The Last Victim–Jason Moss

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This book made me a little queasy.

John Wayne Gacy always does, but this was especially awful.

In this book, the author, Jason Moss, as a freshman in college, decides to do his independent project on serial killers, and so he starts writing letters to serial killers. He designs each one to appeal to each killer specifically and got some good responses.

He started with Gacy, but he also wrote to Manson, Ramirez (the night stalker) and Dahmer.

In the end, Gacy was taking up so much time he had to let the other ones languish for a bit. Gacy was sending him letters every day. He was calling him frequently. He was sending him money and presents.

Finally, Gacy invites Moss to come spend three days visiting him. You would think a serial killer on death row would have a very secure visiting situation but apparently not so much at that location and time. Gacy would bribe the guards for privacy. Moss was alone in the cell with Gacy, Gacy was touching him, exposing himself, threatening to rape and murder him, the entire gamut of awful things.

Moss made it two days out of the three.

He had nightmares for a long time afterwards, even (especially) after Gacy was executed.

In the book he talks extensively about wanting to work for the FBI, maybe as a profiler, and that this is part of his attempt to show them he’s good. Naturally, I wondered if he did make it to the FBI, so I googled him.

He did not. He became a defense attorney. And he killed himself at the age of 31. I can’t help but wonder how much Gacy factored into that. He set himself up like a victim to lure Gacy, but did he actually become the last victim of Gacy’s murderous insanity? I don’t know, but it’s distressing and disturbing regardless.

I don’t really want to recommend this book. It’s interesting but so sad. So creepy. If that’s your thing, maybe this is a good choice. Otherwise maybe not. I’m not squeamish–I read true crime, I listen to true crime podcasts, I watch true crime documentaries, I can even look at the crime scene photos without too much of an issue (mostly) but this, despite not being that graphic, was just so disturbing to me.

 

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Too Late to Say Goodbye–Ann Rule

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True crime!

This is the story of Bart and Jenn Corbin.

Bart Corbin was a dentist who married his girlfriend Jenn when she became pregnant with their first son. That marriage did not stand in the way of his long-standing affair with the married dental hygienist at his office, though. Because he is a TERRIBLE PERSON.

They eventually had another son and he was incredibly possessive and controlling, and very demanding of Jenn and her time and attention.

She eventually decided to leave him, in part because of an online romance with someone who turned out to be catfishing her, although that term was not in use at the time of her death. But even after she found out that her online paramour was not who she thought he was, she was still ready to leave Bart because by then she realized he was not a good person or a good husband and that she would be better off without him, no matter how hard it was for them to survive.

But he’s not really the kind of person to let things go.

He preemptively filed for divorce, then went around talking about how much he wanted to make his marriage work.

And then she was found dead in her bed one morning, by their son. She had been shot in the head. The initial reports suggested suicide but the forensic evidence suggested murder.

He was, obviously, the first suspect. He didn’t come to the house when he was told, never asked to see or speak to his children, and made an appointment that weekend for a haircut, saying he needed a new look because he was a widower.

None of that is what you expect from a man who just lost his wife to suicide.

And then the family discovered that his dental school girlfriend was also found dead, of a gunshot to the head. The same kind of gun that was used to kill Jenn was used in her death. It was ruled a suicide but her family and friends never believed that.

Investigators reopened the case of Dolly Hearn (the dental school girlfriend) and found that after she broke up with him, Bart had been stalking her like a crazy person, kidnapping her cat, replacing her contact solution with hairspray, putting sugar in her gas tank and so on, but that she had tried to keep him more or less happy because he was about to graduate and she just wanted him to go away.

The weekend of his graduation, she was found dead. She had been defrosting food for dinner and was working on a project, neither of which is consistent with someone about to kill themselves.

Modern forensics confirmed what investigators at the time could not, which was that she was also murdered.

He was charged with both murders, and prosecutors got ready to try him in two different counties.

All the while, they were hunting down the source of the gun used to kill Jenn. When they found it, they had enough to ensure a conviction and he took the plea deal they offered.

It’s amazing to me how many women are killed by their husbands and partners. My first marriage was dangerous, and I’m fortunate his sense of self-preservation was greater than his self-confidence or I might have died when I left him, too. There’s not enough attention or legislation protecting women from their partners, especially when you consider how frequently women are hurt and killed by their partners.

 

 

The Long Goodbye–Raymond Chandler

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I’ve read The Big Sleep many times, but only just got around to reading this one. There is, apparently, a movie version of this as well, but not with Bogart and therefore I’m not sure what the point is.

Side note: If you are unfamiliar with the podcast “You Must Remember This” I cannot recommend it highly enough. I’m not caught up to the current season yet, I’m still in last season’s episodes on the blacklist, and the Bogart episode was so good. But really, all the episodes are so good. End side note.

In this book, Marlowe encounters a drunk man in the parking lot of an expensive club. His date drives off in the Rolls, leaving him in the parking lot and Marlowe rescues him. Later they reconnect and share the occasional drink and talk, but never really become intimate.

Which makes it a bit of surprise when Lennox–the drunk man–shows up on his doorstep early one morning holding a gun and asking for a ride to Mexico. Marlowe insists that Lennox tell him nothing–he’s familiar with the laws about accessories after the fact, after all–but suspects that Lennox may have shot his notoriously unfaithful wife.

He gets his friend to the airplane and later is picked up by the cops who want to know where Lennox is. He refuses to snitch and spends a few days in jail, before he’s released because Lennox wrote out a full confession and then killed himself in Mexico, so the case is closed and it’s all over.

Except that it’s not, really, because it’s all so unexpected. The wife wasn’t shot (she was, actually, but we don’t know that till much later) but had her face bashed in with a statuette, which is not really something anyone can believe Lennox would have done. And why would he go to Mexico, only to kill himself?

But everyone, including the dead woman’s very very rich father, wants the case to stay dead so he lets it go.

Then he’s hired by a couple named Wade. Wade’s a writer, who has suddenly turned into a serious drunk. He’s been violent with his wife in his drunken state and more importantly to everyone, he’s not writing and he’s on deadline for his next book. They want Marlowe to babysit him and ideally figure out what’s eating at him and turning him into a drunk. Marlowe refuses, but when Wade goes missing, he can’t resist the plea of the very lovely Mrs. Wade to find him. He does find him and from there they settle into an uneasy pattern where he is called over when there’s a crisis but he’s not really on the payroll or doing much to keep anything in check.

Until the night that he’s called over by Wade himself, who is drunk as hell, and eventually passes out on the sofa. He goes downstairs and waits for the wife to come home, and when she gets there they go back up to find that he’s been shot in the head. Suicide? Murder?

In true mystery novel fashion, the Wades are connected to the Lennoxes (they were neighbors and friends) and the death of Mr. Wade connects to the death of Mrs. Lennox.

These noir mysteries are so lovely, full of atmosphere and drama. Imagine Bogart as Marlowe while you read.