Let me start with gripes: No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us could have used a good editor to avoid repeats, organize the book better, and clean up some stylistic stuff. And the author, could have shown a wider spectrum of victims; she claims (and I believe her) that domestic violence cuts across gender and economic level, but we only see relatively poor women.
That said, she does a great job of showing why victims cannot leave, how law enforcement and social services strain at coordinating a proper response, and also how some batterers can change (with time, and great difficulty). If we made abating domestic violence a national (or international!) priority, we would undoubtedly see massive improvements.
When a serial killer is caught, what happens to his family? A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming shows us how harrowing it is to discover that one’s father killed (and tortured!) many people. Sure, he was a man with a temper, but no one in the family suspected him, and he seemed content to continue his relationship with them as if nothing had happened.
The story could have been edited to make for a much more solid outcome, but the theme is heartbreaking.
The author of Solitary spent over 40 years in the Angola prison of Louisiana, most of it alone in a cell 23 hours a day, and almost all of it for a crime he did not commit. He freely admits that his life pre-prison was mostly spent on the wrong side of the law, but nothing that would send him away for that long, or under such a harsh treatment. Racism was at the center of the prison (just as a very mild example, the guards were called “freemen”) and institutional racism meant that framing an African-American man for murder was swiftly arranged. It’s a miracle that he got out, and as undamaged as he did.
Good Me, Bad Me is a chilling thriller, even more chilling because written by a mental-health nurse, that tells the story of the teenaged daughter of a serial killer, who reported her mother to the police and is temporarily sheltered by her therapists’s family (which seems to be a very bad idea to begin with!) She is bullied in her new school, and she will want some revenge, somehow. I guarantee you will keep reading!
Camino Island is a standard Grisham procedural, complete with the requisite labyrinthine international money transfers we’ve come to expect from him. But the focus is on rare books, book dealers, and a very pleasant bookseller and his wife, who deals in antiques. It’s fun and undemanding, and remarkably non violent, expect for one hapless thief.
The Good Girl unwisely goes home with a stranger who has a contract to kidnap her — and indeed takes her to a remote cabin where they nearly freeze to death, and almost starve. It turns out that there is a big twist to the story, which should make readers happy but it seemed to me to make the whole story wholly unbelievable. Still, the stifling atmosphere of the cabin and the relationship between gaoler and captive make for a gripping story.
The heroine of Final Demand is enjoyably wicked (again!) and spends the first half of the book embezzling away and deceiving her naively sweet husband, all wonderful comedy for the reader. When her shenanigans create real tragedy for real people, the author switches to a moralizing tale that is much less entertaining and not entirely believable. I loved the first half, though…