Tag Archives: true crime book

The Science of Serial Killers: The Truth Behind Ted Bundy, Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper, and Other Notorious Murderers of Cinematic Legend by Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Authors and podcast co-hosts Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence take readers on a twisted and horrifying journey into the inspirations and sciences behind the true monsters of some of Hollywood’s most iconic horror films in their book, “The Science of Serial Killers: The Truth Behind Ted Bundy, Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper, and Other Notorious Murderers of Cinematic Legend”.

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The Synopsis

Discover the real-life inspirations behind history’s most infamous serial killers: John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, and so many more.

Gothic media moguls Kelly Florence and Meg Hafdahl, authors of The Science of Monsters, The Science of Women in Horror, and The Science of Stephen King, and co-hosts of the Horror Rewind podcast called “the best horror film podcast out there” by Film Daddy, present a guide to the serial killers who inspired the movies and media we all know and love. Delve into the brutal truth behind horror’s secret: many monsters portrayed on the silver screen are based on true murderers. Uncover the truth behind the real monsters of horror, answering such questions as: 

What is the science behind serial killers’ motivations like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy? 

How did detectives discover the identities of criminals like the Boston Strangler and the BTK Strangler?

Has science made it possible to unmask Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer? 

What is the science behind female versus male serial killers? 

Through interviews, film analysis, and bone-chilling discoveries, join Kelly and Meg as they learn about the horrors of true crime through the decades. 

The Review

I absolutely loved this read. As someone who has been fascinated with true crime and in particular the psychology behind the few individual criminals who can be classified as “serial killers”, and as a big-time fan of horror films and books, I was instantly drawn to the authors and their work. The amount of detailed research and history each put into these killers and crimes, and yet were able to craft it into a concise and very readable book, was astounding to read. 

What really stood out though was the author’s work to identify the fascination and inspiration these true-life killers had on some of the most iconic horror films of our era. From Jack the Ripper’s inspiration for the film From Hell to the murders of the DeFeo family that inspired the Amityville Horror film series, both authors did such an amazing job of breaking down each film and project that these killers were responsible for and showcased how the intricate details of their crimes lead to some of cinema’s darkest and most memorable horror moments. 

The Verdict

Haunting, visceral, and engaging, authors Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence’s “The Science of Serial Killers: The Truth Behind Ted Bundy, Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper, and Other Notorious Murderers of Cinematic Legend” is must-read nonfiction read! The in-depth analysis of both film and true crime will have horror fans enthralled by the information the authors share. With the wide array of different criminals, from the prolific to the under-the-radar crimes that will absolutely shock you, this is one collection readers won’t want to miss. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

About Meg Hafdahl: 

Bram Stoker Award nominated Meg Hafdahl is the creator of numerous stories and books. Her fiction has appeared in anthologies such as Eve’s Requiem: Tales of Women, Mystery and Horror and Eclectically Criminal. Her work has been produced for audio by The Wicked Library and The Lift, and she is the author of three popular short story collections including Twisted Reveries: Thirteen Tales of the Macabre. Meg is also the author of the three novels; The Darkest Hunger, Daughters of Darkness, and Her Dark Inheritance called “an intricate tale of betrayal, murder, and small town intrigue” by Horror Addicts and “every bit as page turning as any King novel” by RW Magazine. Meg, also the co-host of the podcast Horror Rewind and co-author of The Science of Monsters, The Science of Women in Horror, The Science of Stephen King, The Science of Serial Killers, and the upcoming The Science of Witchcraft lives in the snowy bluffs of Minnesota. 

https://www.meghafdahl.com/

About Kelly Florence: 

Kelly Florence teaches communication at Lake Superior College in Duluth, MN and is the creator of the Be a Better Communicator podcast. She received her BA in theatre from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and her MA in communicating arts from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. She has directed, produced, choreographed and stage managed for dozens of productions in Minnesota including Carrie The Musical through Rubber Chicken Theatre and Treasure Island for Wise Fool Theater. She is passionate about female representation in all media and particularly the horror genre.

https://www.horrorrewind.com/

In For Life: A Journey Into Murder, Corruption, and Friendship by Elaine Alice Murphy Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The murder of a Boston Police Officer leads to the arrest and false conviction of murder against a young black man named Sean Ellis, and in this book author Elaine Alice Murphy goes on a journey to examine the 4 trials to attempt to exonerate Sean Ellis and show why he was wrongfully convicted in the book “In For Life: A Journey Into Murder, Corruption, and Friendship”. 

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The Synopsis

The case of Sean Ellis (covered by Netflix’s Trial Four) who was falsely accused and convicted of a murder he did not commit. In for Life follows the personal journey of journalist Elaine Alice Murphy as she fights to allow her friend Sean’s story to be heard and help him gain his freedom

The Review

A truly moving and engaging true-crime read, the author did an incredible job of balancing a narrative memoir writing style with descriptive prose that painted a vivid image of the case itself. The personal connection the author had with this case and the young man imprisoned falsely amplified the emotional connection readers had with Sean, and the way the author handled both the actual case and her own personal work in investigating and championing on behalf of Sean was both professional and passionate in her delivery.

The theme of racial prejudice in the justice system and our world as a whole was thoroughly explored in this nonfiction read. The story has had an even greater impact in recent years, with the level of violence between police officers and people of color increasing exponentially in the last decade and becoming much more public. Sean becomes a prime example of how the justice system has been created to work against people of color, especially young Black men, and the exploration of not only this grave injustice in the United States but the dramatic nature of the crime itself was enough to keep this reader on the edge of his seat, enthralled with each twist and turn in the case.

The Verdict

Beautifully written, heartfelt in its delivery, and thought-provoking both thematically and in the actual investigation, author Elaine Alice Murphy’s “In For Life” is a must-read true-crime thriller and nonfiction read. The vital importance of Sean’s case both personally for himself and the author and for the direction our nation as a whole has gone in over the last decade made this such an impactful read, and I highly recommend anyone wanting a better understanding of how both the justice system and society for young Black men in the United States to grab their own copy of this worthwhile book. Preorder your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Elaine Alice Murphy holds degrees from Boston College in English literature and Harvard University in human development. Her work on the Ellis case earned her a Senior Justice Fellowship at Brandeis University’s Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism.

Trial 4 | Official Trailer | Netflix – YouTube

Book: In for life — Justice for Sean Ellis

The Devil’s Agent: A Most Unusual Story of Crime and Punishment by Stephen Parkes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Stephen Parkes takes readers into one of the 18th century’s strangest executions to ever occur in the justice system in the short biography, “The Devil’s Agent”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

A short story of 18th-century crime and capital punishment. William Duell lives and dies and lives again.

The Review

In just a few pages, (23 pages total), the author brings readers one of the most vile criminals and one of the most fascinating trial and punishment phases within the 18th century. The author goes into detail regarding the crime and the long process inside prison, most notably death row, as well as the process a criminal goes through traveling from prison to the gallows for public executions. 

What makes this story so unique however is the way the story ends, which will have the reader in shock as they discover one of the strangest cases of capitol punishment gone wrong. It’s a vivid and informative short read, and packs quite a punch.

The Verdict

Overall this is a fantastic short story that fans of the true crime and biography genre will thoroughly enjoy. A story of the horrors inflicted by the worst of society, and the inescapable truth that sometimes things don’t always go according to plan, no matter how final they may seem. If you enjoy true crime stories then pick up your copy of The Devil’s Agent by Stephen Parkes today. 

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Stephen Parkes (1960 – ) was born in Detroit, Michigan. Stephen earned a Juris Doctorate from Mississippi College School of law and a Ranger tab from the U.S. Army. He is a former Weapons platoon leader with the 2d Ranger battalion. He is one of very few individuals to experience a long-drop hanging (in his case more than eight feet) and live to tell about it. He was twice convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon, a knife, and spent four and one-half years in federal prison and county lock-ups. Stephen was certified by the State of Florida as a habitual violent felony offender in 2008. These days, Stephen is an honorable man and husband. These days, Stephen lives free and prospers.

https://amzn.to/2V8Shkg

On A Cold Day In Hell: A Legal Thriller Like No Other by Stephen Parkes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Readers get a dark, heartbreaking and emotional roller coaster of a story as the man readers met in The Soldier faces a criminal trial for a crime he committed while in the throws of addiction, and in the process highlights some of our world’s most difficult and inescapable truths in author Stephen Parkes novel “On A Cold Day In Hell: A Legal Thriller Like No Other”. Here is the synopsis. 

The Synopsis

The stakes couldn’t be any higher. Stephen Parkes, a former Airborne Ranger and law school graduate, has been charged with a brutal crime. A career prosecutor has made him an offer of thirty years in return for a guilty plea. He has a hanging judge and his own public defender wants him to die in prison. The circumstances have never been grimmer.

So, he decides to take matters into his own hands. He drops more than eight feet into a noose. His heart stops beating. His lungs stop breathing. 

But, somehow, Stephen Parkes lives. 

Fresh off his own gallows, his problems are only beginning. Parkes is as guilty as sin. The case against him is perfect. Undeterred, Parkes fights back, hoping to be set free. The odds against him are impossible.

Set against a background of horrid child abuse, pitiful drug addiction, and brutal crimes, On A Cold Day In Hell provides a scathing indictment of the American judicial system, demonstrates the emptiness of mandatory minimum sentencing, and gives a first-hand look at the consequences of the unthinking cruelty payed out to a minor child at the hands of a Catholic priest. 

Part jailhouse lawyer, part convict and all human, Stephen Parkes stands his ground and makes his own case for freedom, which can only be found On A Cold Day In Hell.

The Review

This was a dark look into the troubled life of Stephen Parkes. Written both eloquently and with wit, the author brings readers into the harsh reality of his life, which many across the world can relate to. A history of abuse, drug addiction and mental health problems plague this man, which turns him to a life of crime. While readers will be able to see that the crimes themselves were inexcusable, the author’s first hand account and painful ordeal showcases a true injustice in our society. Rather than help those suffering with addiction or mental health, it is more common to just throw them in jail with no means of helping or changing their lives around for the better. It showcases a never ending system of violence, abuse and addiction both within and outside of the criminal justice system.

It was interesting to see the perspective of the man underneath the criminal persona given to him in life. A highly intelligent man with a knowledge of the law himself and a former Army Ranger, the hardships and mental strain of childhood trauma and the resulting mental health problems that arose showcase a man divided between himself and the addict that took over his life. It’s a story of fighting for the truth and finding ways to help those who suffer rather than punish and then throw away, forgotten and abandoned as they were in life.

The Verdict

This was a powerful read that any true crime, non fiction and criminal justice/mental health advocate would be interested in. With bits of humor, a use of imagery that really brings the cold reality of life in prison and the affects of abuse/addiction on anyone in this world, and a compelling story that also touches on the struggle with suicidial thoughts that often plague those who have lost all hope, and the need to help those going through that kind of pain. It’s an emotional and heart pounding read that you should check out for yourself, so be sure to read On A Cold Day In Hell: A Legal Thriller Like No Other” by Stephen Parkes today.

Rating: 10/10

The Soldier: An Airborne Ranger’s Fall From Grace by Stephen Parkes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Stephen Parkes takes readers on a grueling, personal journey through his training with the US Army Rangers and the affect it had on his life going forward in the novel, “The Soldier: An Airborne Ranger’s Fall From Grace”. Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

2LT Stephen Parkes is about to enroll in a soldier’s school. Between 1977 and 1995 its syllabus killed nine men. Graduation is anything but certain. He grabs his rifle and engages the most brutal fifty-six days of his young life; controlled starvation and sleep deprivation, a hundred pound rucksack and a five hundred mile walk. By parachute, helicopter or fast-moving jet, it’s a character defining journey through dense mountain forests and high desert plains, neck deep in salt water marshes and soaked to the bone in cold open seas. It’s July 1st 1986, welcome to Ranger school. 

On the other side of the world a cold war rages. Minefields, Morlocks and a long way from home, follow Lt. Parkes as he walks combat patrols inside the Korean demilitarized zone. The rules governing the Joint Security Area are clear, but Lt. Parkes has orders to follow. Join him as he breaks every United Nations regulation in the book and invades Panmunjom with a platoon of soldiers packing heavy weapons. From here, Parkes’ character flaws catch up and events grow complicated, grim and more dangerous. 

Recruited into the 75th Ranger regiment, 1LT Parkes arrives at Ft. Benning and learns everything there is to know about mortars, and lies. He gets honest and makes promises. He exits Jumpmaster school with a clean slate bound for the great Northwest and duty with the 2nd Ranger battalion and men of unparalleled principal. Meet Lieutenant Pete, a young officer of uncompromising bearing and unbreakable constitution, and Captain Mike, a soldier destined for greatness on the world’s stage, and LG, perhaps the most dedicated Ranger of all times. But here Parkes does not belong.

The promises he made are broken. His perception of self barely rises to worthless. He seeks that which he thinks he deserves … ugliness. Five years soldiering had seen hardship and risk, but no one had actually fired a weapon at him. All that’s about to change.

The Review

This was a truly gripping story to read. This memoir and true crime style novel focuses on the intense physical and mental toll training in the US Army Rangers can have on an individual. Not only will readers see through the author’s eyes how painful and difficult the journey can be, (from forcing trainees to strip any ranks they’ve earned from their military clothing, throwing mock grenades into cabins, etc), but readers will also see the great deal of mathematics, science and physicality that these officers in training must go through when preparing for their future missions and jumps from high altitudes. 

After leaving school behind, readers are taken to the harsh and tense area between North and South Korea, and the infamous DMZ. Seeing the author’s struggle through addiction while undergoing the grueling training was tough, but also getting to see through the author’s eyes the true nature of military life and the intensity of missions that they undertake was just as exhausting and emotionally driven as anything else. This is the perfect read to showcase the struggles and difficulties military training, and in particular Army Ranger training, can have on individuals and how it affects their lives after service. 

The Verdict

This is a must read novel. The author’s personal journey highlights this struggle in a powerful way. While a short read, hearing the author’s tale and getting a glimpse into the life an an Army Ranger was eye opening to say the least. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of “The Soldier” by Stephen Parkes today!

Rating: 10/10

Destroying Their God: How I Fought My Evil Half-Brother To Save My Children by Wallace Jeffs, Shauna Packer and Sherry Taylor Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

One man’s journey to escape a dangerous religious group he was born and raised in and the harrowing experience of trying to save his own children in the process comes to life in former FLDS member Wallace Jeff’s novel, Destroying Their God. The book, (written also by Shauna Packer and Sherry Taylor), shows the terrifying process of being indoctrinated into a harmful doomsday religion and how despite a lifetime of indoctrination he managed to escape the group, but not without both physical and emotional scars. Here’s the official synopsis:

In 1991, Wallace Jeffs was coerced to become an FLDS polygamist. 

In 2011, Wallace rebelled against the sect, and the FBI helped him reclaim his kidnapped children.

Then an “accident” put Wallace into a forty-five-day coma. 

Growing up as half-brother to future Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saint prophet Warren Jeffs, Wallace tried to follow FLDS teachings. After he built a successful business, the church required him to marry a second wife. Wallace fathered twenty children, but he never felt comfortable with polygamy or many other FLDS beliefs.

As his prophet-brother increasingly manipulated him, Wallace started hearing about FLDS atrocities. On the day the FBI arrested Warren Jeffs for child rape, the prophet was en route to reclaim Wallace’s second wife for himself. Wallace defied the prophet and soon ended up in a coma. Though Wallace feared FLDS sabotage caused his car crash, he kept fighting the sect.

With today’s movement against male abusers, Wallace’s story reminds us that power and position don’t corrupt all men. In 2018, Wallace found resolution by marrying an LDS woman in the Salt Lake Temple. At the same time, he renews our concern for the thousands who still live under FLDS control, including some of Wallace’s own children. 

This is one of the most tragic, heartbreaking yet important reads of 2018. This is the kind of story people can connect with on multiple levels. For me, I’ve always been angry about all of the innocent people who’s lives are destroyed by religious cults and curious how the indoctrination process claims so many lives. As a non-religious person, I was always curious how people could get so ingrained into a religion’s policies no matter how strange or ridiculous they seemed to the rest of the world. Thanks to the incredible bravery of Wallace Jeffs defying his brother and the church he spent a lifetime serving, the world at large can garner a far better understanding of indoctrination as a whole.

The book goes into incredible and tragic detail on the religion and it’s actions. From the strange laws that dictated their appearance and interactions with the rest of the world, to the inner workings of polygamy and the apocalyptic beliefs that drove people to do or allow unspeakable things to occur. The book also allows readers to get better insight into the behavior and mindset of the sick religious leader who is deemed “prophet” in this religion, and that’s Warren Jeffs. Wallace and this incredible writing team showcase the rise of this criminal, whom his brother describes as “the most evil person to walk the earth”. From his early years being groomed to be the religion’s poster boy, to his sick pleasures and the mind games he played with the followers, including his own brother.

Overall this was an amazing book to read. Definitely one of the best books of 2018, Wallace Jeffs, Shauna Packer and Sherry Taylor have brought to life an emotional, heartbreaking and yet vital tale of escaping a toxic environment. You also get to see how he learns how to integrate himself into society years later than most and the physical and emotional struggle of one father who’s love for his children gave him the strength to fight the only group he’d called family to save his kids. This is a must read book, so be sure to grab your copy in eBook, audiobook or paperback formats on June 6th, 2018!

Rating: 10/10

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