And Never Let Her Go–Ann Rule

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I discovered a great podcast called “My Favorite Murder” which is a true crime podcast and I recommend it if you have an interest in mysteries and murder and a REALLY HIGH tolerance for swearing. I’m not kidding. It’s a lot of cussing. But so funny.

And it set me off into a true crime rabbit hole and I read this book. Fun fact about Ann Rule: she was a friend of Ted Bundy. So she comes by her profession honestly, is my point.

But this is not a Bundy story, this is the story of the death of Anne Marie Fahey in the late 90s. They made a movie of this book, so if you prefer to watch movies than to read 1) what are you doing here? This is a book blog. Focus. 2) you have that option.

Basically this is the story. Anne Marie Fahey had a really bad life. Her mom died of cancer when she was nine or thereabouts, and her dad sunk into alcoholism and they were always getting their electricity turned off and starving and whatever because he wasn’t working. Her older siblings tried to keep her alive and in food but when she was in high school her dad died of a heart attack and she was taken in temporarily by some friends. She was so worried about them resenting her presence that she ate as little as possible and became obsessively tidy, which continued her entire life.

But she was tough, and she went to college and got a good job, as the scheduling secretary for the governor of Delaware. She started seeing a therapist for her anorexia and it was all coming together.

She met Thomas Capano at work. He was a married prominent attorney, a former prosecutor, and by all accounts very charming. They started dating and she was consumed with guilt about the relationship but obviously she wasn’t in the best place mentally and he was very manipulative and controlling and she kept seeing him even as she wanted to get away from him.

She finally met a real boyfriend, and started pushing harder to leave Capano. And then one day in late June she went to dinner with him and was never seen again.

It was a solid murder and he almost got away with it. He missed a couple of tiny little pinpricks of blood in his great room and they got DNA from it. They put pressure on Capano’s brother, and got him to cave, and he admitted to helping dispose of the body. They took him to trial, where, UNBELIEVABLY, he tried to pitch the theory that his OTHER girlfriend had found out about his relationship with Anne Marie and shot her by accident and he was helping to cover up the crime because he’s a good guy.

Which, let’s all agree from the outset that 1) that’s not the way being a “good guy” works and 2) it takes a stone cold killer to stuff his lover into an ice chest, BREAKING THE LEGS to make her fit, and then wrap an anchor around the body and drop it into the sea.

The jury convicted him to death, but the appeals court commuted it and he died of natural causes in prison.

 

Mindless Eating–Brian Wansink

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This is a great book. The author is a food researcher and basically, unless you are consciously thinking about every bite you ever eat, you have no idea what you are doing. You may think you’re making decisions for yourself but nope nope nope, you are not.

For example, if you’re watching a movie and eating popcorn, you’re eating more than you think. If the container is bigger, you’re eating more, even if the popcorn is terrible.

If you’re eating in the dark, you might not know what the hell you’re eating. That strawberry yogurt might be chocolate yogurt, actually.

Basically, this is a fun book to read and tell your friends about how you’re all so easily tricked by your environment, but the biggest takeaway for me, diet-wise, is that your body does not really feel a 20-30 percent difference in calories either way. In other words, you can eat about 30 percent more calories than you normally do without realizing it and gain about 10 pounds in a year, or you can cut yourself back that much and lose that much without even noticing it.

Which explains what happened when I took that desk job where you could get homemade waffles every Friday for a dollar in the cafeteria. It did not go well for my weight, is my point.

This is not, despite what the other people on the internet seem to think, a diet book. This is mostly a psychology book, about the psychology of how we make decisions, specifically about food. Each chapter DOES have some take-aways on how to apply that chapter’s information can help you improve your diet and weight situation, but it’s not really a diet book. Don’t go into this thinking you’re going to lose a bunch of weight immediately. Take it for what it is.

It is really interesting and fun, though.

Two for the Dough–Janet Evanovich

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This is the second of the Stephanie Plum books written by Janet Evanovich.

These are all numerical, and she’s up to the twenties now. The last maybe half dozen or so of these are getting a bit repetitive and formulaic. It happens with a long running series. I have hope for some shake up but I’m not overly optimistic about it.

Regardless, this is from the beginning of the series when she was still getting settled into the concepts. Most of the characters were established in the first book, some getting more solid footing in this one.

Stephanie Plum is an inept bounty hunter, working for her cousin Vinny at his bail bonds business. She’s looking for Kenny Mancuso, a super creepy guy who shot his friend in the knee and was caught doing it. He was let out on bail and disappeared. Also looking for Kenny is local cop Joe Morelli who claims to be doing so out of concern for the family as the creep is a distant cousin, but he has a secret professional interest in his cousin as well.

Turns out that Kenny had been in the army and quite a few military grade guns and ammo supplies went missing.

Meanwhile, she’s getting some cash on the side from the creepy son of the local undertaker who bought some discount caskets from the army and then had them stolen.

Do you see a common theme? Sure you do.

But knowing that there’s a connection between the undertaker and the soldier and their skeevy business deal doesn’t answer the pertinent questions. To wit: 1) where are the guns and the coffins? 2) why are they both looking for them if they’re in it together–who else is involved? 3) can they find the answers before crazy Kenny starts attacking living people instead of corpses at the funeral home?

This is the book where Lula starts getting the role she’ll play for the rest of the series, that of crazy sidekick. Everyone loves Lula, she’s one of the best parts of this series.

I think these books are fun, even if they are starting to become a little repetitive now.

 

One for the Money–Janet Evanovich

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This is the first book in the Stephanie Plum series, which is a mega bestselling series.

In this book, we meet Stephanie as she’s lost her job as a lingerie buyer for a department store and is out of money and can’t get a job anywhere. Her family suggests she go talk to her cousin about a filing job in his bail bonds business. That job has been filled but the office manager talks her into taking an open bounty hunting job, because it pays better.

Her first fugitive is Joe Morelli, a cop that’s been accused of murder. She has an unpleasant romantic history with him and is not opposed to finding him.

Unfortunately, finding him is easy enough but capturing him is harder. She runs into him several times during the course of her investigation, which is based on the idea that he probably didn’t do the murder and is probably trying to get enough evidence to give the cops a better suspect. Her idea is to investigate the murder herself and see if she can intercept him that way.

An informant had called Morelli with information. When he got to her house, there was some men there and one of those men ended up dead. The informant was nowhere to be found.

She quickly runs into a champion fighter named Benito Ramirez who is totally insane and dangerous. He also had a history with the informant and that makes Stephanie think that he’s involved with this situation.

Also in the mix: Benito’s manager Jimmy Alpha and some low-level goons that are running around.

All she has is desperation and the help of Ranger, a former special forces guy turned bounty hunter who is giving her some basic training in her new profession.

This is a fun book. The movie was not so great, but more or less faithful to the concept.

 

The Pale Horse–Agatha Christie

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This is a fun book.

The narrator, Mark Easterbrook, stumbles upon the existence of murderers for hire in 1960s London. When he finds an actual place with practicing witches in a house with the same name as the murderous society, he becomes suspicious.

Later, a conversation with a police medical examiner friend reveals the existence of a list of people taken down by a priest from a dying woman. The priest was killed moments after making the list.

The list turns out to be a list of people who recently died, of apparently natural circumstances, from an assortment of illnesses. In the local inn by the witch’s abode, the nephew of one of the dead people had been for a visit, about a month before she got sick.

Clearly, something is afoot.

He engages with the witches, claiming to be a man in need of freedom from a wife who won’t divorce him. But when his friend Ginger–playing the wife–starts getting seriously ill for no apparent reason, he starts to panic.

How do the witches do it? There is no physical contact between them and the victim and the only people Ginger saw were normal visitors–meter readers, handymen, and so on.

The answer is found in the work of consumer research firms and one consistent symptom, the loss of hair.

This is a clever little book, as indeed are most of Agatha Christie’s works. Unlike many others, there is no ongoing sleuth (there’s no Poirot or Miss Marple in this. Ariadne Oliver is in this one, but it’s not going to harm you to read this without reading other Oliver-involved mysteries.) so you can read it as a stand alone.