My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received this from Goodreads in a giveaway but that did not influence my opinion on this. It's hard to review this (and in fact it took me quite some time to get to this point for which I apologize. I do try to review ARCS quickly). As a true-crime book, this isn't my favorite. As memoir, it works but that's probably not what it's meant to be.
It centers on The OCCK ( The Oakland County Child Killer), a series of rape/murders in Detroit in the late 70s. The author was nearly kidnapped there himself in this time period which makes for an understandable compulsion for Appelman to dig into this case. However, it feels almost like we're looking at his raw notes. This isn't a clean progression from the first crime to the conclusion. It's all over the place as if we're seeing things written just after he interviewed whoever the short chapter was about. There's not much depth to it.
To be fair there isn't a conclusion. What is clear there was a pedophilic ring in action here (I've seen TV true crime shows with interviews of some of the surviving victims). One of the pedophiles was wealthy enough to maybe buy some justice but ends up dead in the world's most suspicious suicide (read, he was murdered but it was written off). Appelman (and some of the victim's family members) all buy accuse some of the cops of being dirty, and while there is a suggestion of it, there isn't a whole lot of proof (to back up all the names that were named).
The rest of the book is pure memoir, him talking about his abusive upbringing, his disintegrating marriage (I'd be curious what his kids think of all this), the drug-addicted ex girlfriend he dances around as he investigates this case, his own near abduction, his alcoholism, his iffy relationship with his kids and his sister.
It's a raw and oddly compelling read as a memoir. It was much less satisfying as a true-crime book.
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A Dilly of a Death by Susan Wittig Albert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Truth be told, I like this series but a) I've never read it in order, just however I've found it in the library b) this one is a quick read but has issues.
As a mystery, it's a bit weak. In fact, China goes out of her way not to investigate this crime as MacQuaid was representing Phoebe Morgan, the Pickle Queen as his first client as a P.I. So basically she solves it just by talking to random people (while taking an amusing subtle jab at the cozy genre which is forever having the amateur sleuth go up to people they don't know and start questioning them. How they never get punched in the face is a mystery to me!) and by doing something completely stupid at the end.
In fact there IS no crime for 135 pages of this book ( of 336 pages, so nearly half way into it). They're not even worried that much other than Phoebe is missing along with her boyfriend who is the same age (and is a friend of) her son. Phoebe is the owner of a local and successful pickle factory and controls things with an iron fist, including the picklefest where China and Ruby are on the committee.
So what takes up one hundred plus pages if not a mystery? Them wondering if Phoebe is in Santa Fe with her boy toy and blowing off Picklefest, especially since she might be selling the company (hence hiring MacQuaid, fearing someone on her staff is stealing from her); them worrying about Sheila who has failed to find a burglar who hits the rich and one of them died of a fear (and her job in law enforcement might be at an end thanks to it) and the thing that drove me nuts to the point if I hadn't been reading this for the Popsugar challenge, I might have stopped and said nope.
Since it's literally in the blurb, I feel no need to cut this for spoilers. Ruby's daughter, Amy has moved in with China because her mother is harassing her to have an abortion. Amy is pregnant out of wedlock and won't tell anyone who the dad is. China and MacQuaid half agree with Ruby (and honestly given the readership of cozies, I'm surprised the word abortion was mentioned). I found this utterly frustrating as hell (I'm not anti-abortion by any means) because of WHY they want it to happen. Her tattoos, piercings and picking up of lost causes all indicate that she is totally immature and obviously unfit to be a mom (she is 25 btw, not some pregnant teen). Now she has a history of drug use but it's been so long I don't remember if it was just pot or something harder. Ruby was in this position before (and gave Amy up for adoption so their relationship is new) so there could have been some interesting, important conversations but instead we get Ruby acting so deranged I wanted to slap her senseless and if I was Amy I'd be pretty upset.
The ending was dumb. Seriously. That would be a spoiler to say how but for me, it was eye rolling.
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