Book review of “The Killer Book of True Crime”

(Guest post by my lovely and talented wife Jade)

Yes, it’s book review time again kiddies.

First of all, I would like to say thanks to Sourcebooks Inc. for sending me their book “The Killer Book of True Crime” by Tom Philbin and Michael Philbin to review. I just wish I had nicer things to say about it.

It starts going wrong in the very first chapter, which in my opinion reads like a how-to for shoplifters, pick-pockets and con men. From there it digresses into pure schlock. Pure, at times inaccurate schlock. I could almost overlook the misspelling of serial killer Dean Corll’s name (they don’t call me the Grammar Bitch for nothing). Then I got to the chapter about female killers where they mentioned North Carolina’s own Velma Barfield, who, according to this book “killed seven husbands, a handful of fiances, and her mother”. Neat trick, considering that she was only married twice. Simple matter of public record. It wouldn’t have been that difficult to get it right.

In each chapter they have little blurb called “Crime Can Be Funny”. Good idea, except for the fact that very few of the stories were funny.

Some cases they devote half a chapter to, some only get one or two sentences. Many of the stories are the sort of sensationalized writing reminiscent of the old true detective magazines that used to be on the rack with the Enquirer and Star at the grocery store. Not to mention the fact that I never really wanted to see pictures of John Kennedy or Marilyn Monroe on the morgue slab. And I really didn’t want to see the ones of JonBenet Ramsey. While there was nothing gruesome about any of these pictures, I just found it to be beyond tacky.

I also could have done without so many statistics. If I want statistics I’ll look them up. When I’m reading a true crime book I want actual cases, not numbers.

This book was not completely without redeeming qualities though. I did learn some new things about cases I read about previously, and read about some others that I had never heard of but now want to read more about.

In short, I would say if you’re a fan of the previously mentioned detective magazines this book might interest you. Otherwise, you’d probably be better off passing on this one.

  • ZappaCrappa

    My wife is a big fan of those “true crime” books…especially Ann Rule. I’ve read a few of her books and some other books by other authors and found so many inconsistencies and contradicitions that I have determined that “true crime” is actually “a few facts with some obvious embelishments and fiction thrown in so I can sell this book” crime novels with “novel” being the key word. ;-)