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Cruel Death [Kindle Edition]

M. William Phelps
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"Phelps is one of America's finest true-crime writers." --Vincent Bugliosi

"Phelps is the Harlan Coben of real-life thrillers." –Allison Brennan

It was Memorial Day weekend, the start of the summer season. Thousands headed to Ocean City, Maryland, to enjoy its scenic beaches, lively boardwalk, and trendy nightclubs. Among the bright-spirited vacationers was a couple with a much darker idea of fun. Erica Sifrit, a former honor student, was packing a gun in her Coach bag. Her husband, B.J., an ex-Navy SEAL, was trained in violence. What started as a chance encounter with another couple ended with two dismembered victims buried in a Delaware landfill. M. William Phelps updates this modern-day "Bonnie and Clyde" saga to create a haunting account of money, madness, sex, and murder. . .

Praise for M. William Phelps

"Phelps's writing reads like a mystery novel." --Suspense Magazine

"One of our most engaging crime journalists." --Katherine Ramsland

Includes 16 Pages Of Dramatic Photos

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Investigative journalist M. William Phelps is the author of I’ll Be Watching You, If Looks Could Kill, Because You Loved Me, Murder in the Heartland, Perfect Poison, Lethal Guardian, Every Move You Make, and Sleep in Heavenly Peace. He has appeared on dozens of national radio and television programs, including Good Morning America, Court TV, The Discovery Channel, Geraldo at Large, and Montel Williams, and has consulted for the Showtime cable television series Dexter. He lives in a small Connecticut farming community with his wife and children.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1209 KB
  • Print Length: 449 pages
  • Publisher: Pinnacle; Reissue edition (February 4, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I0GZJ7K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,646 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SO DISTURBING! February 20, 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I had heard of this case when it happened; I had actually been in the criminals' scrapbook store in Altoona while visiting my sister. Shortly after that, my sister called to tell me that the owners of the store she had taken me to were accused of murdering a couple in Ocean City. I couldn't believe it! While I followed the case after that, I was glad to have a book come out about it. The book was very well written, showing all sides.

This is by far the most disturbing book I have ever read. I read it in a weekend, staying up well after midnight and reading it every waking minute until I finished it. I just could not stop reading because I wanted to find out what happened next. The acts that the Sifrits committed against the victims are unimaginable and parts of the book are extremely gruesome; it is definitely not a book for the faint of heart. It has been a few weeks since I read the book and I still can't stop thinking about it.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sick game for the amusement of two psychopaths August 10, 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ever since I heard about this case I've been looking for a book to get more details. This book does not disappoint! This is a case of two young people, each with a potential for greatness, who drag each other down into a lifestyle fueld by alochol and drugs. This leads to the senseless murder of an innocent couple in a bizarre game of power control. Each of the suspects claims a vastly different scenario to the killings, and this book does an excellent job of protraying both sides and all of the facts.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hooters and Shooters October 17, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the ballad of two of the most pathetic losers to ever team up. We have Erkika and "BJ" Sifrit, a young married couple who enjoy such fine things as snorting mounds of Xanax, excessive alcohol abuse, snakes, tattoos, and horror movies. They consider themselves to be a modern day "Mick and Mallory" and "Bonnie and Clyde". Unfortunately, they managed to get caught only a day or two after their brutal thrill killing of two vacationers when they got collared robbing a Hooters. Erika is obsessed with Hooters..the sad thing is the only job she would ever be able to get there would be in the kitchen so she steals their merchandise instead. I disagree with many of the reviews on here in that I don't think Josh and Geney should be expected to have known what danger they were in. They were drinking and smoking pot with Erika and BJ and therefore probably developed a false sense of familiarity because of this. Plus, you just don't think these two kids would invite you back to their condo to shoot you then dismember you in the bathroom.

If you are interested in this case, I would advise watching one of the many TV docs about it and forgoing this book. I have read other books by Phelps and don't recall ever being this irritated with his writing. First of all,


Seriously, he wrote like this throughout the book. I read to learn things and I felt this book was written at about a fourth grade reading level. Also, this book is responsible for putting a graphic image in my mind they will never go away. None of the other sources about this case chose to mention the aspect of the crime I am referring to and Phelps did include a disclaimer at the beginning of the story that some of this is surely not meant for the victim's families to read. However, he chose to include it and I am sick to my stomach for it.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not so Cruel Reading December 6, 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is well written and very compelling reading. I couldn't put it down. The author delves into everyone involved: victims, perpetrators, detectives and attorneys. It is very gruesome in some parts but helps paint the overall brutatlity of the crime. The only complaint I have is the author didn't really explain how the female criminal, Erika, ended up becoming the murderous person she became.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars couldn't put it down...BUT... October 22, 2012
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Cruel Death was very difficult for me to put down, on a night that I very much needed to sleep-I still decided to keep plowing ahead in this horrifying tale. Afterwards I couldn't sleep at all, thinking about those poor people murdered on some bizarre whim. I am still paying for this lack of sleep now. However captivating this book is, I cannot deny that there were serious problems with it (technical and content).

I agree with other reviewers that something about the style was choppy and at times, kept the reader too much at bay. Some remarks that were made in some parts had no follow through later. The book seems to be organized flashback style in the beginning, then chronological. I recall more than a few sentences promising some additional information that never surfaced. The blending of the different perspectives of that night was confusing at times (Erika vs. BJ's). I am no Jane Austen, but I am old enough now to see some glaring writing issues that keep me from truly being satisfied with a book.

As for content-I was really disappointed. I really really really wanted to know more about the WHAT IN THE WORLD DID THESE TWO VERY RESPECTABLE, ESTABLISHED, OLDER PEOPLE WANT TO PARTY WITH TWO PSYCHOPATHS FOR???? What were they like as people? It is obvious that they were very kind and also responsible workers, but were they naive? Swingers? Prone to making crappy decisions when drinking? Liable to get blackouts? There was a little about Joshua Ford but very very little about his girlfriend Martha. Perhaps Phelps had no cooperation from their families. Maybe he didn't ask for it, probably thinking that he'd rather not involve them.
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More About the Author

Crime writer, serial killer expert and New York Times bestselling investigative journalist M. William Phelps is the author of 27 nonfiction books, THE DEAD SOUL, a thriller, and winner of the Excellence in Journalism Award (2013). He consulted on the first season of the Showtime series Dexter, has been profiled in Writer's Digest, Connecticut Magazine, NY Daily News, NY Post, Newsday, Suspense Magazine, and the Hartford Courant, and has written for Connecticut Magazine. Winner of the New England Book Festival Award for I'll Be Watching You and the Editor's Choice Award from True Crime Book Reviews for Death Trap, Phelps has appeared on nearly 100 television shows, including CBS's Early Show, ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today Show, The View, TLC, BIO Channel, and History Channel.

Phelps created, produces and stars in the hit Investigation Discovery series Dark Minds, now in its third season; and is one of the stars of ID's Deadly Women. Radio America called him "the nation's leading authority on the mind of the female murderer." Touched by tragedy himself, due to the unsolved murder of his pregnant sister-in-law, Phelps is able to enter the hearts and minds of his subjects like no one else. He lives in a small Connecticut farming community and can be reached at his website,

Author photo © Investigation Discovery/Dark Minds

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