202 Following

Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Currently reading

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ann J. Lane
Wizard and Glass
Stephen King, Dave McKean
River of Blue Fire
Tad Williams
Richard Ford
Progress: 36/420 pages

Chase Darkness With Me / Billy Jensen

Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders  - Billy Jensen

Have you ever wanted to solve a murder? Gather the clues the police overlooked? Put together the pieces? Identify the suspect?

Journalist Billy Jensen spent fifteen years investigating unsolved murders, fighting for the families of victims. Every story he wrote had one thing in common―they didn't have an ending. The killer was still out there.

But after the sudden death of a friend, crime writer and author of I'll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara, Billy became fed up. Following a dark night, he came up with a plan. A plan to investigate past the point when the cops had given up. A plan to solve the murders himself.

You'll ride shotgun as Billy identifies the Halloween Mask Murderer, finds a missing girl in the California Redwoods, and investigates the only other murder in New York City on 9/11. You'll hear intimate details of the hunts for two of the most terrifying serial killers in history: his friend Michelle McNamara's pursuit of the Golden State Killer and his own quest to find the murderer of the Allenstown Four. And Billy gives you the tools―and the rules―to help solve murders yourself.


3 to 3.5 stars??

I’m very conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I read it cover to cover as quickly as I could. On the other hand, there were a bunch of things that bothered me about it. The author was one of the people responsible for getting Michelle McNamara’s book I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer finished and ready for publication. And I appreciate that, because I loved that book. Jensen admits that he’s not the writer that McNamara was and I’d agree with him on that assessment.

Here’s one of my issues--he tries to keep so many balls in the air, juggling a variety of crimes, like some ADD true crime addict. I can’t help but speculate that he would do more conspicuous good if he’d limit himself a bit and concentrate on one or two cases at a time.

Another thing that bugs me: what his wife and family have to put up with, i.e. what seems like a lot of absence and neglect. They must be very forgiving people, because I don’t think I’d put up with it. I don’t think that this is someone to be taking life advice from, not if you value your relationships anyway.

There’s absolutely no doubt that there are a plethora of true crime podcasts, radio shows, and books in the market right now and that more and more people are attempting to make their mark by solving cold cases. What I truly did appreciate was the chapter on how to conduct yourself should you choose to follow in their footsteps. Advice to be professional, not using people’s names in public forums like Facebook and Twitter when they are leads or suspects, not doxxing your competitors, and in general being polite and staying as neutral as possible. If you are going to do this, do it the right way and don’t be an internet troll. Think carefully about it, as this isn’t just a hobby, it has the potential to ruin people’s lives if you come to the wrong conclusions.

Although I can’t say that I’m not intrigued by this phenomenon, I do recognize that I don’t have the obsessive nature required to do a good job of these tasks. I think I will stick to family genealogy research and leave crime to those better suited to that pursuit.

In the meanwhile, I’m enjoying the modern take on the true crime book. If you enjoyed this book, I would highly recommend I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer and True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray.