Friday Night Frights

Friday is music to my ears!

It’s been a long week and I am glad to be sitting in this very spot (on my front porch) writing this post to all of you.

This blog is going in to its fifth month, which is hard for me to believe! I’m not sure what my expectations were when I started out. I knew, if anything, I wanted to be consistent with my posts and so far that has worked out. I’ve been thinking about what my next set of goals will be. I’m not in a hurry, just taking it a week at a time.

Today ends this week’s true crime theme.

{ A quick recap of this week’s books }

Monday: The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

Wednesday: My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLouche Williams

Thursday: We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver and A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold (SOSN)

In keeping with the theme of true crime and also with my normal Friday post of a book, a drink, and a dessert, I will get to the book without further ado.

The Book:

American Predator by Maureen Callahan,299 pages, Published by Viking, July 2019.

AP is about serial killer Israel Keyes. I had never even heard his name until a few months ago. He and his criminal history was touched on in The Killer Across the Table by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker, which is a great, great book.

I wasn’t sure when I’d get a chance to read AP because it was a newer book. My library still doesn’t have it available in Kindle format. So it wasn’t even on my radar to post for this week’s theme. Anyway, early last week I stopped in to my library, because I just often do (not because I need books or anything, I just love it there) and there sitting so beautifully on top of the non-fiction new release shelf was American Predator. I snatched that baby right up. It was like winning the lottery, except without the money part.

I couldn’t help but start reading it right away. It was hard to put this book down. Israel Keyes is a maniac, but a low key maniac. He was just brought to justice in 2012.

One of his MOs were “kill kits”, which he buried all over the U.S. These kits contained body disposal tools, guns, ammo, money, and other weird shit. Beside the fact the even “creating” a “kill kit” is weird shit in itself.

Before he was caught and over the course of roughly fourteen years Keyes would fly to a random city, rent a car to drive a thousand miles to the location of one of his “kill kits”, abduct someone in broad daylight, kill them and dispose of their body(s), then fly back home to his girlfriend and young daughter in Alaska.

It was only after he was caught in 2012, which he almost got away with, that his history of other killings came to light. He committed all of these murders undetected for over a decade.

It’s really interesting when something or someone like this comes to light. Most everyone has heard of Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and BTK, but who the heck is Israel Keyes? How is this not all over the news? This book goes in to that, so I won’t spoil it for you.

When the author, Maureen Callahan first heard of this unheard of killer she was instantly intrigued. This project of learning how Keyes was ultimately caught by the FBI and what it means that a killer like Keyes even exists consumed Callahan for several years.

I won’t give you any more info, but if you enjoy true crime, GO. READ. THIS. BOOK (Stacy, I’m talking to you!) .

The Dessert:

These are Keto Pumpkin Cookies and this is my first time making them. I found this recipe on Pinterest and tweaked it a little. They are pretty dang good.

The recipe is below:

Set oven to 350 degrees

Cookies:

Mix 8oz (1 block) and 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) in a bowl (I softened in the micro for a few sec). I also used a hand mixer.

Then add:

1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree

1/2 cup stevia

2 eggs

2/3 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (which is just cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice all mixed together)

1/2 tsp salt

A splash or 3 of pumpkin pie praline sugar-free syrup (Jordan’s Skinny Syrups- I order them from skinnymixes.com or usually they are available at HomeGood stores)

A small handful of chopped walnuts

Mix all of this together. Spoon on to parchment paper-lined baking sheets and cook for 18 min.

Let them cool.

While they are cooking, you can prepare the icing.

Icing:

8 oz cream cheese

1/4 cup stevia

Softened cream cheese, then mix in stevia.

Spread on to cookies once they have cooled a bit. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice or with plain cinnamon.

Then, enjoy!

The Drink:

I think the name, 19 Crimes kind of says it all. But just in case, it’s a a red blend from California. I’ve tried this one, although it’s been awhile. It’s a delicious wine that pairs well with some bloody good Keto Pumpkin Cookies and a little bit of American Predator on the side.

Cheers!

PS. New theme coming up next week!

“I have been two people for the last fourteen years.” -Israel Keyes

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Something Old, Something New: True Crime

It’s been a week or two since an installment of Something Old, Something New (SOSN) has been posted. The way this works is simple. Something Old is a book I’ve read and Something New is one I haven’t.

When I was selecting the books for my True Crime week, I came across two books that I felt would be perfect for this genre and SOSN.

With one slight caveat: my Something Old is fiction. But, my dear bookworms, it (sadly and most horrifyingly) could very well be non-fiction. So I went ahead and added it to the mix.

You can be the judge of whether you think it was an appropriate choice.

Something Old:

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver is a book I read several years ago and continues to remain on my top ten list of favorite books. No one had recommended this book to me, but rather I kept seeing it at my local used book shop. Every time I came across this book I would find myself thinking that it had a strange title. I can’t really explain why the title is strange to me, maybe because it seems so plain. I don’t know.

One day I finally grabbed it and stuck in my stack to buy. I didn’t read it right away either. I had never read anything by Lionel Shriver and totally assumed Lionel was a man (the only Lionel I had ever heard of has a last name of Richie), but he is actually a she. It doesn’t matter in the whole scheme of things, just a little food for thought (that, and you can correctly refer to LS as a she if this book were to ever come up in conversation. You’re welcome).

More time went by. One afternoon I was looking at stack of unread books and WNTTAK just kind of slightly screamed, Read me right now. Since I don’t like being screamed at, even when it’s silent screaming (fyi: only books know how to silently scream), I said, Ok, you’ve made your point, I’ll read you right now.

This book is a million things.

You know right from the start that Kevin is in prison because he has killed seven of his high-school classmates and two others right before his sixteenth birthday.

Much of this book is in the form of letters from Kevin’s mother Eva, to her estranged husband, Franklin.

The story opens in the present but revisits the past before Kevin’s birth and begins the rest of the story from that beginning. The rest of the book goes back and forth between those two time periods.

Eva is a complicated woman. I think many may not like her, and some may even vilify her. I found her quite genuine and honest with her feelings, and if for that reason alone, I like her. Even if she isn’t/wasn’t the most maternal, she never tries to hide that fact. She questioned having children from the very beginning and in my opinion was never a hundred percent for it. But having children is one of those things you can’t compromise on, you have them or you don’t. I do feel that she loved/loves Kevin, but people show love in different ways. Sometimes the recipient of that love doesn’t or can’t feel that love and of course there are bound to be consequences. But you can’t know-no one can know how each person will ultimately turn out. There isn’t only one right way to parent well. Eva openly wonders in these letters to Franklin if her thoughts regarding having/not having children were passed on to her child while she was pregnant, this having a negative effect on him.

This book is such a perfect example of nature versus nurture. Neither can be solely to blame. There are some disturbing things that Kevin does in the course of this story, when he is really young, that to me, seems like his evilness was there from the start. But if someone is more prone to be evil or act criminally does that mean nothing can change that? What do you think?

Something New:

My Something New is A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold. Her son Dylan Klebold, along with Eric Harris were the two boys responsible for the thirteen killings and wounding twenty-four people at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in 1999 before killing themselves.

“For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?” (From back cover)

These are, unfortunately such pertinent books in today’s world. We live in a culture where school-aged children pick up weapons and take the lives of those around them in an instant.

Years and years ago, this didn’t happen in our schools, now it’s become almost a rampant epidemic. This isn’t a liberal or conservative issue and I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all solution.

Are the majority of morals that bad at home versus years ago? Are children not disciplined appropriately, we know they aren’t at school, because school teachers and administrator’s hands are tied, afraid they will be sued if a child is looked at the wrong way. Is it because so many children are being raised by grandparents who are tired and shouldn’t be saddled with this responsibility? Are these even the right questions to ask- I have no idea. And if these aren’t the right questions, what hope is there in finding the right answers?

My intentions are not to sound hopeless, but rather to continually ask questions in a world that is rapidly changing. How do we teach our children answers we don’t have as adults?

“In a country that doesn’t discriminate between fame and infamy, the latter presents itself as plainly more achievable.”

-Lionel Shriver, WNTTAK

“Children live in the same world we do. To kid ourselves that we can shelter them from it isn’t just naive it’s a vanity.”

-Lionel Shriver, WNTTAK

Where Do Monsters Lurk?

My interest in true crime books goes way back. I’m thinking I was in junior high when I was introduced to this genre via a book written by Ann Rule.

To this day I have read all of her books or close to it. Sadly she passed away a few years ago so there will not be any new books. Ann Rule was a policewoman before she became an author, which only added to the authenticity of her writing. Although the subjects and associated people she wrote about were horrifying, her books were not gratuitously disgusting or over the top. Her books are well thought out and well researched. Rule’s presence within this genre is sadly missed.

Thinking about this week I wanted to cover a good variety of true crime books for you. Typically murder comes to mind when I think about this genre, but the word crime covers a multitude of acts. Learning about the inner-workings of the minds of criminals is fascinating to me. The age-old debate of nature vs. nurture will only continue to be examined. Are people born with certain genes that allow them to be more susceptible to committing these acts-or does an experience cause them to snap? Personally, I believe it’s both.

What do you think?

Today’s Book:

I read The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi a few years back. I can’t remember if it was recommended or if I just picked it up because it sounded interesting.

This story is an incredible one.

Imagine getting the chance to live in another country that you has always dreamed of. This is exactly the chance that Douglas Preston and his family were able to do when they moved from the U.S.A. to Florence, Italy.

After getting settled in their farmhouse in Florence, Preston gets the chance to meet up with the famous journalist, Mario Spezi.

As the two get to know each other Spezi shares some interesting information with Preston. The olive grove next to Preston’s new home was the scene of a horrible double murder. These murders were committed by the “most infamous figure in Italian history-the Monster of Florence (back cover).”

Preston is fascinated by this information. Of all places he and his family could have found a house- the one they choose has such a terrible story right next door.

He and Spezi begin their own investigation in to this monster who killed fourteen people, but was never caught.

This is the true story of their search to find and confront the man they believe is responsible for these crimes.

In the midst of their search, you learn about the city’s own bloody history. As the two men become more and more involved in this hunt, they actually become targets of a crazy police investigation.

If you enjoy true crime or even just have an interest in history, I think you will enjoy this book. It’s a little over three hundred pages, but is quite fast-paced.

This is a book I’ve kept after finishing for two reasons. I not only found it to be such a great read, but also I wanted to be reminded to recommend it to others who like this genre.

Oh-to answer the question asked in the title:

Where do monsters lurk?

Everywhere, my dears. So watch your step.

More to come this week!

“We all have a monster within; the difference is in degree, not in kind.”

-Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi, The Monster of Florence