Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Happy Face Killer (True Crime) by Jack Olsen


Paperback:  In February 1990, police arrested John Sosnovske and Laverne Pavlinac for the vicious rape and murder of 23-year-old Taunja Bennett.  Pavlinac had come forth and confessed, implicating her boyfriend and producing physical evidence that linked them to the crime.  Authorities closed the case.  There was just one problem.  They were not the killers.  They were innocent.  The police had the wrong people.

Keith Hunter Jesperson was a long haul truck driver and the murderer of eight women, including Taunja Bennett.  He began a twisted one-man campaign to win the release of Sosnovske and Pavlinac.

To the editors of newspapers and on the walls of bus stops, Jesperson scribbled out a series of taunting confessions.  At the end of each, he drew a happy face, earning for himself the grisly nickname 'The Happy Face Killer'.

Based on access to interviews, diaries, court records, and the criminal himself, this is Jesperson's horrific, repelling and chilling story.  It chronicles his evolution from angry child to sociopathic murderer, from tormentor of animals to torturer of women.  Jack Olsen lets the killer tell his story in his own words, offering unprecedented insight into the twisted thought process of a self-admitted serial/degenerate murderer.

The Happy Face Killer started three consecutive life (without parole) sentences in 1996 as inmate number 11620304 at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.  He would become eligible for parole on 1 March 2063, a month before his 108th birthday.  He never explained why he had allowed Sosnovske and Pavlinac to serve four years for his crimes.

In 2001, Keith Hunter Jesperson wrote to a friend:  Ever since I was arrested in Arizona in 1995, I've been denying responsibility for what I did.  I blamed everybody else.  Now I'm beginning to realize I had choices, and I chose wrong.  Me: not others.  I guess I'm where I belong.

The Happy Face Killer aka "I":  The Creation of Serial Killer was first published in 2002 and is one of the most significant piece of crime reporting ever published.

About the author:  Jack Olsen (1925-2002) is the author of thirty-three books published in fifteen countries and eleven languages, including the highly acclaimed Predator:  Rape, Madness and Injustice in Seattle (1991) which won the American Mystery Award for Best True Crime and his most notable work, "Son":  A Psychopath and His Victims (1983), which won a Special Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America.  Most of Olsen's books investigated the life histories of violent career criminals including studies of serial rapists.

A former bureau chief for Time, Olsen has won the National Headliners Award, citations for excellence from Indiana and Columbia universities, the Washington State Governor's Award, the Scripps-Howard Award, among others, and was listed in Who's Who in America since 1968 and in Who's Who in the World since 1967.  He was named to the Mystery Writers of America's fact-crime committee in 1996 and appointed chair in 1997.

The Philadelphia Inquirer described him as "an American treasure", the Washington Post described him as "the dean of true crime authors" and the New York Daily News lauded him as "the master of true crime".  His studies of crime are required reading in university criminology courses and have been cited  in the New York Times Notable Books of the Year.  In a page-one review, the Times described his work as "a genuine contribution to criminology and journalism alike".

A nationally respected expert on the psychology of criminals, Olsen appeared on Good Morning America, Sally Jessy Raphael, Donahue, Geraldo, Larry King Live, and other network interview shows.  He was the father of eight, a native of Philadelphia, a fishing fanatic and lived on an island in Puget Sound, Washington, where he passed away at the age of seventy-seven on 16 July 2002.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Evil Beside Her (True Crime) by Kathryn Casey


Evil Beside Her formerly The Rapist's Wife (1995) is a journalistic account of the 1992 investigation and conviction of James Edward Bergstrom on five counts of rape in Houston, Texas, as well as the true story of a Texas woman's marriage to a dangerous psychopath.

Paperback:  At first, Linda Bergstrom's marriage to her husband James was idyllic.  They were young and in love;  he was about to enter the Navy and she was eager to start a family.  But it wasn't long before the dream exploded.

James became abusive and violent, prone to sudden bursts of anger, long silences, and unexplained disappearances.  But Linda vowed to hold on, despite the pain and fear, and her disturbing suspicions about her husband's secret life.

Then, not long after their move to Houston, Texas, she made a terrifying discovery:  James's hidden cache containing duct tape, a ski mask, and handcuffs.  No longer could Linda Bergstrom deny the hideous truth, that the man she lived with, the man she married for love and had a daughter with, was a dangerous psychopath.

And there was no escape and nowhere to run.  Because no one - not her friends, the Navy, or the police - would believe her.

About the author:  Kathryn Casey is an award-winning journalist and author, who has written for Rolling StoneTV GuideReader's DigestTexas Monthly and many other publications.  She's the author of six previous true crime books - writing about real cases, real people and real murders - and the creator of the highly acclaimed Sarah Armstrong mystery series.  Casey has appeared on OprahOprah Winfrey's OxygenBiographyNancy Grace, E!, truTV, Investigation Discovery, the Travel Channel, and A&E.  Casey is based in Houston, where she lives with her husband and their dog, Nelson.

Updates:  At his trial in 1992, James Bergstrom was charged with burglary and was given a ten-year sentence in the Texas prison system.  He was also charged with four counts of aggravated sexual assault and given four ninety-nine year sentences by the jury.  So far, James Bergstrom was denied parole twice, in 2007 and 2010.  His latest parole date was last month, June 2013, and the outcome is a positive one - his parole has been denied again.  However, he will become eligible for parole in three years' time and every three years from that point on.  

According to Kathryn Casey (the author), James Bergstrom is a danger to society, especially women.  If released, he will, without a doubt, victimize more women.  In the two years he lived in Houston, he attacked thirty-five women, raping five of them, and threatened to kill the last victim, a high school cheerleader.  We will have to be vigilant and continue the fight to keep James Bergstrom behind bars.

You don't have to be a Texan to file a protest.  All you have to do is write a letter or send an email saying you believe James Bergstrom should not be set free on parole, that he continues to be a danger to society, and that he deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison.  In your letter, please include the following information:

Name:  James Edward Bergstrom

TDCJ Number:  00659297

SID Number:  04408281

Birth Date:  4 June 1963

Your protest can be submitted via email to victim.svc@tdcj.state.tx.us

Or fax it to 512-452-0825

Or snail mail to TDCJ Victims Services, 8712 Shoal Creek Boulevard, Suite 265, Austin, TX 78757

Thank you.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Predator: Rape, Madness and Injustice in Seattle (True Crime) by Jack Olsen


Predator (1991) by the late Jack Olsen is a true story about serial rapist Edward Lee King, but in his book, Olsen used the fictitious name "McDonald J Smith" for the predator.  The explanation he gave for the alias was that it was "in the interests of a larger truth."

Paperback:  The rapist had no conscience and no pity.  But Seattle had no justice.  Psychopath Mac Smith had been hunting women in a blue car.

Steve Titus was building a fine career and planning his wedding.  He, too, drove a blue car.

When the police arrested him, Steve Titus thought it was a joke or a terrible mistake.  He was wrong.  It was a nightmare.

Jack Olsen re-creates the gripping story of an innocent man destroyed by a legal system bent on vengeance and a courageous reporter, Paul Henderson III, who finally did what no one else would do:  catch the real criminal - a cruelly indifferent, twisted predator who preyed on the innocent and nearly got away with his vicious crimes.

On 17 April 1986, at McDonald Smith's probation hearing, after serving out a three-year Sex Offender Program at Western State Hospital in Washington, Judge Gerard M Shellan said, "Having reviewed all the files in this case, I do not believe that Mr Smith will ever comprehend, even in his wildest dreams or during his most reflective moments, the damage, the harm, the hurt, the trauma, humiliation, and the scars that have been permanently inflicted on all of these victims over these years, including the person who was also unjustly accused and tried for a crime Mr Smith had committed.  To have committed that, in the Court's opinion, probably is the greatest mortal sin that any person can commit."

He reminded the defendant that he was lucky he'd been tried for his crimes in an enlightened society instead of one "which undoubtedly would probably order execution or castration of a person who committed fifty or fifty-five rapes."  At last, Judge Shellan declared, "Probation, therefore, is revoked and the defendant is committed to the penitentiary."

Today, Edward Lee King remains incarcerated at the Airway Heights Correction Center near Spokane, Washington, serving out his forty-year sentence.  The end of this book listed his release date as 2006 but for unknown reasons, his possible date for release is now 2042.  He will be eighty-nine years old if he is still alive then.

About the author:  Jack Olsen (1925-2002) is the author of thirty-three books published in fifteen countries and eleven languages, including the highly acclaimed Predator:  Rape, Madness and Injustice in Seattle (1991) which won the American Mystery Award for Best True Crime and his most notable work, "Son":  A Psychopath and His Victims (1983), which won a Special Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America.  Most of Olsen's books investigated the life histories of violent career criminals including studies of serial rapists.

A former bureau chief for Time, Olsen has won the National Headliners Award, citations for excellence from Indiana and Columbia universities, the Washington State Governor's Award, the Scripps-Howard Award, among others, and was listed in Who's Who in America since 1968 and in Who's Who in the World since 1967.  He was named to the Mystery Writers of America's fact-crime committee in 1996 and appointed chair in 1997.

The Philadelphia Inquirer described him as "an American treasure", the Washington Post described him as "the dean of true crime authors" and the New York Daily News lauded him as "the master of true crime".  His studies of crime are required reading in university criminology courses and have been cited  in the New York Times Notable Books of the Year.  In a page-one review, the Times described his work as "a genuine contribution to criminology and journalism alike".

A nationally respected expert on the psychology of criminals, Olsen appeared on Good Morning America, Sally Jessy Raphael, Donahue, Geraldo, Larry King Live, and other network interview shows.  He was the father of eight, a native of Philadelphia, a fishing fanatic and lived on an island in Puget Sound, Washington, where he passed away at the age of seventy-seven on 16 July 2002.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Free Fire by (The Joe Pickett Novels) C J Box


Deftly plotted and full of intrigue, Free Fire (2007) is the seventh book in the A-list Joe Pickett series set in Wyoming.

From C J Box's website:  Joe Pickett, recently fired from his job as a Wyoming game warden, is working on his father-in-law's ranch when he receives a visit from the governor.  Governor Rulon - a devious but down-home politico - has a special request, one Joe knows he can't refuse.  For weeks, the headlines have been abuzz with the story of Clay McCann, a lawyer who slaughtered four campers in a far-off corner of Yellowstone National Park.

After the murders, McCann immediately turned himself in at the nearest ranger station.  Seemed like a slam-dunk case for law enforcement - except that the crimes were committed in a thin sliver of land with zero residents and overlapping jurisdiction, the so called free-fire zone.  McCann has taken advantage of an obscure loophole in the law:  neither state nor the federal government can try him for his crime.  The worst mass murderer in Wyoming history walks out of jail a free man.

Governor Rulon, sensitive to the rising tide of public outrage, wants his own investigation into the murders and will reinstate Joe as a game warden if he will go to Yellowstone "without portfolio" to investigate.  Joe, happy to get his badge back, even under these circumstances, agrees.

It quickly becomes clear to Joe that McCann is deeply involved in some illegal activity taking place in the park - something tremendously lucrative and unusually dangerous.  As Joe and his partner Nate Romanowski search for the key to the murders, they discover that it may be hidden in the rugged terrain of the park itself.

About the author:  C J Box is the winner of the Anthony Award, Prix Calibre 38 (France), the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, the Barry Award and the Edgar Award and is also an Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist.  His novels are US bestsellers and have been translated into 21 languages.  Box lives with his family outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Visit his website at www.cjbox.net

Rating:  5/5

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Stranger Beside Me (True Crime - revised and udpated edition, 2013) by Ann Rule


Excerpts from the Preface by Ann Rule, 29 January 1980: 

This book began in 1974 as an entirely different work.  It was to have been a crime reporter's chronicling of a series of inexplicable murders of beautiful young women.  By its very nature, it was to have been detached, the result of extensive research.  My life, certainly, would be no part of it.  It has evolved instead into an intensely personal book, the story of a unique friendship that has somehow transcended the facts that my research produced.  As the years passed, I learned that the stranger at the very vortex of an ever-spreading police probe was not a stranger at all;  he was my friend.

...My contract to write this book was signed many months before Ted Bundy became the prime suspect in more than a dozen homicide cases.  My book would not be about a faceless name in a newspaper, about one unknown out of the over one million people who live in the Seattle area;  it would be about my friend, Ted Bundy.

...And so Ted Bundy was my friend, through all the good times and the bad times.  I stuck by him for many years, hoping that none of the innuendo was true.  There are few who will understand my decision.  I'm sure that it will anger many.  And, with it all, Ted Bundy's story must be told, and it must be told in its entirety if any good can evolve from the terrible years:  1974-1980.

...Ted has been described as the perfect son, the perfect student, the Boy Scout grown to adulthood, a genius, as handsome as a movie idol, a bright light in the future of the Republican Party, a sensitive psychiatric social worker, a budding lawyer, a trusted friend, a young man for whom the future could surely hold only success.

He is all of these things, and none of them.

Ted Bundy fits no pattern at all;  you could not look at his record and say:  "See, it was inevitable that he would turn out like this."  

In fact, it was incomprehensible.

On 24 January 1989, Ted Bundy was executed for the murders of three young women;  he also confessed to taking the lives of at least thirty-five more women from coast to coast.  This is his story - the story of his magnetic power, his unholy compulsion, his demonic double life and his string of helpless victims.  It was written by a woman who thought she knew Ted Bundy, until she began to put all the evidence together, and the whole terrifying picture emerged.

About the author:  Ann Rule is a former Seattle policewoman and the author of over thirty-three bestselling books, including If You Really Loved Me (1991), Everything She Ever Wanted (1993), Dead By Sunset (1995), A Rose For Her Grave (1993), You Belong To Me (1994), A Fever In The Heart (1996), In The Name Of Love (1998), The End Of The Dream (1998), A Rage To Kill (1999), and Empty Promises (1999), as well as 1400 articles, mostly on criminal cases.  She is regarded by many as the foremost true crime writer in America and the author responsible for the genre as it exists today.  She has been a full-time writer since 1969.  When she is not attending trials and researching new books, Ann Rule lives near Seattle, Washington.  More information and updates can be found on her website.  The Stranger Beside Me was first published in 1980.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

"Doc": The Rape of the Town of Lovell (True Crime) by Jack Olsen


Paperback:  The offenses dated from 1967 to 1983 and the victims' ages ranged from fifteen to sixty-eight.

For twenty-five years since he established his medical practice 1958, the trusted family doctor in a small Wyoming town - Lovell - had been raping and molesting the women and children who most relied on him.

Mostly Mormons, the naive victims sometimes realized only on their wedding nights the truth about what had happened in Dr Story's office.

In riveting detail, veteran crime writer Jack Olsen tells the searing story of a small group of courageous women who decided to bring the doctor to justice and unearthed a legacy of pain and anger that would divide their families, their neighbours and an entire town.

About the author:  Jack Olsen (1925-2002) is the author of thirty-three books published in fifteen countries and eleven languages, including the highly acclaimed Predator:  Rape, Madness and Injustice in Seattle (1991) which won the American Mystery Award for Best True Crime and his most notable work, "Son":  A Psychopath and His Victims (1983), which won a Special Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America.  Most of Olsen's books investigated the life histories of violent career criminals including studies of serial rapists.

A former bureau chief for Time, Olsen has won the National Headliners Award, citations for excellence from Indiana and Columbia universities, the Washington State Governor's Award, the Scripps-Howard Award, among others, and was listed in Who's Who in America since 1968 and in Who's Who in the World since 1967.  He was named to the Mystery Writers of America's fact-crime committee in 1996 and appointed chair in 1997.

The Philadelphia Inquirer described him as "an American treasure", the Washington Post described him as "the dean of true crime authors" and the New York Daily News lauded him as "the master of true crime".  His studies of crime are required reading in university criminology courses and have been cited  in the New York Times Notable Books of the Year.  In a page-one review, the Times described his work as "a genuine contribution to criminology and journalism alike".

A nationally respected expert on the psychology of criminals, Olsen appeared on Good Morning America, Sally Jessy Raphael, Donahue, Geraldo, Larry King Live, and other network interview shows.  He was the father of eight, a native of Philadelphia, a fishing fanatic and lived on an island in Puget Sound, Washington, where he passed away at the age of seventy-seven on 16 July 2002.

 "Doc":  The Rape of the Town of Lovell (1989) was awarded the 1991 Edgar for Best Fact Crime.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

To Have And To Kill (True Crime) by John Glatt


Paperback:  To Have And To Kill (2004) is the true story of a marriage that turned deadly.

William and his loving wife, a registered nurse named Melanie, had just closed on their half-a-million-dollar New Jersey dream home.  Little did William know about the nightmare that was in store for him.

For Melanie had been involved in a long-term affair with a married doctor at the fertility clinic where she worked - and she had plans for the future that didn't include William.

Investigators believe that on 29 April 2004, Melanie first drugged her husband, then murdered him in cold blood.

One by one, three waterlogged designer suitcases were pulled from the Chesapeake Bay.  In each were body parts of a man.  In a forensics room, the truth was discovered:  William McGuire had been horribly murdered and dismembered.

A murder investigation was launched.

On 2 June 2005, Melanie was arrested and was charged with first-degree murder.

Her trial commenced in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on 5 March 2007 and lasted seven weeks.

On 23 April 2007, three years after America witnessed the details of the suitcase incident unfold - on 48 Hours, Dateline NBC, and ABC Primetime, and in People magazine, among other news outlets - Melanie was convicted of first-degree murder, third-degree perjury, second-degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and desecrating William McGuire's human remains.

"The depravity of this murder simply shocks the conscience of this court," Middlesex Superior Court Judge Frederick De Vesa declared.  "One who callously destroys a family to accomplish her own selfish ends must face the most severe consequences that the law can provide...In this case, the crime was so heinous, so cruel and so depraved, that the court finds that the maximum sentence should be imposed."  

She was sentenced to life imprisonment plus fifteen years for the other charges.

She must serve more than sixty-three years before she is eligible for parole under New Jersey law, when she will be one-hundred-and-one years old.  At present, she is incarcerated at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, New Jersey.

On 20 September 2011, the New Jersey Supreme Court declined to hear her further appeal.

About the author:  English-born John Glatt is the author of nineteen true crime books and four biographies, and has over thirty years of experience as an investigative journalist in England and America.  He wrote his first true crime book in 1998 entitled For I Have Sinned: True Stories of Clergy Who Kill.  With more than one million books currently in print all over the world, Glatt is acknowledged to be one of the best true crime writers working today.  He and his wife divide their time between New York, the Catskill Mountains and London.  His latest publication is The Prince of Paradise (2013), a true story of a hotel heir, his seductive wife and a ruthless murder.

This is a Crime and Investigation Network documentary of nurse Melanie McGuire and her deadly plot:



Rating:  5/5

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Split Second by David Baldacci


David Baldacci is such a good storyteller.  Split Second is highly addictive and comes highly recommended.

Paperback:  When something distracts secret agent Sean King for a split second, it costs him his career and presidential candidate, Clyde Ritter, his life.  But what stole his attention?  And why was Ritter shot?

Eight years later, Michelle Maxwell is on the fast track through the ranks of the Secret Service when her career is stopped short:  presidential candidate John Bruno is abducted from a funeral home while under her protection.

The similarity between the two cases drives Michelle to re-open investigations into the Ritter fiasco and join forces with ex-agent King.  The pair are determined to get to the bottom of what happened in those critical moments.

Meanwhile, high-ranking members of the legal system and key witnesses from both cases are going missing.  King is losing friends, colleagues and clients fast and his ex-lover, Joan Dillinger, is playing curious games - she wants Sean back, but she also owes him for something.

About the author:  David Baldacci is a worldwide bestselling novelist.  With his books published in over 45 different languages and in more than eighty countries, and with over 110 million copies in print, he is one of the world's favourite storytellers.  David is also the co-founder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a non-profit organization, dedicated to eliminating illiteracy across America.  Still a resident of his native Virginia, he invites you to visit his official website, his Wish You Well Foundation, and to look into its programme to spread books across America.

Split Second (2003) is the first book in the former Secret Service agents King and Maxwell series, which is now a TNT television series:



Rating:  5/5

The Simpsons: Homer and Lisa on Books


Summertime