by a journalist turned private investigator after she witnesses the death row execution of Jesse Tafero. After spending time solving other people's mysteries, she decides to try to solve the case that has been haunting her: was Jesse Tafero really guilty of the crime that ultimately led to his death? As someone who is really interested in prison reform and the abolishment of the death penalty in the United States, I thought I would really like this one. However, I found th This memoir is written by a journalist turned private investigator after she witnesses the death row execution of Jesse Tafero. After spending time solving other people's mysteries, she decides to try to solve the case that has been haunting her: was Jesse Tafero really guilty of the crime that ultimately led to his death? As someone who is really interested in prison reform and the abolishment of the death penalty in the United States, I thought I would really like this one. However, I found the writing to be very repetitive. McGarrahan talks to many people connected to the crime (Jesse's girlfriend, defense attorneys, medical examiners, witnesses, etc.) and once she writes about those interviews, she sums up what she now knows about the case. For some people, this might be helpful in order to keep track of the information she is providing, but for me it got boring and I skimmed through her recaps. Basically, if you are interested in true crime (death row cases specifically), there are better pieces of literature out there and I would advise skipping this one unless you have a specific interest in Tafero's case. (PUB DATE: 02/02/2021) (I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed above are my own.)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Davis

    I received my copy of Two Truths and a Lie through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of the book. Thank you to Ellen McGarrahan and Random House for the opportunity to be able to read and review this book Ellen is everything we women need in the criminal justice field. She’s witty, tenacious, but she’s also kind of a dog with a bone. After witnessing an execution that went wrong and took about 5 minutes longer than it should have, Ellen spends years with the ghost of Jesse Tafero knockin I received my copy of Two Truths and a Lie through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of the book. Thank you to Ellen McGarrahan and Random House for the opportunity to be able to read and review this book Ellen is everything we women need in the criminal justice field. She’s witty, tenacious, but she’s also kind of a dog with a bone. After witnessing an execution that went wrong and took about 5 minutes longer than it should have, Ellen spends years with the ghost of Jesse Tafero knocking around in her brain. After Jesse’s girlfriend was later released from death row on technicalities and goes on to write a best selling book and a sold out play on Broadway telling hers and Jesse’s story- Ellen has enough and goes in search of the truth of what happened that morning in 1976 that left two police officers dead and three people behind bars. Ellen tells this story magnificently; mesmerizingly so. I couldn’t put it down! Was Jesse innocent? Had they killed the wrong man? I had to know! She kept me on the edge the whole time. Absolute fabulous book and if it doesn’t become a bestseller I’ll eat my shoe.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brent

    Holy shit — this book. I'm neither a fast reader nor a regular reader of true crime, but I tore through Two Truths and a Lie in two days. It's a modern-day Rashomon — driven by unreliable testimonies and shifting perspectives, by confessions and recantations, by principal figures and supporting characters who are never exactly as they appear on the surface, by the mute witness of physical evidence at the scene of the crime, and by the vagaries, abuses and exploitations of the criminal justice syst Holy shit — this book. I'm neither a fast reader nor a regular reader of true crime, but I tore through Two Truths and a Lie in two days. It's a modern-day Rashomon — driven by unreliable testimonies and shifting perspectives, by confessions and recantations, by principal figures and supporting characters who are never exactly as they appear on the surface, by the mute witness of physical evidence at the scene of the crime, and by the vagaries, abuses and exploitations of the criminal justice system — told in propulsive prose by a dogged, haunted narrator who for a quarter century could not let go of a case that burned a hole through her that could be filled only by the truth. At a certain point, the crime itself — the horrible fact of it, the senseless deaths of its victims, the other lives it touched and changed forever — became a MacGuffin for me. It became less important for me to know the truth than to know that Ellen finally arrived at the truth. Powerful, deeply felt personal storytelling. An astonishing work of investigation and reportage. I can't recommend Two Truths and a Lie highly enough.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katrina

    I won this book through Goodreads giveaways. I'm torn about this book. There were definite parts I liked but so much of this book was super repetitive and didn't need to be there. Especially the repeating of the crime. We get it, two officers were shot! There was absolutely no need to keep repeating the crime. It probably could have cut the book down quite a bit if every since time it had been repeated. There were also parts about other Florida crimes that really no connection to the main crime I won this book through Goodreads giveaways. I'm torn about this book. There were definite parts I liked but so much of this book was super repetitive and didn't need to be there. Especially the repeating of the crime. We get it, two officers were shot! There was absolutely no need to keep repeating the crime. It probably could have cut the book down quite a bit if every since time it had been repeated. There were also parts about other Florida crimes that really no connection to the main crime of the book and it was only to connect people but it was pointless and did nothing to help figure out who killed the two officers. The writing overall is easy to read and non-complicated, however, the timeline, jesus, it was all over the place and so confusing. Also, photographs of rest stop at the beginning would be have been helpful. A lot of this book reminds me of Sara Gruen and her saga. It's just sad. I get the author wanted to get to the bottom of who shot the officers but this just seemed so long and drawn out about it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    littlefoot_books

    3.5-4 stars I am a big consumer of true crime. Podcasts, books, documentaries, articles...I take it any way I can get it! Reading Two Truths and a Lie felt like watching a compelling docuseries. Mcgarrahan is a journalist turned private investigator who is haunted by the execution of Jesse Tafero, a convicted murderer of 2 cops, that she witnessed years ago. When rumors swirl that Tafero may have been innocent, Mcgarrahan is determined to find the truth and finally put this case to rest. Does she 3.5-4 stars I am a big consumer of true crime. Podcasts, books, documentaries, articles...I take it any way I can get it! Reading Two Truths and a Lie felt like watching a compelling docuseries. Mcgarrahan is a journalist turned private investigator who is haunted by the execution of Jesse Tafero, a convicted murderer of 2 cops, that she witnessed years ago. When rumors swirl that Tafero may have been innocent, Mcgarrahan is determined to find the truth and finally put this case to rest. Does she find the closure she desperately craves or will she end up with more questions than answers? I think what I liked best about this book is the look inside the life of a private investigator: how consuming it is, how dangerous it is and how much courage it takes to find the truth. This case was personal for Mcgarrahan. Tafero’s execution was not smooth and peaceful and knowing that he may have been innocent, drove Mcgarrahan to seek answers. This case had connections to the mob, drug cartels and even jewel thieves. Lots of players in this story made for an interesting and compelling read! There was some repetition throughout, which bothered me at some points, but not enough that it took away from the overall purpose of the book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    the overstuffed bookshelf

    Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Random House for this copy of Two Truths and a Lie by Ellen McGarrahan. Two truths and a Lie is a very hard book to categorize, part true crime, part memoir. As true crime it was very good, as a memoir it was outstanding. Ellen McGarrahan witnesses the carrying out of the death sentence at the start of a career in journalism. McGarrahan eventually leaves journalism behind but can never shake what she witnessed years before at that execut Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Random House for this copy of Two Truths and a Lie by Ellen McGarrahan. Two truths and a Lie is a very hard book to categorize, part true crime, part memoir. As true crime it was very good, as a memoir it was outstanding. Ellen McGarrahan witnesses the carrying out of the death sentence at the start of a career in journalism. McGarrahan eventually leaves journalism behind but can never shake what she witnessed years before at that execution. The execution of Jesse Tafero haunts the author through her adult life until she decides to find out the truth of Jesse's life and death and if a mistake was made on death row that day. I really liked this book. Very well written and constructed. All of the obvious, and some not so obvious, questions are answered. It was a little long for me though, I kept feeling that the story had been told and didn't need to be repeated. That's not a big deal in a book with such great writing. Fans of true crime and memoir are in for a treat with this one!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cj

    As a young reporter, Ellen McGarrahan witnessed the execution of a man who had been convicted of killing several police officers. Although McGarrahan didn’t stay on that job for long, she wasn’t able to shake that experience. In this memoir, she recounts her attempts to dig deeper into the crime that led to the execution. At the beginning of the book, McGarrahan leans into her role as a private detective. The writing is modern and fast-paced, and the rhythm evokes an old school noir. As McGarrah As a young reporter, Ellen McGarrahan witnessed the execution of a man who had been convicted of killing several police officers. Although McGarrahan didn’t stay on that job for long, she wasn’t able to shake that experience. In this memoir, she recounts her attempts to dig deeper into the crime that led to the execution. At the beginning of the book, McGarrahan leans into her role as a private detective. The writing is modern and fast-paced, and the rhythm evokes an old school noir. As McGarrahan pursues information about the crime, the tone slowly shifts and becomes more personal as she begins to come to terms with the trauma that she has not been able to outrun. The topic was heavy, but this memoir was very well-written. I was hooked almost immediately and jumped right into the investigation with her,. When she began to focus more on the ‘why’ of her journey, I was cheering her on. This book deals with heavy subject matter, but the constant focus on the act of investigating leaves little time for reflection, both for McGarrahan and the reader. True crime fans and detective story readers will enjoy following along with McGarrahan as she seeks to find answers. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

  29. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Hightower

    Ellen McGarrahan has been haunted by a case since 1990. She was a young reporter and she covered the execution of Jesse Tafero. He was charged with murdering two police offers. She witnessed the execution and something went wrong and he started on fire. But shortly after his execution people are wondering if they sent the wrong man to death. This makes her life spiral and she overgoes many life and career changes until she finally decides she has to find out what truly happened. This unfortunatel Ellen McGarrahan has been haunted by a case since 1990. She was a young reporter and she covered the execution of Jesse Tafero. He was charged with murdering two police offers. She witnessed the execution and something went wrong and he started on fire. But shortly after his execution people are wondering if they sent the wrong man to death. This makes her life spiral and she overgoes many life and career changes until she finally decides she has to find out what truly happened. This unfortunately was a DNF for me because I was expecting true crime and it was more of a memoir. I think if I would have gone into it more with the mindset of it being a memoir I would have been able to get more into it but this novel was more about how this crime impacted her life and her choices as opposed to the crime itself. Thanks so much to NetGalley and Random House for sharing this ARC with me in exchange for my honest opinion.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Ellen McGarrahan was a reporter for the Miami Herald when she was sent to witness the execution of Jesse Tafero who had been convicted of murdering 2 police officers. Tafero made eye contact with all the witnesses to his execution. This and the flames and smoke that were emitted from his head as the executioner needed 3 attempts to kill him haunted her. She decided to investigate his arrest, trial, and stay on death row. There were other key figures at the murder site and their roles are thoroug Ellen McGarrahan was a reporter for the Miami Herald when she was sent to witness the execution of Jesse Tafero who had been convicted of murdering 2 police officers. Tafero made eye contact with all the witnesses to his execution. This and the flames and smoke that were emitted from his head as the executioner needed 3 attempts to kill him haunted her. She decided to investigate his arrest, trial, and stay on death row. There were other key figures at the murder site and their roles are thoroughly investigated. She comes to a definite conclusion about the innocence or guilt of Trafero. This was an interesting and challenging read that brought to life the many people who suffer after a murder. I found out about this book after watching a Zoom author interview conducted by The Bookstall of Winnetka, IL. I highly recommend their events which are listed on their website.

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