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Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

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A provocative and original investigation of our cultural fascination with crime, linking four archetypes—Detective, Victim, Attorney, Killer—to four true stories about women driven by obsession. In this illuminating exploration of women, violence, and obsession, Rachel Monroe interrogates the appeal of true crime through four narratives of fixation. In the 1940s, a bored he A provocative and original investigation of our cultural fascination with crime, linking four archetypes—Detective, Victim, Attorney, Killer—to four true stories about women driven by obsession. In this illuminating exploration of women, violence, and obsession, Rachel Monroe interrogates the appeal of true crime through four narratives of fixation. In the 1940s, a bored heiress began creating dollhouse crime scenes depicting murders, suicides, and accidental deaths. Known as the “Mother of Forensic Science,” she revolutionized the field of what was then called legal medicine. In the aftermath of the Manson Family murders, a young woman moved into Sharon Tate’s guesthouse and, over the next two decades, entwined herself with the Tate family. In the mid-nineties, a landscape architect in Brooklyn fell in love with a convicted murderer, the supposed ringleader of the West Memphis Three, through an intense series of letters. After they married, she devoted her life to getting him freed from death row. And in 2015, a teenager deeply involved in the online fandom for the Columbine killers planned a mass shooting of her own. Each woman, Monroe argues, represents and identifies with a particular archetype that provides an entryway into true crime. Through these four cases, she traces the history of American crime through the growth of forensic science, the evolving role of victims, the Satanic Panic, the rise of online detectives, and the long shadow of the Columbine shooting. In a combination of personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media in the twentieth and twenty-first century, Savage Appetites scrupulously explores empathy, justice, and the persistent appeal of violence.


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A provocative and original investigation of our cultural fascination with crime, linking four archetypes—Detective, Victim, Attorney, Killer—to four true stories about women driven by obsession. In this illuminating exploration of women, violence, and obsession, Rachel Monroe interrogates the appeal of true crime through four narratives of fixation. In the 1940s, a bored he A provocative and original investigation of our cultural fascination with crime, linking four archetypes—Detective, Victim, Attorney, Killer—to four true stories about women driven by obsession. In this illuminating exploration of women, violence, and obsession, Rachel Monroe interrogates the appeal of true crime through four narratives of fixation. In the 1940s, a bored heiress began creating dollhouse crime scenes depicting murders, suicides, and accidental deaths. Known as the “Mother of Forensic Science,” she revolutionized the field of what was then called legal medicine. In the aftermath of the Manson Family murders, a young woman moved into Sharon Tate’s guesthouse and, over the next two decades, entwined herself with the Tate family. In the mid-nineties, a landscape architect in Brooklyn fell in love with a convicted murderer, the supposed ringleader of the West Memphis Three, through an intense series of letters. After they married, she devoted her life to getting him freed from death row. And in 2015, a teenager deeply involved in the online fandom for the Columbine killers planned a mass shooting of her own. Each woman, Monroe argues, represents and identifies with a particular archetype that provides an entryway into true crime. Through these four cases, she traces the history of American crime through the growth of forensic science, the evolving role of victims, the Satanic Panic, the rise of online detectives, and the long shadow of the Columbine shooting. In a combination of personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media in the twentieth and twenty-first century, Savage Appetites scrupulously explores empathy, justice, and the persistent appeal of violence.

30 review for Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 This book was chock filled with book coincidences, it was eerie, maybe fated that I picked it up. Monroe explains the attraction reading about crime holds for many, from internet sides full of amateur crime investigators working on cold cases, to those who are attracted to the criminals themselves. Columbine, whose followers have their own groups, people who admire those two young killers of many, calling themselves Columbiners. Starting with the Manson murders, the witchcraft scare, to a yo 3.5 This book was chock filled with book coincidences, it was eerie, maybe fated that I picked it up. Monroe explains the attraction reading about crime holds for many, from internet sides full of amateur crime investigators working on cold cases, to those who are attracted to the criminals themselves. Columbine, whose followers have their own groups, people who admire those two young killers of many, calling themselves Columbiners. Starting with the Manson murders, the witchcraft scare, to a young woman, now spending her life in prison. These people sensationlize crime, and those who commit them. I've always had an interest in people's motivations. What makes them do what they do? From cults to religious affiliations, to those who do what I wrote above. In the 1940s, a socialite also took a heady interest in crime and how they are solved. Why they are committed in the first place. Her name was France Lee and many call her the mother of forensics. She made, what are called nutshells, or dioramas of crime scenes, each on perfect down to the tiniest detail. Had never heard of her before, and this is where the first coincidence comes in. Was watching PBS, the day after I read about her and looked up to see her and her miniatures featured on Wild America. Strange, right? https://americanart.si.edu/exhibition... The next confidence is even more startling. The meds I was taking was making it difficult to sleep, so I though I'd listen to this audio and hopefully call asleep. It almost worked, until I was jarred awake, hearing the words, Geneva, Il. This town is only three miles from where I live. Seems a young woman, in her twenties, planned s mass execution with a guy she met on line. She traveled to Nova Scotia, which is where he lived, and thanks to a tip off was arrested at the airport. This happened only four years ago but I had never before heard this story. Her full story and strange relationships are good fully in this book. So, strange and quite creepy, but well explained, this book was very interesting in many ways.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Olive

    Check out my review/discussion video on booktube: https://youtu.be/TJnfyql0SY4 and the below review first appeared on Open Letters Review: In early 2017, the American cable television network Oxygen officially rebranded and started featuring almost exclusively true crime programming. The channel had always been directed toward women, but network executives noticed that the lifestyle shows they were airing weren't connecting with a viewership who was busy inhaling increasing amounts of crime storie Check out my review/discussion video on booktube: https://youtu.be/TJnfyql0SY4 and the below review first appeared on Open Letters Review: In early 2017, the American cable television network Oxygen officially rebranded and started featuring almost exclusively true crime programming. The channel had always been directed toward women, but network executives noticed that the lifestyle shows they were airing weren't connecting with a viewership who was busy inhaling increasing amounts of crime stories through movies, podcasts, and books. Their ideal audience had caught the crime bug, and they figured it was time they got a piece of that action. The choice to change lanes with their brand was clearly a financial one as they chased on the heels of the true crime trend, but they showed little interest in precisely why this type of content was resonating so deeply with today's women. That question may not have intrigued the Oxygen network, but it went on to inspire journalist Rachel Monroe to tackle the mystery of the appeal of mysteries in her new book Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession. Monroe unfolds the true crime enigma like a map, which she divides into four quadrants. In each of these, she describes a female archetype connected to a crime: the detective digging into the details of a case, the victim's loved one yearning for resolution, a tireless advocate defending the wrongly accused, and salaciously, even the killer plotting their hateful crime. She uses a true story to embody each of these four roles, immediately scratching the reader's probable itch for crime drama, even when it's within a book that is itself a larger discussion of exactly these kinds of stories. The women chosen to be under the spotlight in this book don't have any blood on their own hands, yet crime shapes a part of each of their identities. A crime scene miniaturist insists on being involved in improving a police force, although perfectionism gets under the skin of many, including the first FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. A former tenant of the guest house adjacent to the location of the Sharon Tate murders becomes so enraptured by the case that she elbows her way into a relationship with the Tate family. A documentary inspires a woman to believe unquestioningly in a convicted murderer's innocence, eventually establishing a written correspondence with him and falling deeply in love. And finally, a young misfit asserts her inherent superiority over others online, growing an admiration for the Columbine shooters and planning her own massacre with her Internet boyfriend. At the heart of each of these stories is the powerful throbbing of obsession. It drives each of their actions, but to very different ends. This theme touches nearly every talking point, challenging readers to rethink their own mental image of fixation. Merely hearing the word “obsessed” within a crime story causes images of dark figures, swaying ominously outside artificially-lit rooms, to creep into vision. When really, the emotion wears drastically different masks and each of these women have their own style of it. While the reader may be able to be critical of some of the actions of these four, complete condemnation will be challenging. These ladies may have fallen down their own rabbit holes, but so have the crime obsessed media-bingers among us. The author is far from a judgmental outsider. She doesn't attempt to pretend she's peering into the fishbowl: she's a crime junkie herself and, like many others, can't help but wonder if society is correct in thinking that ladies like herself, who find themselves absorbed by such dark material, must have something deeply corrupted inside. Interspersed throughout the book's compelling true stories are our author's descriptions of her own history with the genre and her connections to the same archetypes she's outlining. It allows a steadfast vein of relatability to run through the entire work, especially as Monroe describes her own bizarre experience at Oxygen Network's three-day crime dramatization spree, CrimeCon, during which she never seems to know if she is actually enjoying herself: I wasn't sure how to feel about CrimeCon – or this so-called true crime boom. Being surrounded by other people who shared my most morbid interests should've made me feel at home. Instead, it made me uneasy for reasons I couldn't put my finger on. It's this internal contradiction that fuels the central discussion. Slowly and quietly through this book, Monroe ruminates about what might motivate today's women to consume such a media diet. As an attempt to explain the fervor for the horror, a whole array of theories are spread out, buffet-style for the reader. Is it a woman's flair for the dramatic that draws her into a scandal? Does she get an emotional high off of the aching empathy she has for the victims? Is she trying to learn by example how best to avoid being the victim of such a crime? Perhaps the compulsion to consume these crime stories isn't any one of these things, but something unique for every individual. Could it be that, similar to the way that psychologists argue that adult romantic relationships are the arena in which we seek to resolve lingering traumas from childhood, crime stories are a way to help define our own roles within society? Regardless of which explanation for these violent crime story obsessions will seem most plausible to the reader, the book thoroughly entertains. Monroe is the perfect guide through these well-researched stories, using personal experiences, psychological insights, and historical context to direct us. True crime fans, guilty pleasure and unapologetic readers alike will want to dive into this book to try to determine what inspires their own love of the genre. In an enormously satisfying way, this book has just the right recipe to become the crime fanatic's newest obsession.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    Let's just start with all the ways in which I have specific, subjective opinions about this book. I hate the true crime trend. I specifically hate the fandoms that have grown up around true crime. For me, it is exploitative and disrespectful, it turns real problems and pain into entertainment, and it does little to take on the very real issues of violence, poverty, policing, and bias in our criminal justice system even though all of these things are central to the real world of crime and punishm Let's just start with all the ways in which I have specific, subjective opinions about this book. I hate the true crime trend. I specifically hate the fandoms that have grown up around true crime. For me, it is exploitative and disrespectful, it turns real problems and pain into entertainment, and it does little to take on the very real issues of violence, poverty, policing, and bias in our criminal justice system even though all of these things are central to the real world of crime and punishment. If that is also you, this book may look interesting to you the way it did to me. Because I think it's time for a real examination of why and how our culture is obsessed with true crime. But if you feel the way I do, it's very possible the book will hit you the way it hit me and not be what you wanted. This is not really the book's fault. But I assumed that I would be a good audience for this book. It turns out I am not. This book is not for me. And that's fine! It did not make me actively angry the way a lot of true crime does, it is attempting to analyze the unhealthy obsessions people (women in particular) have with true crime. But for a reader like me it feels like it has started a journey only to get off a few stops in, leaving all the real juicy stuff just sitting there untouched. I suspect that the audience for this book is the actual lovers of true crime who are ready to be more thoughtful about their obsessions. The book has stories of four women interspersed with some commentary and stories of Monroe herself and her obsessions. The main issue I have with this structure is the difference between Monroe and her subjects. The women in her stories go to extremes, like EXTREME extremes. It's too easy to separate the typical behaviors of Monroe and women like her from the women in these stories. The conclusions she wants to draw about why women become obsessed don't quite fit these other stories that are writ so large that it's easy to say, "Yeah but that person is obviously dealing with some real issues whereas I would never do that." Still, Monroe does start to make some real criticism of the culture that has sprung up around true crime obsessives and why women in particular are drawn to it. She really has the right ideas and the right themes, she just lets the other women's stories dominate the narrative. And, if you're a reader like me, she doesn't seem willing to see it all through. I realized near the end of the book that the only way this book would please me is if it were a full on indictment of this culture, and it clearly isn't ready to be that. It wants to map out the roots of these obsessions, the ways it can help women feel control in their lives, without condemning it. She seems to want her readers to consider their own feelings and see how they can be more critical without going any farther. Structurally I think there's a start here but only a start. Still, I think this book will probably appeal to a lot of people. And the ideal book in my mind probably wouldn't appeal to very many people at all! Because I am a curmudgeon who is not reliable for objective reviews of anything true crime related and that's just how it is.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    Rachel Monroe’s book delves into the issue of women and their obsession with true crime. As if that’s always a bad thing. This is basically divided into four sections relating four different cases the author examines as separate cases to consider as studies. I was already familiar with the one of the heiress in the 1940’s who came up with and then crafted a dozen miniaturized crime scenes called nutshells that were used for teaching what later became known as forensics. The second chapter is on Rachel Monroe’s book delves into the issue of women and their obsession with true crime. As if that’s always a bad thing. This is basically divided into four sections relating four different cases the author examines as separate cases to consider as studies. I was already familiar with the one of the heiress in the 1940’s who came up with and then crafted a dozen miniaturized crime scenes called nutshells that were used for teaching what later became known as forensics. The second chapter is on a woman who years later, moved into the house where Sharon Tate and others were murdered. She has a thing for the murders and the Tate family in particular and spends her time trying to get to know everything there is to know about both. I remember reading the book she wrote after she eventually managed to get close to remaining family members after mother Doris Tate passed away. The third chapter is about a New York woman who becomes enmeshed with one of the West Memphis Three after seeing a video on it. After falling for one of them by mail, she devotes her life to trying to get him released from death row. And finally, the fourth chapter is about a young female who becomes infatuated with the Columbine school killers after reading all about their exploits online, and begins planning a shooting of her own. This isn’t a typical true crime book, there is some discussion of the large number of women who are hooked on true crime vs. the small number of men. Then these four different kinds of examples and what they might mean. But it’s still all very interesting if you like the subject. I certainly had no complaints with it and was interested very much. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Rachel Monroe, and the publisher. My BookZone blog: https://wordpress.com/post/bookblog20...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    My standard procedure is not to give star ratings to books I don't finish, but I'm so annoyed by this book that I'm doing it anyway. Savage Appetites is a convoluted mess of a "true crime" book. The synopsis of this book sounds amazing, which is what drew me to it. However, the back of the book says that it's a combination of personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media. What this really means is that this book is a combination of judgmental opinions that w My standard procedure is not to give star ratings to books I don't finish, but I'm so annoyed by this book that I'm doing it anyway. Savage Appetites is a convoluted mess of a "true crime" book. The synopsis of this book sounds amazing, which is what drew me to it. However, the back of the book says that it's a combination of personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media. What this really means is that this book is a combination of judgmental opinions that would be better off on Twitter, the true crime stories, and a grad school thesis someone decided should be published. The beginning of the book opens at CrimeCon, and I personally attended the same one the author was at. Yeah, fine, we're weirdos, but the intro makes it sound like the author didn't even want to go since it made her uncomfortable. The author has to let everyone know that she didn't post on social media with the CrimeCon hashtag; I guess so they we'll know she's not like "other girls" 🙄. She continues on to talk about different people she met, and then the different options of activities she wasn't interested in. Maybe I took it too personally because I was there, but it just seems strange to use the introduction of your book to alienate the exact people who will probably be reading it. Then we go into the first (and my final) story in which the author gives her unsolicited negative opinions the women she's telling the story about. The women spend their time making morbid dioramas / dollhouses. She talks about their lack of ambition, lack of control, etc. Maybe these judgments are true, but I don't really feel like I need to be told that by a "true crime" book. There's also some judgment about how these women spend their money, and they're put in juxtaposition to women who are becoming cops. Just stop. Women can do different things. The author also lets us know that she used to want to be a cop, so once again we learn that the author is not like "other girls". I don't read true crime to hear someone's shitty opinion. I read true crime to hear a story and learn something, and Savage Appetites does not provide that.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    3.5 stars Our society has become obsessed with true crime.  Podcasts, books, TV shows, websites, and TV channels devote hours to discussing crimes.  Statistically speaking, it's women who are fueling this obsession.  The overwhelming majority of true crime readers and true crime podcast listeners are female.  According to Monroe, forensic science is one of the fastest growing college majors and seven in ten of those students are female.  Rachel Monroe has chosen four stories to discuss the history 3.5 stars Our society has become obsessed with true crime.  Podcasts, books, TV shows, websites, and TV channels devote hours to discussing crimes.  Statistically speaking, it's women who are fueling this obsession.  The overwhelming majority of true crime readers and true crime podcast listeners are female.  According to Monroe, forensic science is one of the fastest growing college majors and seven in ten of those students are female.  Rachel Monroe has chosen four stories to discuss the history of forensics and the true-crime obsessed while also analyzing her own fascination with the genre and its effect on her life. "The four women in this book were encouraged to lead small lives or to keep parts of themselves hidden; becoming entwined with a famous crime enlarged their worlds and allowed them to express thing they couldn't otherwise voice." * Savage Appetites divides four stories into chapters, including:  The Detective, The Victim, The Defender, and The Killer. The Detective tells readers the story of Frances Glessner Lee, a wealthy heiress who used her time and money to create Nutshells---painstakingly detailed miniatures of crime scenes that were used as training tools for law enforcement.  Lee was an unlikely detective whose obsession with crime was tolerated because of her wealth. The Victim follows the bizarre story of life for actress Sharon Tate's family after her death at the hands of the Manson Family.  Tate's younger sister Patti eventually became the family spokesperson after her mother's death with the support of Alisa Statman.   In 1990, Statman moved into the Beverly Hills guesthouse on the property where Sharon Tate and her friends were murdered.  Statman claims she only became interested in the history of Sharon Tate after she moved in and helped writer Bill Nelson with some research.  Either way, she eventually became close with Patti and continued to raise Patti's children and speak for the family after her death. The Defender explores the relationship between Lorri Davis and death row inmate Damien Echols, one of the "West Memphis Three" accused of murdering three eight-year-old boys in Arkansas.  Lorri and Damien became acquainted through letters after Lorri watched a documentary about the murders and believed Damien to be innocent.  She quickly became fixated on the case and began a romantic relationship with him. Lorri left a successful life in NYC to move closer to Damien.  The couple married and Lorri devoted all of her time to the case. The West Memphis Three gained the support of several celebrities who funded further investigation that could lead to new evidence that would allow for a new trial and all three men were eventually released from prison.   The Killer details the progression of an online chat between Lindsay Souvannarath and her friend James who both shared an obsession with Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.  The pair eventually begin planning to open fire at a mall in Nova Scotia but an anonymous tip prevents them from carrying out their plan.  Many people believe their discussion was mostly bravado and the young couple would never have actually opened fire but there was certainly intent since Lindsay boarded the plane to Nova Scotia to meet James. I found all four of these stories to be fascinating and enjoyed the discussion and structure of the book.  All four women are vastly different and that's why the stories work so well together. "The more time I spent with their stories, the more I realized that there wasn't a simple, universal answer to why women were fascinated by true crime---because "woman" is not a simple, universal catergory. Obsession was a recurring theme in their lives, but that obsession wasn't monolithic. It stemmed from different motivations, had different objects and different implications." * Savage Appetites is four true crime stories that explore obsession and motivation in relation to women who gravitate to the subject. I recommend it for readers who enjoy true crime and sociology. Thanks to Scribner and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession is scheduled for release on August 20, 2019. *Quotes included are from a digital advanced reader's copy and are subject to change upon final publication. For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  7. 4 out of 5

    Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)

    This is one hot mess of a book. The introduction reads like a bad article someone with an interest in true crime might dig up on the internet, read a little bit of, click elsewhere, and then forget entirely. By the time I made it to the last page (heaven help me, somehow I made it) it was more than eminently clear that whatever fascination the author might have originally held for true crime had soured. And with it, went whatever interesting magic this book might have held. Here’s a thought: mayb This is one hot mess of a book. The introduction reads like a bad article someone with an interest in true crime might dig up on the internet, read a little bit of, click elsewhere, and then forget entirely. By the time I made it to the last page (heaven help me, somehow I made it) it was more than eminently clear that whatever fascination the author might have originally held for true crime had soured. And with it, went whatever interesting magic this book might have held. Here’s a thought: maybe don’t judge and alienate the people who will be interested in reading your book? I am all for a critical look at whatever the hell you want, and people are more than entitled to their own opinions (as I sit here and type mine out), but the descriptions of the people attending CrimeCon in the first and last section of this book felt savagely judgmental to me. The author’s ire is also focused mainly at women (problematic to say the least!) and she doesn’t really explore the reasons behind the fascination with crime. That’s the book I want to read. Look. Is there an issue with romanticizing serial killers and exploiting real people’s trauma and loss for the sake of entertainment? Yes, I think there definitely is. And it’s definitely something to keep in mind before you buy that shirt with Gacy’s face on it. But I also think it’s OK to be interested, to want to explore the details, to want to know why. It’s part of the human condition to face death, and to do it head-on is kind of badass. If we can just know what happened to JonBenet or see what makes someone like Dahmer tick, then maybe, just maybe . . . everything else that’s exploding around us won’t seem so out of control. Who knows. Isn’t it worth a try? The book goes on to explore four different perspectives(?) of crime by looking at a few high-profile cases and crime related personalities. I am definitely well-versed in crime, but I have to say that all of the stories chosen for the book have been covered so extensively that I felt the author didn’t really have anything interesting or new to add. In each chapter, there were also some random memoir-y stuff that felt extremely out of place. This structure just felt so hodge-podge to me. None of the ideas from chapter to chapter strung together. The book felt like it needed a strong developmental edit. I would have been more interested if it have focused on one of the four chapters more fully, or incorporated a bunch of vignettes on each chapter instead of just one. The book also ends on such a sour note, it just put me off the whole thing. Even if it had some interesting ideas here and there, it comes down so negatively on the whole idea, the whole field of true crime, that I’m left wondering why the author even wrote the book at all. Doesn’t she know who the book is going to be marketed to? My thanks to Scribner Books for my copy of this one to read and review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emma Eisenberg

    If I could give this book 6 stars, I would--it is the book I have been waiting to read all my life

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karen Smith

    This book is predicated on lies and a complete failure of any moral compass. The *true* story behind Alisa Statman's relationship with Patti Tate was never told in Monroe's book. They were domestic partners. Not roommates, not friends, not acquaintances. Statman did not 'entwine' herself or 'worm her way' into the Tate family. She fell in love with Patti and Patti fell in love with her. End of file. There was no ulterior motive, no 'obsession' with the murders, no untoward reasons for their rela This book is predicated on lies and a complete failure of any moral compass. The *true* story behind Alisa Statman's relationship with Patti Tate was never told in Monroe's book. They were domestic partners. Not roommates, not friends, not acquaintances. Statman did not 'entwine' herself or 'worm her way' into the Tate family. She fell in love with Patti and Patti fell in love with her. End of file. There was no ulterior motive, no 'obsession' with the murders, no untoward reasons for their relationship whatsoever. It was a love story, nothing more. Why Monroe fails to acknowledge this fact is a question that should be pondered by all readers. Monroe asserts that Alisa and Patti's relationship was forged solely on an obsession with the murder of Sharon Tate. This despicable assertion translates into the idea that Patti Tate, Doris Tate, PJ Tate and Patti's children must have been incredibly daft to accept and love Alisa as part of their family, which they did. Think about that. This family, who endured the shattering of their private lives in a public forum, a man who spent his life as a military intelligence officer, a woman, who through her tenacity and unending work forged new laws in the arena of victim's rights, a sister who took that helm in the wake of her mother's death--all of them somehow fell for a ruse? If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you. Not only is that conclusion disgusting, it is indefensible by Doris, Patti and PJ since they are no longer with us and have no voice to push back. So, I'm doing it for all of them. Second, Monroe lumps all of the women from true crime events into one broad-brush category of obsessives instead of realizing that the vast majority of them are valuable resources with different eyes who may see something that we detectives (yes, I am one) might have missed. Armchair detectives such as these attendees view crimes with an open mind and might reveal new evidence through their clear lenses. We appreciate their work and will listen to their ideas, unlike Monroe, who doesn't have the gumption to follow her own "dream" of actually becoming a detective and doing the work it entails. Instead, she finds satisfaction in slamming people whom she deems 'obsessive' without shining that same spotlight on herself and in her words, her own "comfort food" - the Manson case. Ask yourself why Monroe fails to delve into her own world of true crime obsession and drops the ball over and over again without giving readers the full view. It's because she is a coward, but that would have been a book worth reading. Third, and full disclosure: I am Alisa Statman's wife. I was never interviewed for Monroe's book, even though the option was offered since Monroe alleged that she was writing about forensic science- my profession for nearly two decades. None of Alisa's friends or family were interviewed, either. I was present when Monroe's ruse of an "off-the-record interview" took place. Alisa graciously accepted, but Monroe lied about the subject, stating it would be about Doris and Patti Tate and their work in the victim's rights arena. Instead, Monroe made herself a nosy parker and only asked questions about how Alisa and Patti met and then asked questions about Patti's sister Debra. After ten minutes and numerous requests by Alisa to talk about the original, alleged subject of victim's rights that went unheard and unaddressed ("Yeah, yeah, we'll get to that in a minute," Monroe said), Alisa hung up on her. Take that to the bank. It has since been discovered that Monroe has been stalking Statman on several blog sites since 2012, and has attempted to get people to divulge information about her from outside sources that do not know Statman or her story. Journalism? No. A journalist would have contacted those who know the subjects best to find the truth, but Monroe doesn't care about facts. She just trolled the internet for false information to back up her preconceived notions. There were plenty of friends and family that Monroe could have contacted about Alisa and Patti to tell the true story, but none were ever called. I wonder why? Why didn't Monroe contact Patti's children? There's an unbiased source for you. Think about it. Just remember that Monroe has zero experience in the arena of true crime. As a retired detective with over 20,000 cases and 500 death investigations under my belt (and a 99% clearance rate, by the way), I am appalled that this book was ever published, and at the subjectivity with which it is presented. True crime is not based on opinion and a vendetta, but that's what you're getting here. If you want to know about true crime, ask me, but I hope you've got a hell of a lot of time on your hands.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kristy K

    While definitely interesting, this wasn’t what I expected when I went into it. This reads as a part-memoir, part-biography of women who obsessed over crime. This will appeal to the niche of true crime lovers who are fascinated by those who take their devotion a step further. I received an advanced copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    I was surprised by how much I liked this book. It’s not what I thought. The author smartly uses known true crime to share a commentary on women, crime, and obsession. So much to talk about here.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erin Clemence

    Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic version of this novel received in exchange for an honest review. Why are women (especially) so obsessed with crime? The facts that show that women watch crime shows, read true crime novels and follow crime stories at a higher rate than men. Is it because we sympathize with the victims, or are we trying to not become victims ourselves? Rachel Monroe, through her novel, “Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, an Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic version of this novel received in exchange for an honest review. Why are women (especially) so obsessed with crime? The facts that show that women watch crime shows, read true crime novels and follow crime stories at a higher rate than men. Is it because we sympathize with the victims, or are we trying to not become victims ourselves? Rachel Monroe, through her novel, “Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession” takes us through the fascination some of us have with violent crimes and those that commit them. According to Monroe, women who obsess over true crime fall into four archetypes; the detective (those of us who are determined to solve the murder by finding clues the cops “must have missed”), the victim (we sympathize with the victim to extremes, becoming involved in their families, holding rallies, etc.), the defender (those of us who believe the suspect charged is indeed innocent, and decide to examine the details of the case to prove their innocence and, in more drastic extremes, even form relationships with the suspected criminal themselves) and, the smallest percentage, the killer (self-explanatory here). This novel does not have chapters per se, in fact it has four large sections (each covering one archetype), but each section is separated in parts. Some of the sections talk about each archetype and examples from modern history, and then it is broken up by sections from the author’s crime-obsessed child hood. A memoir of sorts, of five women (including the author) who’s passion for crime has led them down different paths. I enjoyed the true crime examples in this novel. From the 1940s, when the elderly woman who portrayed crimes through dollhouse miniatures and ingratiated herself with local police, inundating them with details and clues that they “obviously overlooked” to present day, with the teenaged girl who conspired with a young boy she met on the Internet to plot a mass shooting at a local mall (that never came to fruition, luckily). Monroe’s involvement was merely on a research basis, examining local stories and interviewing participants, attending CrimeCon (um, hello? How have I not heard of this before?) but she provides a bit more of a realistic perspective. Monroe is “one of us”, a seemingly normal woman whose obsession with crime turned into a career. She is the one who makes me feel less of a “weirdo” for my desperate fascination with the criminal mind. Very well researched, Monroe will provide you with details from stories you already know (such as Columbine or the Sharon Tate murder) while at the same time, discussing those you may have never heard of (such as the “dollhouse detective”). A non-fiction, true crime novel for those of us who wonder if we are alone in our fascination with crime and the workings of the criminal mind (spoiler alert: we aren’t). Using the four archetypes, Monroe tries to analyze the reasons for this seemingly twisted female (in particular) interest.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Robert Sheard

    I thought this was going to be a true crime book focusing on four women criminals, which would have been interesting in its own way. But it's actually a book about four women who were obsessed with true crime itself. Monroe puts them into four categories based on whom they identify with in the crime scenario: the detective, the victim, the defender, or the killer. It's an interesting perspective in light of the fact that violent crimes in America are way down in recent years, but most people bel I thought this was going to be a true crime book focusing on four women criminals, which would have been interesting in its own way. But it's actually a book about four women who were obsessed with true crime itself. Monroe puts them into four categories based on whom they identify with in the crime scenario: the detective, the victim, the defender, or the killer. It's an interesting perspective in light of the fact that violent crimes in America are way down in recent years, but most people believe that the crime rate has become worse–an phenomenon known as "mean world syndrome." That misperception leads to the kinds of stories we've all read about mostly white women calling the police because someone near them was guilty of being black, someone making them "feel unsafe." So even though our society is statistically safer, we act as if it's less so, in part because of the culture's focus on the violent criminals as celebrities. What a messed up cycle we've made for ourselves through social media.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    I liked this book more than I thought I would as the title to me suggested it to be about some weird sexual obsession of women with killers and I’m so glad it wasn’t. The book is structured into mainly four sections and shows the different ways in how woman can become obsessed with different aspects of true crime: detective, victim, defender, killer. This book is less about the crimes itself but more like a criticism on how North American society approaches true crime. It’s tough to say what a s I liked this book more than I thought I would as the title to me suggested it to be about some weird sexual obsession of women with killers and I’m so glad it wasn’t. The book is structured into mainly four sections and shows the different ways in how woman can become obsessed with different aspects of true crime: detective, victim, defender, killer. This book is less about the crimes itself but more like a criticism on how North American society approaches true crime. It’s tough to say what a single book is supposed to do but I wish she would’ve explored the following ideas more instead of maybe inserting the sections about her personal touches with true crime: the motivations behind creating a fear-based mentality within society, the performative aspect of the criminal justice system, the way the media reports on true crime, the history of the criminal justice system, and the motivations behind some of the legislations mentioned. Most of not all of these center whiteness within society. Some of those aspects are mentioned but could have taken up more space within the book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Gillig

    a quick read that wonders (but not too hard) about why people, especially & overwhelmingly women, are drawn to true crime/forensics. it's full of interesting facts & slowly builds a history of forensic science & shies away from a lot of the violence of the crimes that are mentioned which is good for me, somebody who's pretty soft & was drawn to the book because i don't quite understand true crime fandom. this really is a great book about obsession, i think, & all of its strange channels & it's d a quick read that wonders (but not too hard) about why people, especially & overwhelmingly women, are drawn to true crime/forensics. it's full of interesting facts & slowly builds a history of forensic science & shies away from a lot of the violence of the crimes that are mentioned which is good for me, somebody who's pretty soft & was drawn to the book because i don't quite understand true crime fandom. this really is a great book about obsession, i think, & all of its strange channels & it's driven by that same chaotic love of information, so a little messy. i've seen some comments about monroe seeking to vilify or condemn the women in this book, but really i think she's just trying to understand & it didn't come off as anything more than that to me... the book maybe suffers from its desire to take stances that tugs at its desire 2 entertain. anyway great beach read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Karyn

    Savage Appetites surprised me with unique perspectives on women in the crime experience of murder. After having read many true crime books through the years, Rachel Monroe took me on a different path, and my view has expanded as a result. I rate this a solid 4.5 and highly recommend it to anyone seeking a few new insights on a well worn topic.

  17. 5 out of 5

    vanessa

    This book was disturbing for me to read at times - particularly the last story which gave me the heebie-jeebies. I really enjoyed the author's writing: it's analytical and thoughtful and sentimental in a way. The detective and defender stories probably most resembled my interest in true crime, but every story was about something I didn't know too much about (even the West Memphis 3 and the Tate-LaBianca murders are not rabbit holes I've ever truly fallen down so each story felt new and intriguin This book was disturbing for me to read at times - particularly the last story which gave me the heebie-jeebies. I really enjoyed the author's writing: it's analytical and thoughtful and sentimental in a way. The detective and defender stories probably most resembled my interest in true crime, but every story was about something I didn't know too much about (even the West Memphis 3 and the Tate-LaBianca murders are not rabbit holes I've ever truly fallen down so each story felt new and intriguing to me). I especially liked how the author used it all as a discussion of the archetypes found in the whole true crime community. Still... watch for the last story which I read before bed and I truly had a nightmare because of it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chermaine

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I'm finally glad to see a true crime book that talks about the complexities of people's interest in death and murder and all those things and even how many women aren't just some mindless creatures who decide to become Serial Killers groupies or decide to become murderers because some man told them to. It's extremely interesting in that it is satisfying to see that there are people who look at this and are horrified at the things that Humanity can do but ,they want to understand it maybe be to ma I'm finally glad to see a true crime book that talks about the complexities of people's interest in death and murder and all those things and even how many women aren't just some mindless creatures who decide to become Serial Killers groupies or decide to become murderers because some man told them to. It's extremely interesting in that it is satisfying to see that there are people who look at this and are horrified at the things that Humanity can do but ,they want to understand it maybe be to make themselves feel better, but often its just so they can do more than prevent things from happening and to understand how it could happen in the first place.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Luce

    Well written and well researched. A great study of what makes true crime junkies tick. The book focuses on 4 women involved with true crime in various ways. One more or less helped create modern day forensics, one is married to a murderer, and the other 2 have inserted themselves into the aftermath of the crimes. The pacing is good and kept me reading long into the night. I'd love to read about more people obsessed with true crime and the lengths they will got to. ARC received for an honest review Well written and well researched. A great study of what makes true crime junkies tick. The book focuses on 4 women involved with true crime in various ways. One more or less helped create modern day forensics, one is married to a murderer, and the other 2 have inserted themselves into the aftermath of the crimes. The pacing is good and kept me reading long into the night. I'd love to read about more people obsessed with true crime and the lengths they will got to. ARC received for an honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    As other reviewers have noted--not a true crime book so much as one about true crime and its fascinations, which suited me just fine (I've never been a true crime devotee, but I have e.g. gone down the rabbit hole of reading serial killer fandom Tumblrs). It's a fascinating topic, and I could have read twice as many of these case studies. Rachel Monroe is both a top notch investigator and skilled prose stylist, and we are lucky to get to read her words!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I've often wondered where my love for true crime comes from and what this obsession means about my personality. Rachel Monroe had the same wonderings and wrote this nonfiction book about the different aspects of true crime and why some people are drawn to it. The book is divided into four parts: 1. The Detective - focusing on Frances Glessner Lee (the female pioneer of forensics who built miniature replications of crime scenes in the 1940s) 2. The Victim - revolving around Sharon Tate and her role I've often wondered where my love for true crime comes from and what this obsession means about my personality. Rachel Monroe had the same wonderings and wrote this nonfiction book about the different aspects of true crime and why some people are drawn to it. The book is divided into four parts: 1. The Detective - focusing on Frances Glessner Lee (the female pioneer of forensics who built miniature replications of crime scenes in the 1940s) 2. The Victim - revolving around Sharon Tate and her role as a victim of the Manson family 3. The Defender - which talks about the case of the wrongly-convicted West Memphis Three (and the story of how a 'normal' woman got married to a prison inmate) 4. The Killer - which describes a relationship between two potential mass murderers (one of whom is a young girl obsessed with online forums dedicated to killers) While well-known cases like Tate and Columbine are described in detail, there was so much to learn in this book (even when events were over-reported on by the media). Monroe's style of writing was perfect for a non-fiction book - there was absolutely no dryness or piling on of unnecessary details. In fact, I gobbled each page up as if I was reading a fast-paced thriller. I also loved how Monroe brought her own experiences as a journalist and true crime fan into the story - this was a helpful throughline to tie all of the separate cases together. I absolutely recommend this book for any true crime fans out there (especially women like me who love Nancy Grace and a good Forensic File rerun). I'll be eagerly anticipating Monroe's next book!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alison Hardtmann

    Perhaps true crime stories are contemporary fairy tales--not the Disney versions but the dimmer, Grimm-er ones, where the parents are sometimes homicidal, where the young girls don't always make it out of the forest intact. We keep following them into the dark woods anyway. Parts of ourselves long for these shadowy places; we'll discover things there that we can't learn anywhere else. A friend recommended this book to me when we discussed why we like crime novels so much. What is it about the dar Perhaps true crime stories are contemporary fairy tales--not the Disney versions but the dimmer, Grimm-er ones, where the parents are sometimes homicidal, where the young girls don't always make it out of the forest intact. We keep following them into the dark woods anyway. Parts of ourselves long for these shadowy places; we'll discover things there that we can't learn anywhere else. A friend recommended this book to me when we discussed why we like crime novels so much. What is it about the darkest, more horrible things that one human can do to another that exerts such a draw on our imagination? Her answer was that we're all ghouls, but she also mentioned this book, when I wondered if it was more a way of explaining the inexplicable, of forming a pattern out of disorder. And I have to thank her for the recommendation. This book goes further into this topic, one that is often raised and written about, and delivers, I think, some plausible answers, or at least a bit of clarity. Monroe looks at four women, the first woman, Frances Lee, was born over a century ago. Denied the opportunity of a career or even higher education, she'd eventually throw her full efforts into funding a department of forensic science and then, as she saw herself valued only as a cheque-writer, she created a series of dioramas, intended to teach police officers how to look at crime scenes. The chapter on Lee was followed by chapter about a woman who insinuated herself into the family of a famous murder victim, eventually taking over the role of speaking on behalf of the family and living in their home; a chapter about a woman who felt so compelled to advocate for a man she saw as being falsely convicted that she changed her entire life into fighting for his release, eventually even marrying him; and finally a look at a woman who contemplated murder herself. Monroe used each case study to examine the different ways women are fascinated by crime, from the readers of detective fiction to those who spend hours running down leads in abandoned unsolved crimes, to the dark corners of the internet where murderers have fan clubs. Detective stories satisfy our desire for tidy solutions. They make the seductive promise that we can tame the chaos of crime by breaking it down into small, comprehensible pieces. They allow us to inhabit the role of the objective observer, someone who exists outside and above the scene of the crime, scrutinizing the horror as if it were a dollhouse.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Dealy

    If you slug through the meandering structurelessness of this book you will find some interesting stories. However, they are so coated in the author’s meaningless personal anecdotes, over exposition of well know cultural events and judgment of the audience she is writing about (which includes herself) - that they are hard to find. Additionally, most of the interesting nuggets in here have already been covered many times over by reporters more talented than her. I think this author was a lover of If you slug through the meandering structurelessness of this book you will find some interesting stories. However, they are so coated in the author’s meaningless personal anecdotes, over exposition of well know cultural events and judgment of the audience she is writing about (which includes herself) - that they are hard to find. Additionally, most of the interesting nuggets in here have already been covered many times over by reporters more talented than her. I think this author was a lover of true crime who set out to write a true crime book then got a little sick to her stomach about the glamorization of serial killers so tried to make some sort of anti-true crime thing. She did not succeed. The book says nothing. It feels like a book that any one of the true crime loving women in my life could write better. Why are people interested in crime? Why are women very interested in crime? Is it damaging to society to be interested in crime? These are all questions the book pretends it’s trying to answer. And while she inserts SO much of herself into the book, none of it was vulnerable or unique or important in any way. It was so impersonal. This must be how she is as an interviewer too because apparently she only interviewed two out of the three living subjects and I couldn’t tell which was which because her writing contained nothing I couldn’t look up myself. It felt like she condensed a few nights of frantic Wikipedia-ing into a book. Which wasn’t utterly terrible to read, it just wasn’t important either.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Megan Collins

    In SAVAGE APPETITES, journalist Rachel Monroe confronts our obsession with true crime. By analyzing four archetypes—the detective, the victim, the defender, and the killer—through the lens of four different women’s lives, she explores why women in particular are so drawn to crime stories. What can we gain from engaging with those narratives? What can we potentially lose? Why do we reach toward something that also makes us recoil? I was really interested in this book because those questions are a In SAVAGE APPETITES, journalist Rachel Monroe confronts our obsession with true crime. By analyzing four archetypes—the detective, the victim, the defender, and the killer—through the lens of four different women’s lives, she explores why women in particular are so drawn to crime stories. What can we gain from engaging with those narratives? What can we potentially lose? Why do we reach toward something that also makes us recoil? I was really interested in this book because those questions are at the center of who I am as a writer. I’m often told that my work is very “dark”—and I always feel there’s the implication of a tacked-on “for a woman” in that statement. Women are expected to be sunny, be smiling, so is that why we crave such twisted and horrifying stories? Are we pushing away the mask that society would have us wear? Or do we recognize our own stories, our own wounds, in true crime? Do we see them as a metaphor for the pain we’ve experienced? And in that way, is bingeing podcasts and murder shows a kind of catharsis? While this book didn’t necessarily give me a lot of concrete answers to these questions, it offered four compelling narratives, each with thought-provoking insights into the delicious, dangerous pull we feel toward true crime. If you’re interested in some of the questions I’ve posed here, I’d recommend adding this to your TBR.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    SAVAGE APPETITES is a must read, not just for fans of True Crime, but for everyone who must make their way through a world over-saturated with tales of crime by the 24-hour news cycle. In this book, Rachel Monroe delves into the stories of four women who were not directly affected by violent crimes, but instead became obsessed with them, and subsequently had their lives changed -not always for the better. Monroe frames the narrative with her own fascination with True Crime, and both the comfort SAVAGE APPETITES is a must read, not just for fans of True Crime, but for everyone who must make their way through a world over-saturated with tales of crime by the 24-hour news cycle. In this book, Rachel Monroe delves into the stories of four women who were not directly affected by violent crimes, but instead became obsessed with them, and subsequently had their lives changed -not always for the better. Monroe frames the narrative with her own fascination with True Crime, and both the comfort and shame in the genre that many True Crime fans will identify with. Monroe explores what it means to be fascinated by these horrifying stories, the reasons why the fanbase is largely female, as well as what the stories we choose to tell say about the genre. This book is deeply insightful, incredibly perceptive, beautifully written, and I couldn't put it down. Before you pick up another True Crime book or tune into the next season of Serial, you should read SAVAGE APPETITES. You won't regret it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Savage Appetites is a unique look at women's obsession with True Crime, and four women who took that obsession to an extreme level. Writing with a journalistic prose, author Rachel Monroe has given the reader a fresh take on True Crime and fans will enjoy reading about these four cases.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cara EM

    What draws so many into the gory, fearful world of true crime? Rachel Monroe dissects one region within this popular phenomenon; namely, the women who become obsessed with true crime. Divided into 4 sections about 4 real life women, she discusses four archetypes women tend to fall into when obsessed with true crime, and their lives to perhaps explain why they fell so deeply. Monroe writes engagingly well, and the book feels more like an intimate chat versus a nonfictional look at true crime of ye What draws so many into the gory, fearful world of true crime? Rachel Monroe dissects one region within this popular phenomenon; namely, the women who become obsessed with true crime. Divided into 4 sections about 4 real life women, she discusses four archetypes women tend to fall into when obsessed with true crime, and their lives to perhaps explain why they fell so deeply. Monroe writes engagingly well, and the book feels more like an intimate chat versus a nonfictional look at true crime of years past. An interesting perspective on #ssdgm

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amie's Book Reviews

    MY REVIEW: SAVAGE APPETITES Rachel Monroe is a woman after my own heart. As she described her visit to the premiere True Crime Conference called CrimeCon in 2018, I was green with envy. Living outside the city of Toronto, Ontario in Canada, there was just no feasible way for me to attend such an event, especially since it takes place quite a distance from my home. Rachel Monroe has taken it upon herself to dig into the "why" of the appeal of True Crime to women and to explore the possible reason MY REVIEW: SAVAGE APPETITES Rachel Monroe is a woman after my own heart. As she described her visit to the premiere True Crime Conference called CrimeCon in 2018, I was green with envy. Living outside the city of Toronto, Ontario in Canada, there was just no feasible way for me to attend such an event, especially since it takes place quite a distance from my home. Rachel Monroe has taken it upon herself to dig into the "why" of the appeal of True Crime to women and to explore the possible reasons. Any female of my generation (I am 47) who are interested in this subject probably grew up reading Nancy Drew and maybe even The Hardy Boys. Rachel states that: "This detective impulse first burbled up in [her] early, say around age eight." Reading these words, I wanted to shout out loud, "Me too!" The book focuses on four very different women, from different times, but, who all had an interest in crime and murder. Their reasons are as varied as possible, yet they are all tied together by the singular theme of True Crime. I couldn't believe I had never heard of France's Glessner Lee. Sure, she was a child of the 1890s, and grew up "... Living in a mansion on Chicago's 'Millionaire's Row." But still, she was a role model for other women in adulthood and smashed through gender barriers that would have seemed impenetrable to other women of her time. I am impressed and glad that I now know about her. Thank you Rachel Monroe! The author talks about the Manson murders which have been excessively covered, and yet the way she presents this crime is less about Manson, and more about how the crime changed so many things and so many people. She speaks about the murder of Taylor Behl in 2005 which happened in her town. Rachel says "Part of what I was looking for, I realized, was overlap, all the ways she and I were similar. There was a troubling pleasure in thinking about how I could have been her, or she could have been me... It felt good, in a bad way, to think about my own proximity to violence. To imagine my life as a near miss." Rachel also addresses a phenomenon that has always perplexed me - that of women who "date" and/or marry men serving life sentences in prison. This section is a must read. I even learned a new word: HYBRISTOPHOLIA - the attraction to someone who has committed murder. I never knew there was a word for it, but, in this day and age, I should not have been surprised. All in all, Author Rachel Monroe has gone deep down many rabbit holes in her research for this book. She extensively studied so many factors that it is amazing she was able to whittle them down into a cohesive and compelling whole. I rate SAVAGE APPETITES as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐ and because of it's subject matter, I forsee it becoming a book that is widely read. Perhaps she will have her own following at CrimeCon 2020. . *** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. *** To read my full review go to: http://bit.ly/SavageApp Also, follow me on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/Amiesbookrev...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I once saw a writer friend gripe on Twitter about a Goodreads review that bragged about finishing their book in "under an hour" or somesuch, and ever since then, I have felt like I am personally demeaning a writer's years of hard work by snarfing the finished product in a weekend. So I've made up some mythical Someday in my head where I can / will re-read books I once binged more slowly, in paperback (July 2020! I put an alert in my calendar!), underlining the fuck outta passages like this: "On I once saw a writer friend gripe on Twitter about a Goodreads review that bragged about finishing their book in "under an hour" or somesuch, and ever since then, I have felt like I am personally demeaning a writer's years of hard work by snarfing the finished product in a weekend. So I've made up some mythical Someday in my head where I can / will re-read books I once binged more slowly, in paperback (July 2020! I put an alert in my calendar!), underlining the fuck outta passages like this: "On the subway home that evening, the clatter of the city surrounded me. Somewhere out in the wide world, innocent people sat in prison cells and immigration lawyers stayed up late, poring over paperwork. In Hollywood, a television executive plotted the return of Court TV. On an online forum, a woman argued that the satanist conspiracy had been real all along, that it had infiltrated the highest echelons of political power, that immediate action needed to be taken to protect the innocent children of America. Someone else watched a documentary about a miscarriage of justice and briefly forgot the injustices in her own life. And deep under the city I sat and let myself be overwhelmed by all the work that remained to be done." I loved this book, a perfect blend of reportage and criticism and memoir / personal essay that actually told me something I didn't know about true crime (the small-world Tate family / Lisa Statman saga, the nauseating reality of Tumblr Columbiners who fangirl school shooters). I'm not a murderino and I had no idea Oxygen had gone All Crime All the Time, but I find myself bored when the "itchiness" for something shocking comes over me (I am never more disappointed when whatever new true crime Netflix documentary isn't depraved enough). Monroe explores the complications of the entertainment of violence and crime--I spent the whole day reading it because I've spent so much of my life asking the same questions. Extra points for the Baltimore connection of Frances Lee's Nutshell Studies which made me realize OH MY GOD FREEMAN IN THE WIRE MAKES MINIATURES that's totally an easter egg for nerdy murder pervs like me THAT IS SO COOL.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Canaves

    Exploration Of True Crime (TW basically everything) I have so many thoughts on this book I could write an entire review for each of the four sections. It starts and ends with the author attending a true crime con. In between it focuses on one fascinating woman and three cold cases which are looked at from a different angle then just the actual case–women’s obsession is the “thesis” for the book. First, we learn about Frances Glessner Lee who in the 1940s created true crime scene dioramas like dol Exploration Of True Crime (TW basically everything) I have so many thoughts on this book I could write an entire review for each of the four sections. It starts and ends with the author attending a true crime con. In between it focuses on one fascinating woman and three cold cases which are looked at from a different angle then just the actual case–women’s obsession is the “thesis” for the book. First, we learn about Frances Glessner Lee who in the 1940s created true crime scene dioramas like dollhouses and was very influential about creating what we know as forensics science today. I loved learning about her and think she should be widely known! I could have done without blips of the author’s harsh-ish judgement of Lee which seemed unwarranted, and even if warranted unnecessary. The second section is about a woman who burrowed her way into the Tate family and I only read half of it–I’ve been done with everything Manson related for a long time. The treatment for so long has upheld everything that is wrong with true crime, and while it completely makes sense it’s in this book, I just personally couldn’t. The third section was back to fascinating for me: It focuses on a N.Y. landscape architect who saw a documentary about a convicted child murderer (West Memphis Three) and sought him out, married him, then dedicated her life to proving his innocence. This was one of those (in)justice system stories that should have more focus and brought me back to why I’d picked up this book. And finally a young woman’s obsession, and pockets of the internet/social media, with Columbine and her own attempt at a mass shooting–which sadly could not be more timely. If you read true crime and don’t know these stories this book will most likely work really well for you. If you read true crime and are starting to branch out in exploring the genre’s issues this is also a good pickup. If you firmly sit in the camp that true crime is exploitative and all the genre’s issues need to be addressed this book will probably meet you 1/2 way but everything else you want said will be just out of reach. --from Book Riot's Unusual Suspects newsletter: https://link.bookriot.com/view/56a820...

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