When a Killer Calls by John E. Douglas

4.5 stars Nonfiction Crime

It was a circus performance. Standing trial, the case was held in court but his performance before those in attendance, was more like a show.  He was a performer, putting on quite a show for all those in attendance.  He’s proud, he’s bold, he’s talking in circles.  He’s been careful, precise, and patient so what’s with this performance?  Are we seeing just another side of Bell that he tried to keep hidden.   


This book was a very comprehensive look into this case. From the police, the family, and other individuals close to the case, I got a detail look at this case.  Beginning from day one, they discover that Shari’s disappearance might be tied to a similar case (Debra May) and Bell might be another serial killer.  This book left no stone unturned as Bell might be tied to other disappearance as they start to link similar ties together and we see Bell lose his composure. I liked how the book gave a lot of details as I felt I was a part of the team, doing the research with them.  Each evening, as the family waited to hear from Shari or her abductor, my frustration grew.  This family is being strung along, how could they be so patient and composed?  How were the authorities ever going to catch this guy when he’s being so careful?  When the FBI started to link other cases to him, why?  What led him on this journey?  I thought this was a long book to read when I picked it up but I did find it interesting and engaging and it was a 4.5-star read for me.  I want to thank NetGalley, Scene of the Crime, and Dey Street Books for my copy of this book that I received in exchange for my own honest opinion.  This review in my own opinion.  #WhenaKillerCalls #NetGalley

We Thought We Knew You: A Terrifying True Story of Secrets, Betrayal, Deception, and Murder by M. William Phelps

4.5 stars Nonfiction/True Crime

I’m new to reading true crime novels so I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this book.  I know that I hadn’t heard about this case before, so that was a plus. I like to watch true crime shows on television and reading this book was just like watching an investigation unfold on television.  I liked that there were just a few individuals to keep track of, therefore, I narrowed my suspects down to two, quite quickly.

When Mary arrived home from work, she wasn’t feeling well. Mary would normally fight off an illness, letting her cheerful-self shine through but whatever she had, it was getting the best of her. When her husband Bill awoke in the morning and found that Mary had not slept all night but had been sick all night, he took her to the hospital. They ran tests, gave her fluids and Mary started to feel better.  Reluctant to leave her side, Bill finally went home that evening to sleep while the hospital staff took care of Mary overnight. It wasn’t long before the hospital called the family in, as Mary’s condition deteriorates.  Within 24 hours, Mary’s illness had killed her. 

Crazy! Mary was considered a healthy person. Suddenly, she gets sick and then, just dies?!?  Something is just not adding up. When Bill left that night after he took her to the hospital, she was improving and then, the family is summoned to the hospital when things take a turn for the worse. They ordered an autopsy and it was finally discovered that Mary was poisoned.  How? On purpose or accidentally?  I liked how the author showed this process, how in-depth and difficult this procedure really was.  Mary wasn’t poisoned with your typical toxic either which leads to more investigations and boy, the story really starts to gets interesting now.  

When we meet their son Adam, he was working at the family’s chiropractic business in the office.  This kept him busy fulltime until he decided to go back to school.  He seemed to have it all together until we are introduced to his girlfriend, Katie.  Katie was, in my opinion, needy.  Katie played Adam and he fell for it. Katie becomes a big part of the family as she takes over in the office when Adam returns to school.  She makes the perfect office manager or so, it looks like she does. They were my suspects from the beginning.  Their motive for the killing? I didn’t have one but I felt it must be in the book somewhere.  Their relationship was off and on, all the time.  They’d fight, then made-up and I wondered if they even remembered if they were together or not, half the time.

The investigation itself was interesting and I liked how it was laid out.  I was curious and was feeling analytical as I turned the pages, trying to predict what would be happening next.  Although, I felt at times that some of the investigation was repeated or rehashed over and over again.  I don’t know if that was done as a means to connect pieces together or to remind us what had already occurred but I just wanted to move on.  I did like how the author fed the information to the reader.  It was definitely an interesting story and I think I’m going to look into other books this author has written.

Murder at the Roosevelt Hotel in Cedar Rapids, Iowa by Diane Fannon-Langton

3 stars Nonfiction

I’ve only read a few true-crime books but the ones that I have read, I have really enjoyed.  There were quite a few reasons why I wanted to read this one: the book was short, this book was being read for a local bookclub that I wanted to check out, the book’s event occurred in my hometown and I hadn’t heard of this event before seeing this book.  I have to agree with a few of the reviews that I finally read on this book; it is filled with information.

I used to watch Dragnet when I was a kid.  I remember it as being a show that reported the facts, and I also, remembered the announcers voice. This book reminded me a lot of that television show.  This book contained a lot of facts: he did/said and she did/said, stating the facts and reacting the events, without getting to the know the actual characters or the/their backgrounds. 

I liked that I knew exactly where this event occurred and that this was an actual event.  The book had a great flow to it as the author spells everything out, from beginning to end. I also appreciate the research that went into this book. I wished that there was more character development in the book and that the book was more than just a detail account of the facts that occurred in this event.   

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

4.5 stars Nonfiction

I just have to say “wow!”  I never expected this book to be packed with so much information.  At times, it almost felt overwhelming.  Centered around the 1986 Los Angeles library fire which burned for more than 7 hours and consumed 400,000 books, this book is not just about that fire. This book is about books, fires, libraries, reading, patrons, individuals, writing, it’s about the love of reading.  If any of these subjects’ interest you, then this title should be on your list, but I warn you, this book is not one to be read quickly.  You could do what I did and listen to this book and take breaks digesting what the author read to you, because it’s a lot! 

I found the fire to be interesting as the circumstances surrounding it, were unique.  Being such a big structure, filled with flammable materials, I figured it would be a ball of flames quickly but there were other factors to take into account.  As the author takes off from this subject, she leads me into a multitude of many other subjects, before coming back to the fire many times.  I got to thinking that this book would be a great one to listen to and read at the same time.  I would have loved to make reference to some of the other subjects that she branched off on but that was hard to do while just listening to her.   

I feel that the author did some research before launching into her writing because of the statistical and elaborate facts that she presented in her book.  The author also gave some interesting details about specific individual books in her chapters which sounded like books that I might enjoy and I should look up in the future.  As the author talked about the fire, she talked about how books burn, the investigation on how it started, how they tried to stop the fire, who was affected, the damage, the rebuilding, and the years since.  When I first started listening to this audio, I couldn’t believe this book could be this long but as I continued listening, I wondered how she was going to finally wrap things up in the end.

There were a few times, I thought the book got a bit long and I had to take a break. I think it was “information overload” on my part.  I didn’t really like how the author included random books at the beginning of each chapter.  I think if I had been reading the book, I could have skipped over this but listening to the audio, I couldn’t. Listening to call numbers and titles of books for no particular reason just broke up the mood for the story.

Overall, it’s a great book that’s based on a true event.  The author takes us readers, on an incredible journey, enlightening us with fascinating facts and stories centered around a building, that many of us like to call our second home.