I read two very different books this week. The first was a non-fiction account of the complex investigations into a series of rapes and assaults in the USA; the second was the third book in a crime series that I have been enjoying over the last few weeks.
Unbelievable by T Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong was quite a compelling read. Here is the blurb:
Two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists tell the riveting true crime story of a teenager charged with lying about having been raped—and the detectives who followed a winding path to arrive at the truth.
On August 11, 2008, eighteen-year-old Marie reported that a masked man broke into her apartment near Seattle, Washington, and raped her. Within days police and even those closest to Marie became suspicious of her story. The police swiftly pivoted and began investigating Marie. Confronted with inconsistencies in her story and the doubts of others, Marie broke down and said her story was a lie—a bid for attention. Police charged Marie with false reporting, and she was branded a liar.
More than two years later, Colorado detective Stacy Galbraith was assigned to investigate a case of sexual assault. Describing the crime to her husband that night, Galbraith learned that the case bore an eerie resemblance to a rape that had taken place months earlier in a nearby town. She joined forces with the detective on that case, Edna Hendershot, and the two soon discovered they were dealing with a serial rapist: a man who photographed his victims, threatening to release the images online, and whose calculated steps to erase all physical evidence suggested he might be a soldier or a cop. Through meticulous police work the detectives would eventually connect the rapist to other attacks in Colorado—and beyond.
Based on investigative files and extensive interviews with the principals, Unbelievable is a serpentine tale of doubt, lies, and a hunt for justice, unveiling the disturbing truth of how sexual assault is investigated today—and the long history of skepticism toward rape victims.
Apparently, the book has been made into a Netflix series, which is a shame for me as we don’t subscribe to that service. It would have been interesting to compare the book with the TV version. Anyway, this is my four star review as posted on Goodreads:
This book was incredibly difficult to read, but was well-worth the effort. It was difficult because it is the true story of the victims of a serial rapist in the USA and the complex investigations involved in reaching justice. Alongside this narrative, the authors also delved into some of the history of American rape cases and methods of investigation, which, to some extent, seem to parallel our own situation in the UK. So many women are not believed when they have been through awful levels of trauma and injury and the police and court system quite often do not seem to step up and achieve what these women deserve.
In places, the book was confusing as it was written with an interweaving of timelines and places. I am not sure whether this technique was helpful or appropriate in a factual account of crimes. The writing is incredibly detailed and shows how much investigation and research has taken place in order to write the book. Not forgetting, of course, the men and women who worked for the large range of agencies who eventually achieved justice!
My second book of the week was Nothing Gold Can Stay by Dana Stabenow (Liam Campbell #03). This is the blurb:
Alaska State Trooper Liam Campbell, newly promoted to corporal, is slowly making a home for himself in the remote town of Newenham. Between DUIs and domestic disputes, life is relatively tranquil, until Campbell’s girlfriend, bush pilot Wyanet Chouinard, delivers a shipment of mail to a remote post office, where she finds the postmistress murdered. The hunt is on for a killer who seems to have vanished into the Bush… Until another victim is found. Chilling connections from the past make the search a matter of life and death.
At first they couldn’t tell she was a woman, she was so covered in snow and frost and mud. Leaves and twigs were caught in hair so lank and matted they couldn’t tell what color it was. Her blue jeans were soaked through. She was wearing tennis shoes, one of which was missing, and the white anklet on that foot was torn and the flesh beneath bleeding.
They were caught motionless in shock. The woman looked up at them and opened her mouth. Her voice was the merest croak of sound. “Help.”
She tried to say more, but couldn’t. “Help,” she said again, and lay her head down on the floor and closed her eyes.
I enjoyed the book as, despite some of the very grim subject matter, I find the series helps me to escape my current worries. The descriptions of the landscape and people of Alaska are really excellent. This is my four star review:
I think that this book is the best in the series so far. Once again, the Alaskan scenery, people and wildlife are essential and so very well depicted. The back stories of the main characters are fleshed out a little more, and interesting stories they are. The actual act of flying relatively small planes also seems to play an important part in the tale. And as for the plot itself, this one had me on the edge of my seat (well, perhaps it was more like on the edge of the mattress as I read in bed!).
I can’t wait to read the next book in the series and I do hope that the author intends to write more. There is her other Kate Shugak books, but, so far, I prefer these ones.
This afternoon, before I started writing this post, I began to read my next book: An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon. To be honest, I am really unsure about the book and may only read a few more pages before putting it aside. You will find out what I decide in next week’s Reading Roundup!
Happy Reading to you all!
Love and best wishes,