I’ve been doing a bit of light reading lately, with two true crime books from WildBlue Press. Netgalley provided them in return for an honest review.
Publication Date: 7th April 2016
A Shocking Story Of A Brutal Murderer And The Intrepid Police Investigators Who Tracked Him Down And Made Him Pay
One morning in July 1974, Anita Andrews, the owner and bartender at Fagiani’s Cocktail Lounge in Napa, California was found dead in her bar–raped, beaten, and stabbed to death in a bloody frenzy. She’d last been seen alive the night before talking to a drifter who sat at the end of the bar, playing cards and flirting with her. But the stranger, along with Anita’s Cadillac, had disappeared. Unable to locate a suspect, police investigators sadly watched the case grow cold over the years.
Meanwhile a month after Anita’s murder, young Michele Wallace, was driving down a road in the mountains near Crested Butte, Colorado, when she gave two stranded motorists, Chuck Matthews and a man named Roy, a ride. Dropping Matthews off at a bar in Gunnison, she agreed to take “Roy” to his truck. She was never seen alive again, nor could a massive search of the mountains locate her remains. The trail leading to her killer also ran into deadends.
Fourteen years later, Charlotte Sauerwin, engaged to be married, met a smooth-talking man at a Laundromat in Livingston Parish, Louisiana. The next evening, her body was found in the woods; she’d been raped, tortured, and her throat slashed. The police suspected her fiance, Vince LeJeune, though he proclaimed his innocence to anyone who would listen. Meanwhile, the man from the Laundromat couldn’t be located.
The three murders would remain unsolved, eating at the hearts, minds and lives of the women’s families, friends and communities. Then in the early 1990s, a rookie Gunnison County sheriff’s investigator named Kathy Young began looking into the Wallace case and identified a suspect named Roy Melanson, a serial rapist from Texas. It would lead her and other investigators looking into murders and rapes in other states to a serial killer who struck again and again with seeming impunity. SMOOTH TALKER is the story of Melanson, his depredations, and the intrepid police work that went into bringing him to justice not just in Colorado, but California and Louisiana.
Absolutely absorbing narrative of the case and the police work tracking down the killer, as technology improved and new cases came up or cold cases were reviewed. The book was fairly well-written although the narrative felt a bit disorganised at times. It wasn’t confusing as such, but it did mean keeping track of multiple investigation narratives at once.
Publication Date: 21st June 2016
Updated e-book edition – first published in 2000
On March 15th, 1987 police in Anchorage, Alaska arrived at a horrific scene of carnage. In a modest downtown apartment, they found Nancy Newman’s brutally beaten corpse sprawled across her bed. In other rooms were the bodies of her eight-year-old daughter, Melissa, and her three-year-old, Angie, whose throat was slit from ear to ear. Both Nancy and Melissa had been sexually assaulted.
After an intense investigation, the police narrowed the principle suspect down to 23-year-old Kirby Anthoney a troubled drifter who had turned to his uncle, Nancy’s husband John, for help and a place to stay. Little did John know that the nephew he took in was a murderous sociopath capable of slaughtering his beloved family.
This true story, shocking and tragic, stunned Anchorage’s residents and motivated the Major Crimes Unit of the Anchorage Police Department to do everything right in their investigation. Feeling the heat as the police built their case, Kirby bolted for the Canadian border. But the cops were on to him. First they hunted him down; then the cops and a tenacious prosecutor began their long, bitter battle to convict him up against an equally tough defense lawyer, as well as the egomaniacal defendant himself. This shocking tale reached its climax in a controversial trial where for the first time an FBI profiler was allowed to testify and the controversial, pre-DNA science of allotyping was presented to a jury. But justice would not be served until after the psychopathic Kirby Anthoney took the stand in his own defense – and showed the world the monster he truly was.
MURDER IN THE FAMILY became an instant New York Times Bestseller when it was first released in 2000. Barer has updated the eBook version of this classic true crime tale of horror.
This is a fascinating case of a true psychopath, and although the details of the crime are hard to read and including the murderer’s rambling monologues slows the later stages of the book down. – at that point I just wanted him to be put away and to know that he’ll never get out again – it was well written but there were some irritating spelling errors that threw me out of the narrative at times, especially when I had to parse the meaning of the sentence.