This is the House. Come on in.

DEATH IN CITY OF LIGHT

 

My actual review is somewhere between a 3 and a 4 but I tend to round up for a generally well written book. The story of Dr. Marcel Petiot and his victims was likely overshadowed in the world at large by the end of the Second World War and the ensuing Nuremberg Trials but in Paris it was a media sensation and his trial had almost a carnival-like atmosphere to it.

During the Nazi Occupation of Paris, Dr. Petiot lured in those vulnerable to Nazi persecution with promises of passage out of the occupied territories and into relative safety. Many of his victims were unsavory underworld sorts whom Petiot were later claimed were collaborators (his defense in court was to claim he was working for the French Resistance) but others were simply frightened Jewish families. Though there is no doubt that Dr. Petiot killed at least 27 and as many as 100 persons, there are still many unanswered questions regarding his case. King’s book does its best to separate documented facts from rumors which flew freely during this time period.

King’s book paints a vivid picture of Paris during the Nazi occupation and it’s aftermath. The atmosphere of fear and suspicion allowed a serial killer to murder with impunity and to come very close to getting away with all of it.

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I’m Holding Out for that Teenage Feeling

eleanor and park

 

I’ve spent half the day trying to properly describe how much I love this book and nothing is doing it justice. This book is such a beautifully realistic depiction of teenage love that I was equal parts nostalgic for those feeling and glad I’m a fully formed adult whose passion has been tempered with wisdom. Rainbow Rowell’s characters are realistically flawed and familiar in a way that makes you identify with them almost immediately.

Eleanor and Park takes place over the course of a school year in Nebraska over the course of a school year in 1986. Eleanor lives in poverty level conditions with her mother, siblings and abusive stepfather. She is forced to wear her limited clothing creatively to disguise the fact that she has very little to wear. Park comes from a relatively well adjusted middle-class family. However he’s quiet and likes punk, new wave and comic books. He’s also one of only two Asian kids in his school (technically he and his brother are half Korean but, as Park points out, he is the only once who looks it). The two are thrown together by chance on the school bus. While they first do their best to studiously ignore each other, they soon form a bond which grows into a deeply romantic relationship. Everything they go through should be incredibly familiar to anyone who’s experienced their first teenage love; the intensity of the feelings, the misunderstandings, the insecurities.

Although the fate of their relationship is given away at the beginning of the book, I won’t spoil anything for you. But if you’re looking for a story with realistic characters that make you care deeply for them I can’t recommend this book enough.

I still haven’t found What I’m Looking For

who killed these girls

 

This is an extremely frustrating book to read. This is not because it’s not a well researched and compellingly written work of true crime. It’s because after 25 years, the brutal murders of 4 young girls in an Austin, Texeas yogurt shop have still not been solved and likely never will.

On Friday, December 6, 1991, 17 year olds Jennifer Harbison and Eliza Thomas were working the closing shift at an I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt (aka ICBY) in Austin. Tagging along with Jennifer were her 15 year old sister Sarah Harbison and Sarah’s 13 year old friend Amy Ayers. The two younger girls had a sleepover planned that night. Sometime right around closing, unknown persons entered the store, subdued the girls, forced them to strip, shot all four of them to death and then set the store on fire to cover their tracks. The murders would rock then (then) sleepy town of Austin, Texas. Despite a great deal of media coverage and a huge public outcry, no suspects were brought to trial until well into the 2000s and those convictions would be later overturned.

There is no one person or event to blame for the lack of results in this case. There is no “ah-ha” moment like those in Making a Murderer. Many little things would contribute to its extremely frustrating outcome. But at the core of the issue was the fact that this complicated and emotional crime was simply too much for what was then a rural Texas town.

A science fiction master’s early work

I have no mouth

 

The best way to describe Harlan Ellison’s prose would be “lyrical.” This short collection of stories varies from from a hopeless, post-apocalyptic landscape to the a contemporary California in an emotional spiral after his divorce. Just describing the plot likely won’t hook you. It’s Ellison’s words that do all the heavy lifting in his stories. This collection of stories was published in the late 1960s and Ellison’s views on women tend to reflect this. But this shouldn’t let it deter you from reading one of the masters of speculative science fiction.