13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2003
I just finished this book. I am so stunned by what I read, it's hard to know where to start. I have been a serious true crime reader for nearly 20 years. While I have read my share of unbelievable acts humans can inflict upon each other, nothing...nothing hit me like this. I haven't been able to get Shanda Sharer out of my mind, and the grisly way that poor little girl lost her life. Aphrodite Jones did a good job telling this tragedy. It chronicles the true story of four teenaged girls as they set out one night to "scare" 12 year old Shanda Sharer into staying away from another's ex-lover. This frightening book is not about a night that went wrong. It's not about a scheme that got carried too far. It's not about an accident, or mistake these girls made. It is, however, a story about out-of-control jealousy and a calculated, pre-meditated, heinous crime. This is the 2nd book of Jones' I've read, and while she doesn't get "meaty" like Ann Rule, I thought her writings were well-balanced, albiet sometimes confusing. I disagree with another reviewer's comments that she portrayed the four girls in a sympathetic light. While she stated facts regarding their own dysfunctional lives, it never gave me the sense of feeling any pity for those four girls, nor did I believe those were the feelings of this author. Jones' book was nearly impossible for me to put down. In all my years of reading true crime, I thought I had read it all. I hadn't until now. I simply can't fathom how evil people can be. The most shocking aspect (aside from the horrific death) was that these four mid-western girls were capable of something so vicious, it left me speechless and sickened. Loveless and Tackett deserve death, or at the very least, life in prison with no parole. To this day, a decade later, I seriously doubt either one of those monsters feels remorse. They truly are the stuff nightmares are made of...
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2005
Having read many hundreds of true crime books over the course of thirty plus years, I know better than to expect great literature from this genre. What I want is a well-told story without a lot of extraneous nonsense or repetition. This is what I got from Cruel Sacrifice. I didn't expect much when I picked it up. I have read other books by Aphrodite Jones and wasn't impressed. But this one was a page-turner. There were not too many wasted words and she did a good job of conveying the events of a complicated story. I don't believe it was the author's intention to tell the reader whether those convicted of the murder were bad or good, deserving of sympathy or not. Anyone who reads the book can come to his or her own conclusion. I do recommend this book to fans of the genre.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2000
I have just finished this highly disturbing and very graphic book about the murder of 12 year old Shanda Sharer. This is a story that will shock even the most hardened true crime/murder readers. It is the story that nobody should have to read.I say that because it is a true account of five young women,one of whom died after being beaten,tortured and finally set on fire.Nobody likes to imagine that this sort of thing can happen but sadly,it does and it has. Too much of the fact that some of these girls are lesbians seems to give this account a reason for Shandas death.Yes,there is lesbianism going on,but there is also a deadly combination of severe child abuse,jealousy,mental illness and hate going on too. I do not like what these girls did to Shanda as nobody deserves this wickedness let alone a 12 year old child,but the sad fact is,is that Melinda Loveless,Laurie Tackett,Hope Rippey and Toni Lawrence are products of a dysfunctional way of life. What happened to Shanda is very disturbing and highly upsetting and I feel for her family and friends who no longer have her with them. I lent this book to a friend of mine who didn't like the fact that a great portion of this book concentrated on Loveless and Tackett and not so much on Shanda. I feel that Aphrodite Jones was right to portray the story this way.If we are to learn anything from this incident then we need to look not only at the victim but the accused as well. We need to analize these sorts of people and try to work out why something like this has happened and go on to try and make sense of it so that other children never suffer the same fate. A book written only about Shanda would have given us only half the story as we would then be left wondering WHY these girls did what they did and WHO were they. This book can be a bit 'tabloidy' but for those truly interested in the whole story of those that kill and the victims they choose then this book tries very hard to gather all the facts. Some of you may disagree but this book was written to give the facts,not as a tribute to Shanda.I think the author has done what she set out to do in the best way possible.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2006
I have read a great deal about this case and just before reading this had read "Little Lost Angel" by Michael Quinlan. Since I read them back to back I can compare.
There are some omissions and differences in the reporting of certain events, but I would not say that this book makes excuses for the perps. The most valuable difference between this book and other reporting is EXACTLY the delving into the homelife and personalities of the killers.
Look, a book titled "Little Lost Angel" clearly has a spin. What happened to Shanda is just appalling and horrific, but I don't think she was an "angel" -- people tend to gloss over the faults and human qualities of the dead and gloss over the good points (or human qualities) of those who kill. I think the killers should have fried, frankly, but there is more to learn about inhumanity and crime by looking deeper.
This book is not as well written as Quinlan's, the style is more "sensationalized" and the organization is haphazard in some places, but there is enough additional info on the case to make it worth reading.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2005
In a book about true crime, the worst kind: murder, where all of the main characters are under the age of 17, it makes you wonder exactly where this world is headed in the days so different from which our ancestors, and possibly even our parents, knew. Aphrodite Jones, a best-selling author, tries her best to take you foward in a world where things are too cruel for anyone to comprehend or even understand. This tabloid-like detailed book on how so-called friendships came to be, how and why the murder happened, and what happened to the girls once they were caught is a great read and is hard to put away unless you've turned every single page.
A small Indiana town was shaken and stirred when four young girls, Melinda Loveless, Mary (known as "Laurie") Tackett, Hope Rippey and Toni Lawrence took the life of an innocent 12-year-old Shanda Sharer all in the name of some sort of "puppy love." Sharer, who had only been a resident of her new town for less than six months, never had a clue that she was the target of death when she began her new life at her new school. Three of the murderers whom she did not even know or had ever seen before until the day she was taken from this world. Sharer had taken up a friendship with a young girl named Amanda Heavrin, Loveless's girlfriend at the time, and Loveless grew very jealous and hateful towards Sharer. Loveless feared that the two had more than just a friendship, which they eventually did. Loveless made a vow to have Sharer killed if Sharer didn't leave Heavrin alone, and in the end Sharer paid the ultimate price: her very young life.
With actual letters written between Sharer, Heavrin and Loveless, Aphrodite Jones takes you into the minds of the murderers & the innocent, and even their pasts, to try to and understand and break into little pieces what could spark something so evil, something so worse than just being young and "out of touch."
Typed exactly as written, two of the many letters from Heavrin to Sharer read this:
Hey honey. Yes, I do love you but I just feel like Melinda has me in a trance and I don't know how to get out of it and I'm scared. If I try to get out something bad will happen and I'm scared to death.
I don't think I would ever tell Melinda that we're going out. She would probably kill you. Yes, I love you a lot, Shanda my honey.
Reading about Loveless's past could either give you reason for her actions or spawn off lame excuses, but either way it makes an interesting twist for the case. Tackett's past does the same. Both girls are the "main characters" when it comes to Sharer's death. Hope Rippey and Toni Lawrence seemed to just be along for the ride, often making you wonder whether or not they wanted to be there when the murder took place, or if they realized that this was the real deal and wanted to make excuses to escape punishment. Lawrence often recalls wanting to save Sharer from death after Sharer pleaded to her just hours before her life was taken, but she feared Loveless and did nothing. Later Lawrence would explain this to Sharer's mother, but was denied any pity from the Sharer family.
The photographs of all five girls, including photos of Sharer's autopsy, are haunting and real and definitely add more to the story's text. Mug shots, where two of the murderers are smiling once they were caught, really make this book cold and heartbreaking.
In the end, five people lost their lives, whether taken away from the world or taken away from their families. Every "character" in this book paid a price. A sacrifice.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2005
This is the first Aphrodite Jones book I've ever read. And the last. Where do I start? On several occasions, she got the dates wrong. Was January 12th a Monday or a Sunday? She will talk about the events of May, 1991 and the skip backwards to Christmas 1990 with no warning and then go right back to 1991. I can't count the number of times I had to go back through the book to figure out if I had read something wrong or if she did in fact state it wrong (it was her). At times, she seemed to just be rambling and stating facts. No real story here, just a basic "list" of what happened. I think she might have devoted 3 pages to Shanda but entire PART to the "poor" Loveless family. Kinda begs the question, "Who was murdered? Who is this book about?" It seems she feels sympathy for these animals by the way she describes the 4 girls' lives. Boo-freaking-hoo! She completely paints a picture of 4 girls who lives sucked so bad that they were forced to kill an innocent Shanda. ABout the pictures- bad, bad, BAD. One grainy picture of SHanda and PAGES of pics reserved for the "poor" Loveless family. Larry in his Postal uniform. Really? And she does tend to go on and on on some points. Got boring there for awhile. And for the reviewer who said it was mean or whatever for Shanda's mom to tell Loveless to "rot in hell"- get a grip. Imagine your self in her position. Anyway, didn't like the book. Intrigued, though, to buy the other book you all keep talking about
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2001
I must admit that the book is an accurate account of Shanda Sharer's kidnapping and murder, and the events leading up to it. It's extremely sensational though -- did Ms. Jones REALLY have to include Shanda's autopsy photos? Of course, the whole lesbian love triangle thing was made for sensation. And at least it's entertaining. I read it in one sitting. I recommend Michael Quinlan's book if you're looking for an account of the murder but want less violence and sex.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2000
This book delves into the minds of the seriously disturbed teenage girl. I liked how Jones explained the torment Loveless and Tackett went through in their homes, especially Loveless. It was definitely clear how she became this way. It was horrible, absolutely horrible what they did to Shanda. But when I hear people telling Melinda to "Rot in Hell" I am completely shocked. What also angers me is how Shanda's parents put a lot of the blame on "the girl who persuaded her to enter a lesbian relationship". They have every right to be angry at the girls who killed their daughter, but absolutely no right to blame it on the fact that some of the girls are lesbians. I found myself feeling great compassion for the girls who committed the murder as well as Shanda who was the victim. And I fully believe that all the girls got what they deserved. The four murderers will serve their sentences. And each of them feels pain every single day. This book was an amazing look into the psyche of the greatly disturbed teenage girl.
20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2003
Once more Jones manages to write a bad book about a very intruiging real-life murder case. I bought this book because I was interested in the Shanda Sharer murder. Having never read anything by Jones, I had high hopes (especially after I heard her being interviewed on NPR for her newest book "Red Zone").
What a disappointment. The best way I can compare my reading experience of this book is with watching a particularly bad Lifetime movie.
Jones simply lists anything she has managed to dig up about this case. It's really more of a collage of leads, rumors and courtroom snippets than a formally organized book. Who is this author's editor???? There is absolutely no clear line here.
The four teens who were involved in the murder of a 12-year old girl come across as mere stereotypes. Jones manages to absolutely NOT bring any of them to life. I am just as puzzled about these kids and their reasons for killing a little girl as I was when I read the back of the book.
I still don't understand what really went on the night Shanda was murdered, let alone why this murder occurred. I have no idea how the police built their case (that section was particularly convoluted). I don't know anything about the four girls' state of mind after the crime and their participation in their defense strategy. I have more questions after reading this book than I had before I picked it up.
Oh, there is one more thing that really bothered me. Jones includes pictures of key players in the book. Why did she not include pictures of these kids that would show the reader what they actually looked like day to day? Jones goes to greast lengths of describing the teens physically. Yet, the pictures she chose to include are mug shots only... With the excpetion of one girl (for whom Jones includes several different pictures), the three other teens are forever doomed to merely be remembered as deer caught in the headlight in their mug shots. And of Shanda, the victim, the reader is treated to one blurry picture of the pretty young girl (but plenty of inconsequential autopsy pictures). Lastly, Jones keeps telling us about this lesbian triangle between the victim, one of the guilty teens and this other girl Amanda (not directly involved in the crime). WHY IS THERE NO PICTURE OF AMANDA???
I just don't understand Jones' choices and I truly dislike her convoluted writing style.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2000
"Cruel Sacrifice" tells the story of the savage beating, torture and eventual murder of 12 year old Shanda Sharer by four Indiana teenagers. The story involves lesbianism, love triangle, sex, and abuse. Ms. Jones spent a great amount of time talking about the dysfunctional families of Melinda loveless and Laurine Tackett, two of the girls involved in the murder. Although the information about the families were valid in giving the readers some insight about the girls homelife, I felt she spent too much time on that topic.I found parts of the book redundant and boring. However,it's an easy read.