The Road out of Hell has received so many wonderful reviews that I'm merely a voice in the chorus. But I'll add that the book by Anthony Flacco lived up to the hype.
It's a very nicely written story about a boy who overcome unimaginable abuse. The largely forgotten serial killer described here was recently resurrected from obscurity by the Angelina Jolie movie The Changeling.
This story examines the same case from the perspective of one of the victims - the only one of nearly two dozen to come out of the literal hellhole alive.
At times tough to stomach, especially for the mother of young boys, the book is the riveting account of Sanford Clark, the lone survivor of a California murder farm. The book was so well done it was almost too nicely written. The author might have taken a bit of fictional liberty with dialogue. But I am much fussier than most about that and still had no trouble enjoying the book.
The horrific story comes to an oddly satisfying and uplifting end as Clark rises above his rearing. As a morality tale, the life he led after his rescue is the ultimate rebuttal to the despicable acts of his family.
Another Extraordinary Case
The newest book by true crime author Mardi Link is Isadore's Secret: Sin, Murder, and Confession in a Northern Michigan Town [Amazon; B&N]. The book is a factual account of what was thought of for years as the bizarre disappearance of a nun. Her bones were later found beneath the church, but the truth could not be buried.
Mardi does a superb job of drawing readers into the story by staying strongly in the point of view of those closest to this stunning murder and telling the story in succinct, intelligent prose.
Real depth of research is required to pull off this level of reporting and real talent makes those details matter and keeps the pages turning to the end.
The author has again written the definitive book about a Michigan mystery that long laid neglected.
'In Her Prime'
Another well-written recent book concerns the spousal murder by poison of Mrs. Kathy Augustine Higgs by her husband Chaz Higgs.
Suffice it to say the outcome of the case was well supported by the evidence, and Mr. Higgs isn't a "ladies' man" any longer.
Kathy Augustine was a woman who reminded me of Sarah Palin - she was a tough, conservative, very successful, put-together, controversial, and ethically challenged female politician. At one point she was one of the fastest rising female political stars in the State of Nevada.
The incongruity is that Kathy also had devastatingly bad judgment in men. The only mystery left to ponder in an otherwise straightforward case of uxorcide is what she saw in this man.
Because of the way the tale unfolds, the reader sees the train wreck coming for miles. Genre readers will recognize the familiar tell-tale signs of consciousness of guilt and will appreciate the author's sensitive reporting.
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Have you read a true crime book worth recommending? Drop me a line or leave a comment - we're always on the lookout for great books.