Posted in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

REVIEW: Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes


*Do Nonfiction Books Have Spoilers?*

Trigger Warning for Murder, Death, Divorce, and Grieving

When I look back at my long career, there is a lot I am proud of. I have caught some of the most notorious killers of the twenty-first century and brought justice and closure for their victims and families. I want to tell you about a lifetime solving these cold cases, from Laci Peterson to Jaycee Dugard to the Pittsburg homicides to, yes, my twenty-year-long hunt for the Golden State Killer.

But a deeper question eats at me as I ask myself, at what cost? I have sacrificed relationships, joy—even fatherhood—because the pursuit of evil always came first. Did I make the right choice? It’s something I grapple with every day. Yet as I stand in the spot where a young girl took her last breath, as I look into the eyes of her family, I know that, for me, there has never been a choice. “I don’t know if I can solve your case,” I whisper. “But I promise I will do my best.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When I’m not listening to audiobooks, or reading on my Kindle, I’m listening to podcasts. I discovered this podcast called “Jenson and Holes: The Murder Squad”, it features investigative journalist Billy Jenson and retired cold case investigator Paul Holes. They would discuss cold cases, and explain police procedure to their audience who might not know how a murder investigation works in real life.

So when I saw Unmasked on the pre-order on Books-a-Million, I was so excited. I am a fan of true crime. I try to read more of it, but sometimes fiction is just what the doctor ordered. So now let’s dive into Unmasked.

Most of this autobiography talks about the Golden State Killer case. It was a lot of detectives’ Moby Dick, their elusive white whale. However, it was breakthrough in forensic technology that uncovered the truth in the end. I think this technology will go a long way and possibly clear up more cold cases.

You can’t finish a puzzle without all of the pieces.

Paul Holes; Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases

Seeing how Mr. Holes’ career morphed and grew over time is interesting. You see him want to be more of a lab rat, and less of a politics-driven supervisor of the labs. He wants to process evidence, and leave the politics to those who can handle that.

The discussions of divorce, love fading, and regrets for how things turned out brought back memories of my parents’ divorce. It was difficult for me to listen to however, it was nice hearing him reflect on it and realize what went wrong. A lot of ex-couples seem to be too prideful to realize what went wrong in their failed relationships.

Overall, I really enjoyed this true crime audiobook. It was informative as well as personal and relatable.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

REVIEW: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

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*History Spoilers*

The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines brightly in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.

I first came across this nonfiction novel by listening to a podcast called Stuff You Missed in History Class. The way the narrators of the podcast discussed this story shocked me. It is a heart-wrenching story of young women who were just trying to support their country, in the end, to be poisoned and wasted away is difficult to hear.

This was a “Goodreads Choice Winner” in 2017. I can see why this historic story won. A tale of 1920s America and the mistreatment of the female workers is what makes this interesting to read. The coming age of nuclear energy is clear in this memoir.

The Ramifications from this outbreak of what’s proclaimed to be “not harmful” and “a miracle medicine” caused laws and legislation to be put in place so that workers have rights if their workplace caused them harm. As well as regulations and laws about protecting a worker from radiation poisoning and keeping the Earth safe from fallout debris.

I would highly recommend this novel if you’re interested in true stories about the 1920s America and scandals involving large corporations. This memoir will have you reaching for the tissues and make you feel for those workers and their families.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Novels

REVIEW: I Will Find You: Solving Killer Cases from My Life Fighting Crime by Lt. Joe Kenda

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*No Major Spoilers*

Detective Lt. Joe Kenda, star of Homicide Hunter, shares his deepest, darkest, and never before revealed case files from his 19 years as a homicide detective. 

Are you horrified yet fascinated by abhorrent murders? Do you crave to know the gory details of these crimes, and do you seek comfort in the solving of the most gruesome? In I WILL FIND YOU, the star of Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda shares his deepest, darkest, and never-before-revealed case files from his two decades as a homicide detective and reminds us that crimes like these are very real and can happen even in our own backyards.

Gruesome, macabre, and complex cases. Joe Kenda investigated 387 murder cases during his 23 years with the Colorado Springs Police Department and solved almost all of them. And he is ready to detail the cases that are too gruesome to air on television, cases that still haunt him, and the few cases where the killer got away. These cases are horrifyingly real, and the detail is so mesmerizing you won’t be able to look away. The tales in I WILL FIND YOU will shock you like the best horror stories-divulging insights into the actions, motivations, and proclivities of nature’s most dangerous species. Don’t mind the blood.

Let me start off by saying, Homicide Hunter is one of my favorite shows on Investigation Discovery. Lt. Kenda’s dry and morbid sense of humor makes me chuckle. His catchphrase: “Oh, my my” is how you know he found the bad guy!

This autobiography is Lt. Kenda’s retelling of some of his stories and cases that aren’t TV friendly. True Crime has never bothered me since I’ve been interested in the subject. I always joke that in a different life I could have been an F.B.I. agent.

If you are able to listen to the audiobook of this memoir, I would highly recommend the audiobook. Lt. Kenda narrates his memoir just as if he was talking on the TV. It’s an easy listening and just as enjoyable as reading the book itself.

Some of my favorite stories involved bar brawls that quickly got out of hand. Alcohol and pure rage can turn any man into an unstoppable monster. Just imagining bar patrons and the police fighting in one big mess humors me for some reason.

I would recommend this memoir for those that love true crime and the show Homicide Hunter. Also if you love a good policeman’s stories, this memoir is perfect for you!