Chase Darkness with Me by Billy Jensen: Audiobook Review

 Chase Darkness with Me by Billy Jensen
Release Date: April 11, 2019 by Audible Studios
8 Hours, 19 min & Narrated by Billy Jensen with foreword by Karen Kilgariff
Buy on Audible  

Short Blurb: Journalist Billy Jensen spent 15 years investigating unsolved murders, fighting for the families of victims. Every story he wrote had one thing in common – it didn’t have an ending. The killer was still out there.
Gripping, complex, unforgettable, Chase Darkness with Me is an examination of the evil forces that walk among us, illustrating a novel way to catch those killers, and a true crime narrative unlike any you’ve listened to before.

My Thoughts: If you like true crime, especially in the form of investigative journalism, this audiobook is for you! I was initially drawn to this story because of Billy’s association with Michelle McNamarra in the amazing I’ll Be Gone in the Dark book from 2018. Billy worked closely with Michelle on her Golden State Killer case and after her death he was instrumental in helping to finish and get her book published.

In his new audiobook, Billy tells of how he developed a love of true crime and justice from an early age. he describes some pretty crazy bedtime stories of crimes and criminals that his dad used to share with him. Rather than scaring him, Billy pinpoints those early stories as instilling a fascination and hunger within himself to explore crime and those who commit it

Believe me when I say this is one of the most engaging, insightful audiobooks I’ve ever listened to! Billy goes in depth in how he uses crowdsourcing…think Facebook and Twitter…to catch criminals and it’s absolutely fascinating. The murder of Marcus Gaines that Billy worked on was not only sad and frustrating to hear but incredible in terms of how it turned out. This crowdsourcing feels to me very timely and tremendously important in terms of the possibilites it offers for solving more murders and finding more missing people. In fact, Billy’s discussion of the“digital posse” seemed so accurate for the future of crime and criminal justice.

Told with empathy, compassion and energy, Billy’s dedication and passion for truth and justice came through loud and clear. I highly recommend this audiobook!

Thanks to Allison Weber and Audible for my copy

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THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

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I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d just link back to me I’d so appreciate it.

My PICK this week is:

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Published Jan 2014 by Doubleday

One summer night in 1930, Judge Joseph Crater steps into a New York City cab and is never heard from again. Behind this great man are three women, each with her own tale to tell: Stella, his fashionable wife, the picture of propriety; Maria, their steadfast maid, indebted to the judge; and Ritzi, his showgirl mistress, willing to seize any chance to break out of the chorus line.

As the twisted truth emerges, Ariel Lawhon’s wickedly entertaining debut mystery transports us into the smoky jazz clubs, the seedy backstage dressing rooms, and the shadowy streets beneath the Art Deco skyline.

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Well, I’ve officially began tackling my looming backlist with this read this week and I have to say, I really enjoyed reading something that’s not new or upcoming. Plus, I got out of my comfort zone (somewhat) with historical fiction, although still with a mystery component. I’m a complete sucker for any book that starts off with the premise… so and so was last seen doing ______ and was never heard from again! I should say, I love that premise knowing it’s a true story. So, I jumped into this without googling anything about the case because I just wanted to have this author’s story in my head.

The story takes place in 1930 New York City and alternates with present day snippets with Stella and Jude, a detective on the case. We meet Stella first as she’s with Joe at their vacation house in Maine and right off the bat we discover she’s got Joe’s number as far as his cheating ways and she’s not particularly keen to sit back and let him get away with it. In New York City, we meet Maria, Joe and Stella’s maid as well as a renowed seamstress who’s husband Jude is a NYC police officer who gets assigned to Joe’s case when he goes missing. Webs begin to get weaved when Maria walks in on something at Joe and Stella’s apartment that she really wishes she hadn’t. Finally, there’s Ritzi, a feisty showgirl and Joe’s mistress who’s gotten herself tanged with the likes of a very dangerous gangster. As the story alternates between all 3 women I was left wondering if it could possibly end well for any of them!

I was really invested in the characters, time period, and setting of this book. I thought the author did a fantastic job of piecing together long ago facts and details and imagining how the story might have unfolded as to what happened to Joe. I do, however, think there were several lulls in the story which caused me to start to skim. When it happened several times, I felt that took away a little intensity in terms of the pace but I really have to say that overall, I enjoyed this story! It ended up having a couple surprises that I found interesting and bittersweet as well. If you’re in the mood for a detail oriented historical mystery set in NYC, I say definitely grab this one and give it a try.

HAPPY READING!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere 

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Cathy at Between the Lines

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Noriko at Book Fiend

Rebecca at BoofsBooks

Amy at NovelGossip

Lynne at Fictionophile

Nicki at The Secret Library

 

REVIEW: THE FACT OF A BODY By Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

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Published May 16, 2017 By Flatiron Books

Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes―the moment she hears him speak of his crimes―she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky’s crime.

But another surprise awaits: She wasn’t the only one who saw her life in Ricky’s.

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I’ve read several true crime books in the last couple years and they all seem to have one thing in common for me…they’ve brought me to tears and infiltrated my thoughts in such a way that I couldn’t stop thinking about the people in the stories. This true crime/memoir has been no different. I like to read while on the elliptical and there was a point in my reading where I just had to take a break from this story and switch to a different one. The author’s writing was beautiful and lyrical in a way that I was so fully engaged with the story that when the brutal details of little Jeremy’s murder and then the author’s own heartbreaking story came front and center, it really hit me in a way I wasn’t expecting…hence the needed break.

Once composed, I dived back in because while at times brutal to read, this story is also fascinating, haunting, and illuminating. The author doesn’t just haphazardly toss out details of Jeremy’s murder and Ricky Langley’s life and then switch to her own story. Rather, she weaves the narrative by alternating timelines involving Rickey’s past and her own. While at times the shift between the two was abrupt and sometimes felt that it occurred mid-thought, overall this narrative technique worked very well to tell two separate stories. Let me back up for a minute and tell you what I mean by illuminating and fascinating. I found the author’s discussion of the law in terms of the intricacies of what it means to seek truth and justice, the breakdown of the system (Ricky Langley had 3 trials!), and the inherent problems associated with having shades of gray in a legal system that’s set up to be black and white. In addition, the author examines the very real breakdown of the family and criminal justice system in such a brilliant, “what if” way that, days later, I’m still thinking about…what if Ricky had a different type of childhood...what if that person at the hospital would’ve believed Ricky when he walked in and said he needed help…what if we had harsher sentences for sex offenders like Ricky…what if the author’s own childhood was different…what if her childhood wasn’t shrouded in secrets…what if children’s voices were better heard in their own family as well as our justice system?? Of course, we’ll never know the answers to these “what ifs” and that’s what’s so haunting.

This isn’t an easy read by any means and I would guess some readers may not be able to read about the graphic details of murder and abuse. BUT, this is an important story and one that I’m sure many may see themselves in and will benefit from Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s honesty.

Many thanks to Flatiron Books for my copy. I’m happy to provide an honest review

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW:GETTING LIFE:AN INNOCENT MAN’S 25-YEAR JOURNEY FROM PRISON TO PEACE by Michael Morton. Narrated by Roger Wayne

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GOODREADS BLURB

He spent twenty-five years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He lost his wife, his son, and his freedom. This is the story of how Michael Morton finally got justice—and a second chance at life.

On August 13, 1986, just one day after his thirty-second birthday, Michael Morton went to work at his usual time. By the end of the day, his wife Christine had been savagely bludgeoned to death in the couple’s bed—and the Williamson County Sherriff’s office in Texas wasted no time in pinning her murder on Michael, despite an absolute lack of physical evidence. Michael was swiftly sentenced to life in prison for a crime he had not committed.

My Review

This story is haunting to say the least. Michael Morton went to work one morning and by the afternoon his life, as he knew it, was over. When and how he finds out that his wife Chris has been murdered in their bed, with their three year old son home , is heartbreaking. It’s hard to attribute positive words like fascinating and page turning to such a tragic story but that’s how I would describe the complete railroading and injustice that took place when the local sheriff’s department immediately zeroed in on Michael as the killer. How he was treated, questioned, and then arrested was mind boggling and I listened in a state of bewilderment.

I know I’m being somewhat vague but I don’t want to give away important plot details about the case because there’s so much that happens over the 25 years it took Michael Morton to get justice that you really need to listen, or read, for yourself. This being a memoir we get in depth, first hand accounts from Michael about what happened the day his wife was murdered,  how he felt, and what he was thinking and feeling. We also get his first hand account of life in prison for 25 years and his pursuit of and determination to get to the truth of who really murdered his wife Chris.

While this is a memoir, it’s also a real life mystery because there are questions about the case that the sheriff’s office completely ignored such as: what did Michael’s son who was 3 at the time, and home with his mom, actually see and hear? What about other physical evidence that was found on the property? Will these unanswered questions lead to the real killer? You’ll have to listen or read to find out!

This story caused me to feel so many things while listening…anger, sadness, confusion…it’s all there.  Sometimes, even if the story sounds interesting ,  I’ve found it hard to listen to a book because the narrator’s voice just didn’t work for me. That wasn’t the case with this audiobook, however, because the narrator, Roger Wayne, was fantastic. I recommended this book to my book club and they all read the print version and also loved it,  so either way you “get” this incredible true crime story you won’t be disappointed.

5/5 Stars