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 Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

REVIEW: The Last Book on the Left: Stories of Murder and Mayhem from History’s Most Notorious Serial Killers by Marcus Parks, Ben Kissel, and Henry Zebrowski

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Since its first show in 2010, The Last Podcast on the Left has barreled headlong into all things horror, as hosts Henry Zebrowski, Ben Kissel, and Marcus Parks cover subjects spanning Jeffrey Dahmer, werewolves, Jonestown, and supernatural phenomena. Deeply researched but with a morbidly humorous bent, the podcast has earned a dedicated and aptly cult-like following for its unique take on all things macabre.

In their first book, the guys take a deep dive into history’s most infamous serial killers, from Ted Bundy to John Wayne Gacy, exploring their origin stories, haunting habits, and perverse predilections. Featuring newly developed content alongside updated fan favorites, each profile is an exhaustive examination of the darker side of human existence. With appropriately creepy four-color illustrations throughout and a gift-worthy paper overboard format, The Last Book on the Left will satisfy the bloodlust of readers everywhere.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I have been listening to The Last Podcast on the Left for a couple of years now. I love how they talk about these serial killers and rips the curtain mainstream media has placed around them and expose them for who they indeed are.

Years of researching serial killers has revealed that most of these criminals are not the monsters of nightmares they are so often portrayed to be by “true crime entertainment” but are more often huge dorks who couldn’t get anything right in their lives so they turned to murder and mayhem.

Henry Zebrowski of Last Podcast on the Left

However, on their podcast, they talk about more than just serial killers and true crime. They also discuss various paranormal and occult topics. They recently finished up a series about the history of lobotomy, and I found the subject to be fascinating as well as a bit gross.

This collection of serial killer histories is worth the read for any true crime fan, and I feel it’s a great introduction to the podcast itself. Marcus tells the story, and Henry and Ben interject with jokes and humorous comments. Although, when the subject revolves around UFOs and aliens, Henry tends to take over the story and adds pieces of his research.

Overall, if you are looking for a true-crime read that’s not afraid to have a sense of humor, then I would recommend Last Book on the Left. This collection is perfect for fans of the podcast or looking for an introduction to true crime. This story will leave you laughing while double-checking the locks on your doors and windows.

Posted in Movie/TV Reviews, Non-Fiction, Personal Blogs

REVIEW: The Confession Killer

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From IMDb.com

Henry Lee Lucas was known as America’s most prolific serial killer, admitting to hundreds of murders, but, as DNA results contradict his confessions, will they expose the biggest criminal justice hoax in U.S. history?

I have been a fan of true crime for the past few years. My first memory of being fascinated with true crime, was when the Casey Anthony trial was going on in Florida. However, I’ve only been really invested in learning about true crime since the big boom of true crime trending on the Internet. Although I believe the true crime genre has always been a focal point in society ever since the very beginning.

I had never heard of Henry Lee Lucas before I got invested in the genre. After I listened to a few podcasts that discussed his crimes, I just brushed him off as another severely mentally ill individual who murdered whoever crossed his path.

I watched this docuseries while I was at home recovering from a bad cold, and I was shocked at how out of control this story ended up being. Not only do you have another mini-series that is “this is why he’s evil”, and “this is why he’s innocent”, but you get a conspiracy to cover up the Lucas case.

This was a fascinating watch. I was enthralled as they kept showing pictures and videoes Lucas helping the Texas Rangers and other detectives from different areas close these cold cases by “confessing” to them. I was shocked at how many crimes he actually confessed to, and seeing them on a map was stunning. However, when they discuss the timeline of his crimes, and how many contradict each other was impossible to ignore.

I liked how they had various people who both knew Henry Lee Lucas, and have had a part in the case. It was interesting to see how not only were the Texas Rangers the highest power in law enforcement before the FBI fully developed a behavioral analysis unit but for the fact they had the power to make the mistakes they made during the case disappear or become “confidential”.

I can understand how much pressure more rural town police departments have when a murder happens in their town, and they aren’t trained per se, but hearing about a serial killer who is confessing to all of these seemingly mysterious murders would ease their case-load.

The only issue I had with this docuseries is I wish they had discussed more of Lucas’s background. They mention that his mother was physically abusive and was a prostitute. As well as how his father has a severe drinking problem that caused him to get into a train accident where he lost both of his legs. Lucas even discusses this in the clips of the interviews they had with him. However, I kind of wish they went further into his childhood.

Overall, I really enjoyed his mini docuseries. The focus was on the victims’ families and not glorifying what Lucas had done. It was a real deep-dive into an investigation that was corrupted and severely mishandled. Hopefully, we can learn from their mistakes and not repeat these events going forward in the world of crime-solving.

I would recommend this docuseries for fans of true crime, and for anyone looking for a good watch on Netflix.

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

REVIEW: The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington

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*No Major Spoilers*

The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist chronicles how the courts and Mississippi’s death investigation system–a relic of the Jim Crow era–failed to deliver justice for its citizens and recounts the horrifying story of the two men who built successful careers on the back of this system. For nearly two decades, medical examiner Dr. Steven Hayne performed the vast majority of Mississippi’s autopsies, while his friend Dr. Michael West, a local dentist, pitched himself as a forensic jack-of-all-trades. Together they became the go-to experts for prosecutors and helped put countless Mississippians in prison. But then some of those convictions began to fall apart.

Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington argue that bad forensics, structural racism, and institutional failures are at fault, and raise sobering questions about our criminal justice system’s ability to address them.

When I first read the description for this nonfiction novel, I assumed it was going to be discussing how a doctor and a dentist conned the justice system. This goes way deeper than just a couple of crooked medical professionals being paid to lie about results and give false testimony. It goes as far as proving that all forensic sciences may not be exactly as though they seem.

With my initial intrigue of this novel as I read, it became much, much more interesting. It gave me quite the insight into some of the past history of forensics and how easily it can be botched, mishandled and or abused.  This novel has piqued my interest and has made me even more curious about forensics and it has also inspired me to look into going to school for Criminal Justice.

This book is an excellent read for anyone into criminal justice, forensics or the sciences of anything related to criminal justice.  I really did enjoy it and was surprised by the information in this book, I wasn’t expecting it to go as deep as it did.

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

REVIEW: Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women Known as the Jeff Davis 8? by Ethan Brown

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*No Spoilers*

An explosive, true-life southern gothic story, Murder in the Bayou chronicles the twists and turns of a high-stakes investigation into the murders of eight women in a troubled Louisiana parish.

Between 2005 and 2009, the bodies of eight women were discovered around the murky canals and crawfish ponds of Jennings, Louisiana, a bayou town of 10,000 in the heart of the Jefferson Davis parish. Local law enforcement officials were quick to pursue a serial killer theory, opening a floodgate of media coverage—from CNN to The New York Times. Collectively the victims became known as the “Jeff Davis 8,” and their lives, their deaths, and the ongoing investigation reveal a small southern community’s most closely guarded secrets.

This True Crime novel interested me because I have never heard of the Jeff Davis 8 before. I also thought it’d be an interesting read because it’s a case not discussed very often.

This book investigates the murder of eight women who were involved in drug and prostitution world of Lousiana. As Mr. Brown is delving into this mystery, you begin to realize it goes much deeper than just a drug deal gone horribly wrong.

The discussion on corruption by the police force as well as the racial tensions makes this mystery much more enticing. You never find out who the real culprit is or whether it was a group of people involved or if it was a serial killer.

I would highly recommend this novel if you are a true crime buff and if unsolved cases peak your interests.