In the Name of God
When I purchase any book, but particularly one from an author with a number of works to his/her name, I expect it to be reasonably edited. This one was chock full of distracting errors, from people whose names changed from page to page (as one example, Patrick’s son went from Paul, to Pat, to Paul, to Pat, and back to Paul again), to extraneous commas, misplaced periods, find/replace errors, and others. Even a good run-through with Word’s grammar/spelling check could have found some of these.
The story itself was eye-opening and revealed a hidden world I had very little knowledge of prior to reading the book. I’ve certainly got more knowledge now. However, somewhere between a third and a half of this book was fiction, not true crime. Now, all good true crime authors take liberties to create a more engaging story by re-creating short dialogues and thought patterns. These are generally based on careful interview and often on tapes. Here, the author creates entire sections of internal dialogue and conversation, chapters long, of which he could not possibly have knowledge. No one can remember in that much detail what he or she was thinking or the course of a long conversation, especially years later, to relay it to the writer, and some of it was frankly condescending. The longer it got, and the more tangents the author went off on (history of various locations, for example), the more it bugged me. I’m sure the author could write a great mystery with his gift for dialogue, but that’s not what I thought I was getting.
Towards the end, it also got repetitive. I found myself saying, “Yes, I know. You’ve already told me that twice before,” on more than one occasion. Once again, a good edit could have fixed those issues. I also didn’t know, or didn’t remember, who the author was or how he was connected to the crimes in question when he suddenly appeared towards the end of the book. All at once there were sections narrated by ‘I’ instead of he/she/they. Here, some introductory detail would have been nice.
All in all a fascinating subject and a good writer, but with issues that bugged me too much to rate the book any higher.