TRUE CRIME REVIEW – Chase Darkness With Me by Billy Jensen

”The murders in the shadows add up to a hell of a lot more than the murders in the spotlight. The blood of the forgotten was just as red as the “famous” victims.”

Chase Darkness with Me is an absolute must have for true crime fans. Billy Jensen is an incredible writer. He pours so much of himself into this book – from explaining why he’s interested in helping solve crimes, to his honesty about the sacrifices he’s made to be 110% dedicated to seeking justice. (Spoiler: being a citizen detective is HARD. It’s an enormous commitment and not for the faint of heart.)

The sections about Jensen’s dad are some of my favorites. He was an interesting man (with a somewhat checkered past) and it sounds like he was a dedicated, loving father. If he were alive today, I’m pretty sure he’d be a Murderino.

There are so many emotional ups and downs in this book – from catching the bad guys, to frustration over dead ends. But the lowest and highest points are definitely the loss of Michelle McNamara and the eventual capture of the Golden State Killer.

Jensen’s chapter about learning of Michelle’s death is a tough one – he’s an expert at transferring his grief to the page. (Sidebar: if you have not yet read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, I would recommend picking it up before you read Chase Darkness with Me. It will make the chapters about Michelle and GSK all the better.)

We think of superheroes as vigilantes in flashy costumes that shove the law out of the way and take matters into their own hands – that’s not true here. Jensen is compassionate, driven and dedicated to seeking justice and helping grieving friends and family find closure. He doesn’t step on toes. He works with local authorities. He asks for permission from the families before he takes on a case.

In a world that sometimes feels full of bad guys, Jensen is a good one.

“It’s chaos. Be kind.”

TRUE CRIME REVIEW – Stay Sexy and Don`t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

“You start out with an idea you like. You write that idea down. You let it sit for five days, and when you come back to it, the words have rearranged themselves on the page. Now it’s shape-shifted into the dumbest idea you’ve ever seen.”

SSDGM is the perfect companion to My Favorite Murder. It’s best enjoyed by people who have been MFM fans for a long time (or at least have listened to a sizable chunk of episodes) – there are a lot of references to the podcast, inside jokes, etc.

Karen and Georgia have managed to write one of the funniest/saddest books I’ve ever read. It feels like you’re sitting down with your two cool, older sisters and getting valuable life advice.

Overall, totally worth the wait and the hype.

“We barely get any time on this planet. Do not spend it pleasing other people. Fuck politeness. Live life exactly how you want to live it so you can love the life you make for yourself.”

TRUE CRIME REVIEW – The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

“…extremely wicked, shockingly evil and vile.”

The Stranger Beside me is a must-read for any fan of true crime. I don’t know if it was fate or divine intervention that put Ann Rule and Ted Bundy together in 1971, but it resulted in one hell of a book.

I knew quite a bit about Bundy going into this – I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts and have had an interest in the topic since high school.

This book was still incredibly shocking, terrifying and provided such an in-depth look into Bundy’s life and personality that the reader feels like they knew him. Although Bundy has been dead for 30 years, I still found myself watching for him out of the corner of my eye.

I think what makes Bundy so horrific (as opposed to someone like Charles Manson) is that he could hide his true self. He convinced so many people that he was kind, caring, a good friend, a gentleman. He compartmentalized the various parts of his personality incredibly well. Even after he confessed to multiple murders, Ann Rule admitted that a part of her felt bad for him and mourned who she thought he was.

When I was little, I remember my mom telling me that “monsters are real, they just look like everyone else.” Never has that rung more true. Bundy looked like everyone else. Only his victims saw his true face.

While reading the book, I also started watching the Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix, and it’s been interesting to follow along with both. Would highly recommend either watching the Netflix series or finding a podcast episode about Bundy to supplement your reading.