Sunday, July 20, 2008

Book Reviews-Joe McGinnis-"Never Enough" and Ann Rule's "A Fever In the Heart"; The Community Flea Market

Rob Kissel was murdered. Only we know who murdered him; it was that nut of a wife of his. Seems she wanted the local blue collar cable guy who must have been dragging the ground if you get my drift. But who killed Andrew, Rob's brother?

Joe McGinnis dwells on Rob Kissel in this True Crime book "Never Enough". Perhaps McGinnis will regale us True Crime buffs with a book about Andrew Kissel, a loser if ever there was one.

And as you read one "Gabby" Moore burns in agony in the fires of hell. For this man, a nut who actually taught discipline in the form of sports for the young, got himself so obsessed with a woman that all rationality left the man. The result is one death of a father of two, a kind, gentle Morris Blankenberger, as well as the death of Gabby himself. But THAT couldn't have happened to a nicer fellow.

Here's a review of Ann Rule's "A Fever in the Heart".

Finally, just for fun, we visit my community's flea market.

Most remarkable, I sold more of my own books in my own driveway than I ever did in the biggest of venues.

Pic of the Day
Redneck tractor pull

"Never Enough" by Joe McGinniss

It's nice to once in a while turn from my beloved Ann Rule to a different true crime writer. Joe McGinnis is a very good writer with “Fatal Vision”, “Blind Faith” and “Cruel Doubt” to his credit. I’d read at least the novel “Fatal Vision” before but until I opened this novel about the tragic Kissel family I’d forgotten what a good writer McGinniss is.

Rob Kissel and his brother Andrew were wealthy. Only Rob came by his wealth as an investment banker honestly. Brother Andrew’s claim to wealth was more questionable.

Andrew Kissel would not be of much import for this book beyond that of a family member of the victim. Except Andrew Kissel was himself murdered, like his brother Rob. The reader knows who murdered Rob and it was a killer of the most extraordinary loony tunes in-love-with-herself variety of murderess. The reader does not know who killed Rob’s brother Andrew except it wasn’t Rob’s wife Nancy. She was in jail for murdering Rob when Andrew was killed.

Once Is Never Enough Joe McGinnis book

Ron and Nancy Kissel

Joe Mcginnis knows his stuff about retail banking. Or else he did a whole lot of research on the matter as well as life in Hong Kong.

For Nancy, Rob Kissel and their children lived half their lives in Hong Kong. It seems there’s a somewhat segregated segment of Hong Kong society that consists solely of American men immersed in the world of investment banking, their wives and children. They live in almost pristine American colonies in grandiose high rises that are fully self-contained and require little interaction with the Chinese world outside the complex.

Nancy Kissel lived in this rarified world. She also lived in the United States. Nancy Kissel and her children straddled two cultures and two continents. During a recent stay in her American home, Nancy Kissel fell in love with a trailer park two-bit blue collar cable guy.

Yes. It’s almost like a Lifetime movie ain’t it?

Obviously Nancy Kissel is a dingbat not worthy of freedom from jail again, forever and ever. For this woman cold-bloodedly fed her husband killing poison then sat around and waited for Rob Kissel to die.

The rest of the McGinniss book deals with the custody of Rob’s children, what with Rob dead and the fine, fine Nancy in Hong Kong prison. Andrew’s wife, Hayley, tried to get custody of the children, hoping as much for their millions left to them by their dead father as from any maternal instinct. This was not going to happen as Hayley and Andrew were getting a divorce. Beyond this, Hayley was naught but an in-law aunt to those children.

McGinniss mentions the murder of Rob’s brother Andrew as part of the book but Andrew’s true crime, his murderer and the story behind it was not the subject of “Never Enough”.

Nancy Kissel has only herself to blame for her life in prison. She killed her husband and the father of her children for the cable guy! Now she doesn’t have a husband, the cable guy, her children or her lifestyle of luxury she once enjoyed.

Read this book yon True Crime afficiandos. If nothing else you’ll get a real hoot out of this cable guy who knew a good thing when he saw it and how he got out when the getting out was good.

Readers will shed no tears for Nancy Kissel, the idiot.

”A Fever in the Heart” by Ann Rule

So in the book review above we read the story of one tiny, selfish woman who had a husband who loved her, two healthy children, riches beyond compare but hey, she had to have the cable guy, her stupid ruthless self. So she killed her husband mercilessly and lost it all, even that fabulous cable guy who lived in a trailer park.

This book by Ann Rule, “A Fever in the Heart”, is the story of another very small man with no character who lived for today and his own silly obsessions.

Gabby Moore was a sports coach who was beloved by his students. One such former student was Morris Blankenbaker. Morris Blankenbaker was married to Jerilee and they had two children.

Fever in the Heart book cover Ann Rule

Morris and Jerilee Blankenbaker and Gabby Moore

Morris once offered his former coach a place to stay when the coach was going through rough times. Coach Gabby Moore thanked Morris by running off with his wife. Jerilee did divorce Morris to marry Gabby. Only Jerilee realized her mistake soon enough and with a year or her error she left Gabby and went back with Morris.

Gabby Moore never let go of Jerilee.

This true crime is the story of a man obsessed with a woman. A man so obsessed that he murdered a man in cold blood. Only Gabby wasn’t the murderer of Morris Blankenbaker.

No. This thoughtless piece of crap had to further involve those students who loved him by convincing one of them to do the crime. This provided Moore with an alibi when suspicion was cast on him for Blankenbaker’s death.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The student did kill Morris at Gabby’s urging but it wasn’t enough. Jerilee was quite distressed at the death of Morris, her ex-husband and father of her children. So Gabby schemed up this plan to have that same student who shot Morris to shoot him.

Except the plan went awry and Gabby ended up dead. This was not, as one might imagine, the original plan. The original plan as hatched by the evil Gabby, was for his fine self to take a harmless bullet in the upper arm where there would be little harm.

It’s debatable whether Angelo “Tuffy” Pleasant really meant to kill Gabby Moore. All Gabby wanted was a small wound to convince his beloved Jerilee that he had killers out to get him so he could not possibly have been involved in the murder of Morris.

Like I said…right out of Lifetime but true.

Gabby Moore burns in hell even as yon reader peruses this review.

This Rule book is one of her books that includes short stories of other strange and unusual true crimes. There’s a story of a man who pretended to be in college when he was not. Comes the discovery and his wife ends up dead in a faked car crash that almost fooled the police.

There’s a few more intriguing stories, all well told in that Rule way, all mesmerizing, all very sad.

Focus on Book Reviews

Review Ann Rule's "Every Breath You Take"

Shiela Bellush had quadruplets and, unfortunately, two daughters with Allen Blackthorne.

Blackthorne had everything a man could want. But he didn't have Shiela.

So he murdered her and left her babies toddling all about their mother's body.
Review Ann Rule's "Every Breath You Take"
Ann Rule's "Heart Full of Lies" and "Bitter Harvest"

Liysa Northon was featured in Rule's "Heart Full of Lies". Liysa was pretty, intelligent and fortunate enough to live in two homes, one in Hawaii and one in Bend, Oregon. She was married to a Hawaiian Airlines pilot, Chris Northon, and was a talented photographer and writer in her own right.

Dr. Debora Green was a physician married to another physician, a Cardiologist, Dr. Mike Farrar. The couple owned a luxury home in Prairie Village, Kansas.

Both women had beautiful children; Liysa had two precocious boys while Debora had a son and two daughters. Both women wanted their husbands dead. One succeeded, the other gave it a try. Debora Green's house burned down and two of her precious children perished in the flames.

Both of these women are crazy as loons.

Ann Rule's "Heart Full of Lies" and "Bitter Harvest"
Ann Rule's "No Regrets"

A book review as Ann Rule does it again with "No, Regrets".
He piloted mighty boats and lived past 80 years but his own wife ended it all for him.

Ann Rule's "No Regrets"
Ann Rule-"And Never Let Her Go"

And Never Let Her Go" is the true crime story of Thomas Capano, scion of a wealthy Delaware family, lawyer and political insider. It wasn't that long ago that this case was splashed in all the newspapers in this area and I vowed that when someone wrote the book I would look into it immediately. I was delighted that Ann Rule wrote the book.

Ann Rule-"And Never Let Her Go"

Ann Rule "Last Dance, Last Chance"

This book by Ann Rule is unique out of all her novels in that Rule actually got to interview the victim who almost died at the hands of the idiot around who the story is based.

Ann Rule-"Last Dance, Last Chance"

Ann Rule "Kiss Me, Kill Me"

This book is one of Ann's famous true crime "compilations" in that there are several stories compiled into one novel.

The book begins with the story of Sandy Bowman, murdered over 35 years prior to the book's writing. Many of the stories in this book involve crimes that went unsolved for many years to be eventually solved in this era of more modern DNA techniques.

Ann Rule-"Kiss Me, Kill Me"


Ann Rule "Too Late to Say Goodbye"

This book review involved this Blogger again in a fashion that surprised me. For under my "True Crime" headers I'd written about the very fine Barton Corbin and even received an insightful and thankful email from Jennifer Corbin's father for my blogging activity in helping to keep this story alive.

Because Barton Corbin had the worst luck of most any man on earth.

He fell in love, even married, women who seemed to commit suicide all around him.

By Ann Rule, we review "Too Late to Say Goodbye".

"Too Late to Say Goodbye"

"WITNESS-Amber Frey's story."

She did the right thing in turning in the fine Scott Peterson.

Did anyone ever teach this woman the art of birth control?

"WITNESS-Amber Frey's story."
"Tainted Roses"

So here you have it. A truly AWFUL true crime book that I'm bothering to write a review on that readers be warned.

A murderer, Paul Mack...alias Sean Lanier, meets up with a recently divorced woman, sweet talks her into romance and marriage, then is exposed on "America's Most Wanted" to his new wife's horror.

Guess who his wife was? Margie Danielsen.

That's right. The book is written by the "victim" of Sean Lanier and so far as I'm concerned, this woman is a certified idiot.

"Tainted Roses"
The Summer Wind-George Anastasia

Anastasia is a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and attended the trial of Capano. His perspective on the reporting is distant and less personal than Rule?s account. If someone held a gun to my head and only had one choice to read about the nefarious Thomas Capano, I'd suggest they go with the Rule version. Maybe it's a woman thing, but Rule always brings that female insight often lacking in the prose of male true-crime writers. Nonetheless, Anastasia did a fine job and his skill as a writer is quite evident.

The Summer Wind-George Anastasia
"Fatal Analysis" by Dr. Martin Obler and Thomas Clavin

A Book Review of a true crime book "Final Analysis" by Dr. Martin Obler.

It's a good true crime story about a serial killer, his shrink and efforts to stop the killing.

Only thing, although proclaimed to be true, I didn't believe a word of Obler's psychobabble nonsense.

It's almost a sin to classify this book as non-fiction.

"Fatal Analysis" by Dr. Martin Obler and Thomas Clavin
Shattered" by Debra Puglisi Sharp

Also, a Book Review of a book by an author that promised me an interview but she didn't deliver. I read the book anyway, here's the review but I don't think much of people making promises they don't keep.

She was held hostage by a crack-crazed nut for six days, hog-tied and repeatedly raped and tortured until she finally got to the phone to freedom.

It's a compelling book, this "Shattered" by Debra Puglisi Sharp.

Too bad she's not a woman of her word for all her heroism.

Shattered" by Debra Puglisi Sharp
"Unspeakable Acts" by Jan Worthington

A True Crime Book Review of "Unspeakable Acts". This book is more accurately a tome. Half of it could have been deleted. For this tale of two hippie doctors eliciting tales of abuse in a daycare center in the hysteria of the mid-80's is almost entirely fiction.

This is a great study of how the Lamestream Media creates a story from thin air.

"Unspeakable Acts" by Jan Worthington
"Missing Beauty"

A True Crime book review-"Missing Beauty" by Teresa Carpenter, tells the story of a very intelligent scientist who gets caught up in the world of prostitution, drugs...and murder.

"Missing Beauty"
"Unfinished Murder" by James Neff

A book review, "Unfinished Murder" by James Neff. The book title is indicative of a True Crime that is considered by many to be a killing crime not quite complete. He's a serial rapist and this is a story of his life and how he got caught.

"Unfinished Murder" by James Neff

It was never my intention to become an expert on the Jonbenet Ramsey case, but given my complete and total absorption in the two books most recently read following the colon, I must say I'm pretty much up to snuff on all the players, suspects and victim: "Jonbenet" by Detective Steve Thomas; "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town" by Lawrence Schiller.

"Evidence of Love" by John Bloom and Jim Atkinson

I could not put this book down.

For if ever there were two couples so very, very odd while appearing for all the world to be so perfectly normal, it would be the Montgomerys and the Gores of Collin County, Texas.

Then there was the Methodist church and the strange preachers combined with weirdly devoted parishioners and oddball church-sanctioned "marriage counseling" that added to the reader's perception that this book HAD to be fiction; surely churches and normal people don't behave like this.

"Evidence of Love" by John Bloom and Jim Atkinson
"A Wife's Revenge" by Eric Francis

A rather unique book review here. We've got "A Wife's Revenge" by Eric Francis. Coincidentally as I read this book this story of Susan Wright was featured on CBS' "48 Hours".

Thus we have video of this book's subject, a pretty woman who killed her husband in a most heartless and horrific manner.

"A Wife's Revenge"

"The Doctor, The Murder, The Mystery" by Barbara Damato

....the true story of Dr. John Branion murder case.

I remember this case vaguely. It occurred back in 1967 and involved a wealthy doctor and the mysterious shooting of his wife.

The doctor was Dr. John Branion, a wealthy doctor married to Donna Branion. Donna was also from a wealthy medical family.

First things first. The contention of this novel is that Dr. Branion was innocent. Right there I have issues.

" The Doctor, The Murder, The Mystery "

"The Michigan Murders" by Edward Keyes

Here's a True Crime book written in 1976 and it was a bit of a time warp to read a story written so long before the advances in DNA and crime detection that makes investigating murders so much easier in this new century.

Seven women were murdered in Washtenaw county, Michigan, all in the vicinity of the University of Michigan. The perp's name was James Armstrong and he was, like most serial killers, a fellow who looked as all-American as they come.

" The Doctor, The Murder, The Mystery "


- "A Deadly Game...the untold story of the Scott Peterson Investigation" Catherine Crier
-"For Laci"- Sharon Rocha.

Both of the above books give details about the investigation into Laci Peterson's murder by her husband, Scott Peterson.

Catherine Crier's book, however, is a veritable tome with not much new. Rocha's book has details and an insight into Laci that only a mother can provide.

Review of Crier and Rocha's Books on Scott Peterson Case

"Murder in the Heartland" by M. William Phelps

This is a very personal, almost painful review. For it was this Blogger who originally was scheduled to write the story of the very troubled Lisa Montgomery, a woman who cold-bloodedly killed a young mother and ripped her unborn baby from her body.

A very handsome and talented M.William Phelps wrote the story instead, with a minimum of help from me. I did, however, know a few members of Lisa Montgomery's family and this gave me an insight into how Phelps wrote the book, the skewed points of view within the book's covers and the very, very wrong title for the book titled "Murder in the Heartland".

"Murder in the Heartland"

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