Friday, 27 February 2015

Live Long And Prosper (1931-2015)

Gomorrah: Italy's Other Mafia (Non-Fiction) by Roberto Saviano

Hardback:  The tension creates a kind of screen between people.  In war you can't let your gaze be distracted.  Every face, every single face, has to tell you something.  You need to decipher it, fix it with your eyes.  Silently.  You have to know which shop to enter, be certain of every word you utter.  Before you decide to go for a walk with someone, you need to know who he is.  You have to be more than certain, eliminate every possibility he's a pawn on the chessboard of the conflict.  

To stroll next to him and speak to him means to share the field.  In war the attention threshold of all the senses is multiplied;  it's as if you perceive things more acutely, see into things more deeply, smell things more intensely.  Even though all such cunning is for naught when the decision is made to kill.  When they strike, they don't worry about whom to save and whom to condemn.  

The Camorra war is full of uncertainty.  Nothing is defined, nothing is clear.  Things become real only when they happen.  In the dynamics of power, of absolute power, nothing exists other than what is concrete.  And so fleeing, staying, escaping and informing are choices that seem too suspended, too uncertain, and every piece of advice always finds its opposite twin.  Only a concrete occurrence can make you decide.  But when it happens, all you can do is accept the decision.

In the spring of 2006, what began as a reporter's investigation of Neapolitan organized crime made international news headlines.  At great personal risk, the vigilante journalist, Roberto Saviano compiled the most thorough account to date of the Camorra and its chillingly significant role in the global economy.  The result, a groundbreaking and utterly compelling book, was a major bestseller in Italy, and Saviano was granted police protection after his life was threatened by the organization, which had hitherto operated in relative obscurity.

Known by insiders as 'the System', the Camorra has an international reach and large stakes in construction, high fashion, illicit drugs and toxic-waste disposal.  It exerts a malign grip on cities and villages along the Neapolitan coast and is the deciding factor in why Campania has the highest murder rate in all of Europe and why cancer levels there have skyrocketed in recent years.

Saviano tells of huge cargoes of Chinese goods that are shipped to Naples and then quickly distributed unchecked across Europe.  He investigates the Camorra's control of thousands of Chinese factories contracted to manufacture fashion goods, legally and illegally, for distribution around the world, and relates the chilling details of how the abusive handling of toxic waste is causing devastating pollution not only for Naples but also China and Somalia.

In pursuit of his subject, Saviano worked as an assistant at a Chinese textile manufacturer, a waiter at a Camorra wedding and on a construction site.  A native of the region, he recalls seeing his first murder at the age of fourteen, and how his own father, a doctor, suffered a brutal beating for trying to aid an eighteen-year-old victim who had been left for dead in the street.

Gomorrah is a bold and engrossing piece of investigative writing and one heroic young man's impassioned story of a place under the rule of a murderous organization.  It is translated from the Italian into the English by Virginia Jewiss.

About the author:  Roberto Saviano is an Italian writer and journalist.  In his writings, articles, television programs, and books he employs prose and news-reporting style to narrate the story of the Camorra (a powerful Neapolitan mafia-like organization), exposing its territory and business connections.

Since 2006, following the publication of his bestselling book Gomorrah (Gomorra in Italian), where he describes the clandestine particulars of the Camorra business, Saviano has been threatened by several Neapolitan "godfathers".  The Italian Minister of the Interior has granted him a permanent police escort.  Because of his courageous stance, he is considered a "national hero" by author-philosopher Umberto Eco.  He lives at a secret location to avoid reprisal attacks.

On 20 October 2008, six Nobel Prize-awarded authors and intellectuals (Orhan Pamuk, Dario Fo, Rita Levi-Montalcini, Desmond Tutu, Günter Grass, and Mikhail Gorbachev) published an article in which they say that they side with Saviano against Camorra, and they think that Camorra is not just a problem of security and public order, but also a democratic one.

On 10 December 2009, in the presence of Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo, Saviano received the title of Honorary Member of the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera and the Second Level Academic Diploma in Communication and Art Teaching Honoris Causa, the highest recognition by the Brera Academy equivalent to a postgraduate degree.  Saviano dedicated the awards to the people from the south of Italy living in Milan.

On November 2010 he started hosting, with Fabio Fazio, the Italian television program "Vieni via con me", broadcast by Rai 3.

His second book, ZeroZeroZero, was published by Feltrinelli in 2013.  This book is a study of the business around the drug cocaine, covering its movement across continents and the role of drug money in international finance.  He was awarded the 2011 PEN/Pinter Prize and the 2011 Olof Palme Prize.  (Wikipedia)

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

My Enemy

Victor Frankl (1905-1997), the Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, was treated in the most inhumane way conceivable by his thuggish and ill-educated Nazi captors.

Imprisoned for being a Jew in the dreaded concentration camp Auschwitz, he was stripped of every last vestige of personal dignity.

The guards would often beat him and strip him naked;  they would delight in forcing him to serve them their meals naked and on his knees whilst all the time taunting and goading him.

Such treatment would have destroyed the strongest of men but he survived the Holocaust.

Frankl knew that if he succumbed to the anger and hatred boiling up inside him, it would destroy him.

So he refused to hate by an act of his will.

He simply chose to excuse his captors' behaviour, to try to understand it and to replace anger with pity and compassion.

He had determined that 'The one thing you can't take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me.  The last of one's freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given circumstance.'

Well, let's get real:  if a man subjected to such terrible treatment at the hand of his enemies was able to forgive them, shouldn't we also be able to?

The amazing thing about Victor Frankl is that he didn't have the gift of faith.

He wanted to believe in God but his experience in the concentration camp had destroyed his faith.

Nevertheless, he reached down deep into his humanity and discovered within the law of love, and - though he would not have recognized it as such - through God's power, for surely it was, he was able to do the impossible and love his enemy.

G K Chesterton famously said, 'It isn't that Christianity has been tried and been found wanting;  it just hasn't been tried.'

In this area of loving our enemies, most of us are found wanting.

If we truly loved our enemies, we would transform the world, starting with ourselves, and not expect only those who torment us or oppress us or make our lives difficult to do it, but beginning with ourselves.

Real Books In The Lavatory Urgently Needed

(Seen at the Zizzi Restaurant, UK)

Monday, 23 February 2015

Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Hardback:  America's greatest storyteller brings us a new masterpiece of legal courage and gripping suspense and his finest heroine since The Pelican Brief.

The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building.

Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates.

She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about.

Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help poor folk with real problems.”

For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town.

She learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbours some big secrets.

This is coal country.  Meth country.  The law is different here.

Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal.

Standing up for the truth means putting your life on the line.

Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.

About the author:  John Grisham is the author of twenty-seven novels, one work of non-fiction, a collection of stories and four novels for young readers.  His works are translated into forty-two languages.  He lives in Virginia.  Find out more by clicking his name and stay in touch via Facebook at John Grisham Books.

Rating:  6/5

Friday, 20 February 2015

The Society Murders: The True Story of the Wales-King Murders by Hilary Bonney

Paperback:  In April 2002, wealthy Melbourne socialite Margaret Wales-King and her husband Paul King dined with family and then disappeared into thin air.

Twenty-five days later, after an investigation that dominated the headlines, their bludgeoned bodies were found in a shallow bush grave.

The family's grief was on full public display as speculation raged and rumours about drugs, gambling and financial strife did the rounds.

Then Margaret's youngest son, Matthew, was arrested for the murders and his wife, Maritza, was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

In his confession, Matthew was adamant that he was not after the money.

He felt totally disempowered by his mother and believed he had no choice but to commit one of the most uncommon and unsettling of crimes - matricide.

Each development in this case swamped the press.

Was it their wealth?  Or morbid fascination with the enigmatic Maritza's role?  Or was it simply that nice men like Matthew aren't meant to kill their mothers?

Melbourne barrister Hilary Bonney has immersed herself in the world of the Wales-Kings, closely following the investigation, the subsequent legal processes and the surrounding media furore.

"Matthew's killings show that even in an 'ideal' family, it is possible for very unattractive characteristics - evil, hate, anger, murderous obsession and frustration - to ferment and erupt with devastating consequences."

Dr Catharine Lumby, Director of the Media and Communications Programme at Sydney University believed that "Matthew's deeds were riveting because they stripped away the public's denial of the level of anxiety, drama and trauma that exists in the nuclear family."

Most fascinating of all, she examines the psychology of a killer whose chilling act rocked a family, a class and a city to its very core.

About the author:  Hilary Bonney (LLB(Hons) 1988) is a barrister and crime writer who worked as a prosecuting solicitor for the Office of Public Prosecutions Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.  She was a story consultant and associate producer on the ABC's legal drama, Crownies (2011).  The Society Murders was published in 2003.  Her second true crime book is The Double Life of Herman Rockefeller (2012).

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

And Then She Killed Him (True Crime) by Robert Scott

Paperback:  Miriam Giles ran away to Colorado to bury her violent past but this seductive, charismatic widow had a dark side that could never stay buried.

After finding the 'sugar daddy' she was looking for in Alan Helmick, her new marriage seemed happy.

On 10 June 2008, two years after marrying their marriage, Alan met a gruesome fate.

Returning home from errands, Miriam found him lying in a pool of blood, bleeding from the back of his head, dead of a gunshot wound.

Miriam showed police a cryptic note warning her to 'run, run, run' but it was only a ruse to lead the police astray and toward a phantom killer.

But Miriam was no distraught housewife.

She was a master manipulator always able to stay one step ahead of her unwitting partner and the law until now, not excluding her own son.

According to the prosecuting attorney, Miriam always lied when it suited her.

In his closing arguments, the prosecuting attorney said that Miriam claimed that she was better off with Alan alive than dead.  What she hadn't mentioned was that she was entitled to a $25 000 insurance policy and at least $100 000 from the estate, if not more.  That was mandated by Colorado law no matter what a prenuptial agreement might say.

Her main motive for killing Alan was that he had found out that she was forging his checks and keeping vital business information from him.

On 7 December 2009, after a five-hour deliberation, she was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted murder of her sixty-four-year-old husband, Alan Helmick, and ten counts of forgery.

The prosecuting attorney told a reporter, "I don't think she's mentally ill.  I don't know what her issues are."

Alan's daughter agreed, stating, "The things she says are beyond my understanding."

Miriam, now fifty-eight years old (2015), was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 198 years in prison on 9 December 2009.  Judge Robison said about the sentence, "Whether it's (the 108 years) symbolic or not, I think it's necessary."

Her estimated discharged date is 31 December 2207.

She is currently being held in the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility and not eligible for parole.

And Then She Killed Him was published in 2012.

About the author:  Robert Scott was a New York Times best-selling American non-fiction author who wrote twenty true crime books.  He has had numerous articles published in national magazines.  He was a member of several writers' organizations and appeared on many television shows on Discovery ID, A&E, E! and Tru TV.

Robert Scott discovered that true-crime writing is incredibly interesting, as "You have to be part journalist, part detective and part analytical writer for the true crime market."  Robert's books detailed the lives of killers and victims, police detectives and FBI agents from California to Iowa, from the Canadian border to the Mexican border.  They depicted stories from a murderous male/female team in the High Sierras to a psychopathic killer on the mean streets of Los Angeles.  They also told the stories of victims, from an exotic dancer, to a beautiful but naive college girl, to a loving and vulnerable ranch wife.

"The lives of the victims, and the detectives who brought them justice, are vitally important in these stories," Robert said.  "I absolutely believe in a comment related to me by an Assistant United States Attorney, "'To the living we owe respect, to the dead we owe the truth.'"

 In 2007, Scott was awarded Best East Bay True-Crime Author by the East Bay Express newspaper.  His book Shattered Innocence - about kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard - was named a New York Times bestseller in October 2011.

Scott died at his home in Northern California on 9 January 2015.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Buried Memories: The Bloody Crimes and Execution of the Texas Black Widow (True Crime) by Irene Pence

Paperback:  Behind her softly sexy facade lurked a cold-blooded killer.

1985.  Gun Barrel City, Texas.

Police searching for missing Fire Department Captain Jimmy Don Beets dug inside a wishing well in the neatly-tended garden of his wife, 48-year-old Betty Lou.

Not only did they find his body, but that of Betty Lou's fourth husband, Doyle Wayne Barker.

Each had been shot in the head and buried in a sleeping bag.

It wasn't long before investigators uncovered the terrible truth.

As Betty Lou's sordid past as a topless dancer, cocktail waitress, and wife to five husbands emerged, so did her chilling trail of marital violence.

She had shot her second husband in the back.

She had tried to run over her third husband with a car.

Both survived to tell their horrific stories.

But Barker and Beets, spouses four and five, weren't so lucky.

After a sensational trial, Betty Lou Beets was sentenced to die by lethal injection.

Fifteen years later, on February 24, 2000, she again drew national attention by becoming the second woman to be executed in Texas - since the Civil War - after the reintroduction of the death penalty.

She did not request a final meal nor did she make a final statement.

At the time of the execution, she was sixty-two years old and had five children, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Buried Memories was published in 2001.

About the author:  Irene Jean Rorick Pence was born in Omaha, Nebraska.  She graduated from the University of Nebraska, with a BS in Business Administration and Arizona State University with an MA in Education.  She has also taken many creative writing courses from Southern Methodist University.

Irene is married and has three children.  She has won the Dallas Morning News' Golden Pen Award and is published in Business Education Journals.

The King's Deception by Steve Berry

Paperback:  There is a secret from our history - 500 years old - startling in its revelations - it started with a Queen's lie - and devastating in its political impact.

A secret that has, thankfully, stayed hidden.

Until now.

Former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone travels to England and finds himself caught up in a dark conspiracy born long ago, in the time of the Tudors.

The CIA and MI6 seem to be competing to uncover the mystery, but when his son disappears, Malone is forced into a race against time as he battles to decipher the puzzle.

With assassins, traitors, spies and dangerous disciples of a secret society closing in, Malone discovers that the solution to the mystery will not only draw him into a lethal trap but force him closer to his own troubling past.

The King's Deception (2013) is the eighth book in the Cotton Malone series.

The Patriot Threat, the next and tenth book in the Cotton Malone series, will be out on 9 April 2015!

About the author:  Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Patriot Threat, The Lincoln Myth, The King’s Deception, The Columbus Affair, The Jefferson Key, The Emperor’s Tomb, The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, The Alexandria Link, The Templar Legacy, The Third Secret, The Romanov Prophecy and The Amber Room.  His books have been translated into forty languages with nineteen million copies in fifty-one countries.  They consistently appear in the top echelon of The New York Times, USA Today and Indie bestseller lists.

History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel.  It’s his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009, Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners and their popular writers workshops. To date, over 2 500 students have attended those workshops.

In 2012 and 2013, Steve’s devotion to historic preservation was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve it’s spokesperson for National Preservation Week.  Among his other honors is the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award;  the 2013 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award given by Poets & Writers;  the 2013 Anne Frank Human Writes Award;  and the Silver Bullet, bestowed in 2013 by International Thriller Writers for his philanthropic work.  A 2010 NPR survey named The Templar Legacy one of the top 100 thrillers ever written.

Steve was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University.  He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years. He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers - a group of more than 2 600 thriller writers from around the world - and served three years as its co-president.

Rating:  5/5

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

Just Read More

Cheesy Pick Up Lines

The Anarchist Detective by Jason Webster

Hardback:  Sent on leave after his last brutal case, Detective Max Cámara returns to his home town in La Mancha.

There, the past keeps pulling at him.

The town is exhuming a mass grave from the Civil War but why is his grandfather behaving so strangely?

HIs old friend Yago is investigating a particularly nasty murder which sets off memories Max has been trying to bury for years.

And then there are Yago's whisperings about a saffron mafia.

Max finds himself plunged into the thick of a complex and intensely personal case that will put him in severe danger and have him questioning his past and his future in the police.

The Anarchist Detective (2013) is the third book in the gripping Chief Inspector Max Cámara series set in Spain.

The next and fifth book in the series - The One and the Two - will be available on 4 June 2015.

About the author:  Brought up in England, Jason Webster has lived for several years in Valencia, the setting of his Cámara novels.  The first of these, Or The Bull Kills You, was longlisted for the CWA Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards New Blood Dagger 2011.  He has appeared in several British TV documentaries including The Islamic History of Europe presented by Rageh Omaar on BBC Television and the critically acclaimed Andalusia:  The Legacy of the Moors for Five.  Do check out his website for more information.

Rating:  5/5

Children of the Revolution by Peter Robinson

Paperback:  Banks is back and he's thrown straight in at the deep end.

Ex-college lecturer Gavin Miller is found dead;  his distorted body strewn across a disused railway track near his home.

There's no sign of a struggle and no concrete evidence except for one distinguishing package:  $5 000 of cash, tucked inside the man's pocket.

But when DCI Banks delves into Miller's past, he uncovers a troubled existence tarnished by accusations of abuse and misconduct which throws up an array of puzzling questions.

What really occurred at the college where the victim used to teach?

How was he embroiled in political activism at Essex University over forty years ago?

What links him to an upstanding pillar of the community who also harbours a dark secret from her past?

One thing is clear:  someone will stop at nothing - even murder - to prevent Banks from discovering the truth.

Children of the Revolution (2013) is the superb tale of mystery and murder and the twenty-first book in the Inspector Banks series that takes acclaimed British Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks back to the early 1970s - a turbulent time of politics, change, and radical student activism.

The next book and the twenty-third book in the series - In the Dark Places - will be released on 11 August 2015.

About the author:  Peter Robinson is the author of the bestselling DCI Banks crime novels, now a major television series starring Stephen Tompkinson.  Check out his website to find out more.

Rating:  5/5

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Moaning Of Life: The Worldly Wisdom Of Karl Pilkington (non-fiction/comedy)

Paperback:  'Why are we here?'  The only time I ever asked meself that was on a surprise holiday to Lanzarote.

Left to his own device, Karl Pilkington would be happy with his life just as it is.

But now he's hit forty, everyone keeps asking him why he won't marry his girlfriend and why he doesn't want to have kids.

It's time for Karl to face up to the big question - what does it all mean?

Karl thought he'd seen it all filming An Idiot Abroad but now he's off around the globe to learn how other cultures deal with life's big issues.

Find out how Karl copes as he has plastic surgery in LA, models for a Japanese life drawing class, helps deliver a baby in Bali and more!

Have his experiences changed him?

Find out in the hilarious The Moaning of Life (2013).

About Karl Pilkington:  Karl Pilkington is an English radio and television personality, travel show presenter, actor, author and former radio producer.  He gained prominence as the producer of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's radio programme on XFM.  He appeared on The Ricky Gervais Show, presented the Sky travel series An Idiot Abroad and made his full acting debut (following a cameo appearance in the final episode of Extras) on Gervais' 2012 comedy-drama series Derek. Pilkington is a co-founder, along with Gervais and Merchant, of RiSK Productions, a television production company.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

A Slaying In The Suburbs: The Tara Grant Murder by Steve Miller and Andrea Billups

Paperback with excerpts from the Foreword:  The taking of a life prematurely is a painful and final gesture with widespread effects.

And yet people continue to commit murders, including the case of a suburban husband with no criminal history who, one cold winter night, strangled his attractive wife, chopping her body into fourteen pieces and burying it haphazardly in a snowy forest in a macabre act of deception.

The murder of Tara Grant drew some of the most intense public interest in Michigan history and the 2007 case will not soon be forgotten.

The Grant story is a gripping dark tale of loss and one in which there are no winners.

Everyone thought the Grant family was living the American dream.

Everyone was wrong.

That it occurred in an upscale town, in a nice home, in a seemingly loving and happy family, taking frequent vacations and hosting parties for their children - the truth of what went on behind closed doors we will never know - shakes observers to the core.

With Tara's every step up the corporate ladder, Stephen grew more resentful of her success in comparison to his own stay-at-home role and both husband and wife lashed out.

Their children were all that held them together until the night Stephen snapped, strangled and dismembered his wife, then disposed of her body, piece by piece, in the very park his children played in.

The victims continue to accumulate:  Tara's family and friends, who lost her love, support and companionship;  Stephen's relatives, who must bear the shame of a son and brother who will forever be known as one of the state's most brutal killers.  His father, Al Grant, committed suicide less than six months after his son's conviction.  Stephen's friends, shocked that their pal could suffer such a bizarre break from reality, were affected as well.

Most heartbreaking, two children have lost both parents, one to murder and one to prison, and must grow up with the knowledge that their father killed their mother, an act that will be difficult for family to explain and for them to ever understand.

A Slaying in the Suburbs (2009) is a frank and heartbreaking portrayal of murder, a dysfunctional marriage, the actions that destroyed a family and its painful legacy.

Stephen Grant was found guilty on count one of the charge of murder in the second degree in the same year he took his wife's life.  On count two, mutilation of a corpse, he received six to ten years.  The sentences, per Michigan law, would run concurrently.  In 2008, he was sentenced to a minimum of fifty years in prison (Bellamy Creek Correctional Center in Ionia, Michigan).  In 2010, Stephen lost his final appeal in state court, leaving intact the original sentence of fifty to eighty years.  Stephen would be eighty-eight in the year 2058 before he could apply for parole.

About the authors:  Steve Miller has been a reporter for the Dallas Morning News and the Washington Times.  He has also worked as a correspondent for People magazine and US News and World Report.  He lives in Lansing, Michigan.

Andrea Billups is a Midwest-based national reporter for the Washington Times.  She has worked as a staff correspondent at People magazine and reported for a number of national publications including Reader's Digest and Money magazine.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Deliver Us (True Crime) by Kathryn Casey

Paperback:  "Deliver us from evil."

Deliver Us (2015) is a journalistic account of the murders of young women around the I-45 corridor that runs south from Houston into Galveston between 1970 and 2000, an area loosely dubbed by the press as the I-45/Texas Killing Fields.  Three decades of loss and redemption all center on a fifty-mile section of Interstate 45.  

The events recounted in this book are true.  The personalities, events, actions and conversations in this book have been constructed using court documents including trial transcripts, extensive interviews, letters, personal papers, research and press accounts.  Quoted testimony has been taken from court transcripts and other sworn statements.  

Kathryn Casey wrote in the Prologue, "As I began writing this book, my goal was  simple:  to tell not all but some of the victims' stories along with those of the people who toiled to bring their killers to justice.  I hoped to share the trials of the families, those who never overcame their grief and others who used it to build a better world.  For even in the deepest despair, there were those who found inspiration and redemption.  At the same time, I wanted to give a voice to those suspected of the crimes, for they, too, had important stories to tell."  

"This book is divided into three sections organized by decades:  the seventies, eighties and nineties.  For the most part, the first two, the seventies and eighties, are organized chronologically.  In contrast, the nineties unfold in two distinct parts.  The first set of chapters explores the 1996 murder of Krystal Jean Baker, the investigation into her death and the trial of her killer.  The final chapters examine one of the Gulf Coast's most infamous case, the 1997 abduction and killing of little Laura Kate Smither."  

The victims were strangled, shot or savagely beaten.  Six met their demise in pairs.  They had one thing in common:  being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Suzanne Bowers, 12, left her grandparents' Galveston house on 21 May 1977, intending to walk home and get a swimsuit.  She never arrived.

Heide Villareal Fye, 25, waitress and bartender, left her parents' house to hitchhike to see her boyfriend on 7 October 1983.

Jessica Cain, 17, left a cast party after appearing in a play on 17 August 1997.

In this harrowing true crime expedition, award-winning journalist Kathryn Casey tracks these tragic cases, investigates the evidence, interviews the suspects and pulls back the cloak of secrecy in search of elusive answers.  

"The young girls in the newspaper pictures troubled me, seemed to ask for help, wanting their stories to be told...  I had to do something because the victims were real, they mattered and they deserved not to be forgotten...  In the end, if nothing else, I hope this book serves as light into the darkness."

About the author:  Kathryn Casey is an award-winning journalist who has written for Rolling Stone, TV Guide, Reader's Digest, Texas Monthly and many other publications.  She's the author of seven previous true crime books and the creator of the highly acclaimed Sarah Armstrong mystery series.  Casey has appeared on Oprah, Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen network, Biography, Nancy Grace, E! network, truTV, Investigation Discovery, the Travel Channel and A&E.  She lives in Houston with her husband and their dog, Nelson.  For more information, visit her website.