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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2002
This is the most engaging book that I have read this year. I picked it up with very low expectations, and couldn't put the book down. Stowers writing style is very engaging. The twists and turns are remarkable. A very nice piece of research and writing.
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
This is a superior true crime book. It is so complex and so full of characters that it is like several stories. I am struck again at how stupid people are and at how they seem so desperate for any sort of excitement. Adultery seems to be the biggest thrill here. Additionally, I see that so many of the people doing harm to others have sociopathic perhaps this is just an impression. I won't detail any of the story here because it is too complex and I would only be giving a part of it. Like some other juicy true crime tales (see A.W. Gray's Poisoned Dreams (1993), for example) this takes place in and around Dallas, Texas. The characters are not quite as stupid as the ones in Gray's book, and the writing is better.
It interesting how these "true stories" all seem to run together in my mind. The characters are shallow sociopaths, doing drugs, committing adultery willy-nilly, hustling money, flashing status and spending conspicuously. That's it. That's their lives. It's kind of like a burlesque of normal human behavior. That's all, just more extreme. It's really a crack-up at how the authors always say the women are beautiful, and all the losers had everything life could offer and a bright future in front of them before they went down hill. The women, however, judging from their photos, which typically come in a ten page or so spread in the middle of the book, are not "beautiful." They often have dyed blond hair and expensive clothes, etc., but I sure as hell would not find them attractive. The central murderess of this one is Joy Ayler, said to be beautiful, but just one look at her photo and I can tell that she is someone desperately trying to appear attractive. I can tell she would be a nightmare as a mate. Her slutty-looking younger sister would be better. And the guys are all macho types flashing the usual big man, big deal personalities, trying to hustle as much of everything in this world as possible, sex, money, drugs, experiences, status, etc. And how they pretend such tender emotions; how much they love their children, etc. They think. They actually believe they love their children, but their behavior suggests otherwise as they destroy their lives, and the lives of those around them.
Stowers begins very well, keeping us in doubt about who is really guilty a medical doctor; or her boyfriend, a building contractor. He writes the story from a police POV with Dallas police detective Morris McGowan as the hero. Stowers does such a good job of getting us to identify with McGowan that I saw for a moment just how difficult it must be to be a cop, and how easy it is to screw up an investigation, since they are so so difficult to pursue. And for that, Stowers is to be commended. The latter half of the book is less well-focused, scattered as it is among so many personalties, but still well done. By the way, this Joy Aylor is another female sociopath, a merciless killer without conscious.
What separates me and most people from these true crime story creatures? They live faster and they take more chances, yes. They are more superficial and their values are shallow, yes. But I think the main thing is their insatiable desire for the things of this world. Of course I am speaking now as a fifty-year-old man. When I was younger, perhaps I would have said they were just stupid. But in the final analysis (an analysis well beyond my ken) it may be just a question of a difference in brain chemistry or an hormonal imbalance. I actually believe this more than ever.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2003
My goodness I am going to have to stop reading true crime. True crimes that keeps me so engrossed and inhibit me from getting other things done. I started this book and could not put it down for too long. Even when I was doing other stuff my thoughts were fixated on this novel.
Set in Texas, this novel haunts you until the very last page. When Roxanne Gailunas is found murdered in the bedroom of her Dallas, Richardson house, her husband Dr. Peter Gailunas, and her lover Larry Aylor are the prime suspects. However it is not as simple as it looks, as Detective McGowan goes far beyond the call of duty trying with all his nerve and sinew to make some sense of this obscure and complicated occurrence. There are so many characters involved in this case, it takes over five years before the absolute truth is brought to light. Drug addicts, sociopaths, greedy persons who will do anything including murder for a bit of money are all associated with this case.
With all it's exciting twists and turns, this should be a ral page turner for all of you out there who truly enjoy true crime.You will be kept on your toes with this well written Carton Stowers novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
In 1983 in Richardson, TX, a woman named Rozanne Gailiunas was brutally murdered in her home. A few years thereafter, an attempt was made to kill her onetime boyfriend, Larry Aylor who had at the time of Rozanne’s murder been separated from his wife, Joy.
The story involves a self-involved rich woman, Joy; various conduits to more conduits to amateur hit men; a drug addicted criminal – in both senses of the word – lawyer, Mike Wilson, who along with his girlfriend both abscond from Texas to escape criminal charges; a 10 year police investigation eventually involving the FBI and Interpol; and fugitives in Europe. A more complete plot description is provided on Amazon’s page for the book.

This hugely interesting true crime book is OPEN SECRETS written by Carlton Stowers.
Stowers’ research is massive both in its breadth and depth, and his writing is literate professional, and for the most part reportorial. And the very complicated case with its many twists and turns – suspensefully presented by Stowers – is one any fan of the genre will love.

Stowers occasionally reports conversations and people's reactions to situations that he could not know, but this omniscience is so infrequent that it is a minor annoyance. And while the picture section is excellent showing mug shots of almost everyone even tangentially involved, there is surprisingly no picture of Rozanne Gailiunas, a seemingly obvious inclusion.

I have often been justifiably critical of St. Martin’s Press, an outfit I generally consider to define rush-to-print quality-be-damned slop, but they have a really excellent book here.
I unqualifiedly recommend OPEN SECRETS to true crime aficionados.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 28, 2005
Carlton Stowers has always been one of my favorite true crime writers, and he really delivers with this book. This book and "Careless Whispers" by him are some of my favorite true crime books (and as you can tell by my other reviews I have quite a few favorites). Joy Aylor is a very sick woman who always had to have her way. I do not want to give out too many plot details, you really have to read this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2006
This is a fantastic book on a par with Tom Henderson's "Blood Justice". What a great writer! The relationship between Mike Wilson and Joy could be a book in itself. You will sympathize with the investigators, you'll get to know them and the families involved...I wish there was a book about the trial...the more you know, the more you want to know thanks to Carlton Stowers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2014
The book is slow and once they knew who did the killing at least 1/2 the book was left and I didn't have a desire to know the ins and outs of the trial process.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2013
Reading this after watching a condensed version on tv. There is so much more to this story then an hour televised recreation could possibly cover. I am also excited to find new crime author that knows how to tell a riveting story, even though I knew how it ended. Ann Rule is correct in her praise of Carlton Stowers. Excuse me, I have to find another one of his books...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2013
Purchased this book after reading "Careless Whispers" by same author. This book held my attention and I thought it was well written. A good read for those who like true crime novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2013
I first became aware of the 1983 Richardson, Texas, murder of Rozanne Gailiunas -- found stripped, bound to her bed, and shot through the skull -- on one of the TV crime shows, half watching because I live in Dallas and I never fail to be surprised by some of the eccentric people who also live here.

Carlton Stowers's account is far better than any version ever shown on TV. He is a very fine writer and would be in any genre, but he's picked one where suspense is important and he can always deliver it. To be sure, Dallas provided him with some exceptionally colorful characters, including the murderess herself, whose name I won't reveal here. Suffice it to say that she is very rich and remarkably lovely, the sort of woman one might easily encounter shopping at Neimann's.

This is a 5-star read. Highly recommended. You won't be disappointed.
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