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Bodies of Evidence (True Crime Collection): From the Case Files of Notorious USA (Volume 1) Paperback – December 1, 2013
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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About the Author
GREGG OLSEN IS THE NEW YORK TIMES, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of twenty books, both true crime and fiction, including Abandoned Prayers, Closer than Blood, A Twisted Faith, Starvation Heights, and If Loving You Is Wrong. He appears frequently on Dateline NBC, NPR, Good Morning America, The Early Show, FOX News; CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition, Extra, Access Hollywood, Snapped, Deadly Women, and A&E's Biography. REBECCA MORRIS IS A VETERAN JOURNALIST and the author of Ted and Ann – The Mystery of a Missing Child and Her Neighbor Ted Bundy. Her writing has appeared in People, Entertainment Weekly, New York Newsday, The Seattle Times, The Oregonian and many other publications. She worked in broadcast journalism in New York.
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But I purchased BOE anyways, mostly because I lived in the increasingly unfriendly Seattle area for 30 years, before moving to the always unfriendly Bay Area. And I wanted to get an overview of some famous crimes so that, just maybe, I could find a story that was interesting enough to buy a "real" book about some criminal. And I found a story with "Christian Longo: the Narcissist," a chapter in the Notorious Oregon section of BOE.
I already knew a bit about Mr. Longo's crimes, as I watched a documentary about him. But I also happened to screen the movie "True Story" (TS) a couple of years ago, which was adapted from the book of the same name written by Michael Finkel. If you know anything about the story, you know that Mr. Longo flew to Cancun after killing his entire family and then assumed the identity of Mr. Finkel, mostly because Mr. Longo secretly wanted to be a writer, knew some of Mr. Finkel's work, and figured that Mr. Finkel wasn't well known so therefore people would not likely realize the deception. I actually think that the relationship between Mr. Longo and Mr. Finkel is more interesting than the one between Ann Rule and Ted Bundy, since Mr. Finkel and Mr. Longo actually spent more direct time communicating than the other odd couple.
So I just bought the book TS in the last few days and am about halfway through. Suffice it to say, it is a very strong read as Mr. Finkel is obviously a very strong writer. After all, he worked for the New York Times, and no one gets the privilege of writing for that newspaper without having some pretty impressive chops. Well, at least Mr. Finkel worked for the Times before he was fired for manufacturing a story about a boy in Africa, which creates an interesting twist: both Mr. Finkel and Mr. Longo got themselves into a whole lot of trouble by lying. Naturally, it could be easilty argued that Mr. Longo's lies were much worse than Mr. Finkel's, however.
So BOE led me to another book, one that is very good, and for that I am grateful. But this book does have it's moments as well, covering many horrific stories, including the murder of Shasta and Dylan's family in Idaho and the kidnapping of the two siblings. In BOE, Mr. Olsen does write something like "I'm against the death penalty in general," but if you don't think that Joseph Duncan III deserves to die for his heinous crimes, well, I would say you have more than a screw loose. Mr. Olsen does write somewhere in the book that there is a criminal somewhere that he doesn't mind sitting on Death Row however -- I can't remember who offhand -- so maybe Mr. Olsen agrees with me that Mr. Duncan should die. Only Mr. Olsen knows his own position on this case, though.
I'll go with a mild recommendation on "Body of Evidence," since it just might lead you to another book about some criminal that gives more detail. But if you do read this one, and have seen "Pet Detective," you just might say to yourself, "Finkel is Longo, and Longo is Finkel!"
Plus, there's no closure on the story. We get convictions but no revelations via a confession from anybody that would tell us exactly how and why. There's only forensics and character study.
The book / story deserved to be written, but it could have had 1/3 trimmed.