The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!
Beautifully written and heartfelt while stark and horrifying, Behold the Monster is an absolute triumph. Jillian Lauren is masterful with her pen and you can tell the struggle she feels internally and externally when dealing with such stark evil. Her internal conflicts are relevant without being distracting and she lends heart to the important part of Samuel Little’s story, the victims. I usually do not enjoy nonfiction, because I find it either too dry or too emotional. This is a perfect balance of both and I recommend it to anyone who feels compelled to read the stories of those who were forgotten.
Behold the Monster by Jillian Lauren, (List Price: $27.99, Sourcebooks, 9781728267753, July 2023)
Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia
I don’t read a lot of “true crime,” and I honestly struggled with this one until I realized that it had completely captured my attention and I was unable to put it down. Paul Holes has lived a life unimaginable to most of us; facing the depths of depravity and the lengths of evil that exist in this world over the course of his lifetime. Clearly it has affected him…he paints himself as a rather unlikable character, single-mindedly focused on his work at the expense of his relationships, his marriage and his family. Imagine obsessing over one single thing (in his case capturing the Golden State Killer) every day of your life for over two decades. It is no wonder his personal life suffered as a result, but so deep was his obsession with this particular cold case, even his professional life was negatively impacted. I almost wonder if he isn’t affected by Autism or some other syndrome that drove his compulsion to pursue this predator for most of his career. This is a fascinating read not just in the steps it takes to catch a killer, but in how it can affect the lives of so many different people in so many different ways. It is disturbing, but compelling and even if it isn’t something you would normally pick up, it was an amazing read.
Unmasked by Paul Holes, (List Price: $28.99, Celadon Books, 9781250622792, April 2022)
Reviewed by Brent Bunnell from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina
Catch The Sparrow is a puzzle of a true crime story as Rachel Rear investigates the mysterious disappearance of her stepsister twenty years ago. Through her research, Rear finds that there are more than a couple of people in her sister’s life who could have had a motive in her murder. And as she digs deeper into the police investigation surrounding the case, she also uncovers glaring oversights and corruption within the local police department as well as the legal system in and around Rochester, NY. Every chapter pulls a new fascinating thread and eventually leads the author to the chilling truth, offering her and her family the closure that they’ve always sought.
Catch the Sparrow by Rachel Rear, (List Price: $27.00, 9781635577235, February 2022)
Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, .novel in Memphis, Tennessee
You probably know the names of John Douglass and Robert Ressler, the mind hunters of the FBI. But it was Ann Burgess who helped develop a more scientific way to interview serial killers and serial rapists in order to catch future criminals. Burgess caught the eye of the FBI because of her groundbreaking research into rape offenders, and she brought her analytical mind to what is now the Behavioral Science Unit. A must read for any true crime buff, and a fascinating look into the early days of profiling.
A Killer by Design by Ann Wolbert Burgess, (List Price: $28.00, Hachette Books, 9780306924866, December 2021)
Reviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia
Jobb captures the hypocrisy, class differences, and gender inequality of the times in an extensively researched non-fiction telling of the forgotten nineteenth century serial killer Dr. Thomas Neill Cream. Jobb takes his research of Dr. Cream’s life, court appearances, and death and turns it into an account that reads like a crime novel that is both grim and hard to put down.
The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer by Dean Jobb (List Price: $27.95, Algonquin Books, 9781616206895, June 2021)
Reviewed by Ashley Bohinc, Main Street Reads, in Summerville, South Carolina