The Murder House by James Patterson and David Ellis

Hi again, bibliophiles!

Hope everyone has been enjoying a beautiful and warm summer! The Murder House by James Patterson and David Ellis is definitely a summer read so it should fit right in with the season. Definitely a beach read. Here’s a quick synopsis:

It has an ocean-front view, a private beach–and a deadly secret that won’t stay buried.

No. 7 Ocean Drive is a gorgeous, multi-million-dollar beachfront estate in the Hamptons, where money and privilege know no bounds. But its beautiful gothic exterior hides a horrific past: it was the scene of a series of depraved killings that have never been solved. Neglected, empty, and rumored to be cursed, it’s known as the Murder House, and locals keep their distance.

Detective Jenna Murphy used to consider herself a local, but she hasn’t been back since she was a girl. Trying to escape her troubled past and rehabilitate a career on the rocks, the former New York City cop hardly expects her lush and wealthy surroundings to be a hotbed of grisly depravity. But when a Hollywood power broker and his mistress are found dead in the abandoned Murder House, the gruesome crime scene rivals anything Jenna experienced in Manhattan. And what at first seems like an open and shut case turns out to have as many shocking secrets as the Murder House itself, as Jenna quickly realizes that the mansion’s history is much darker than even the town’s most salacious gossips could have imagined. As more bodies surface, and the secret that Jenna has tried desperately to escape closes in on her, she must risk her own life to expose the truth–before the Murder House claims another victim.

A page-turner? Definitely.
A gruesome thriller? Absolutely.
A twist ending? Kinda, but about two-thirds of the way through, I caught on and saw it coming.

This novel was by no means a 5-star, spectacular read. It’s not worth running out and buying, BUT if you know someone that can lend you a copy or if you’d like to grab it from the library, it is worth the reading time. OR if you’re looking for a quick read with minimal mental investment required, this is for you!

That’s about all I have for this on. Until next time, bibliophiles….

Cell by Stephen King

Hello once more bibliophiles!

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you’ll realize that I really do jump around in all different genres of novels. From Mindy Kaling to Harry Potter to Outlander and now to Stephen King. I just love ’em all!

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I just finished listening to Cell by Stephen King. I’m definitely a fan of Stephen King’s work, especially Dreamcatcher and the ever-popular It. When I was younger I used to read WAY more horror. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more of a baby I guess. What’s that all about?

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Anyways, the premise of Cell is that one tragic day, a “pulse” is sent out through all cell phones, instantly driving anyone on them crazy and murderous. The “normies” (normal people) struggle to survive in a drastically deteriorating world. Narrated from the point of view of Clay, a middle-aged man who collects a rag-tag bunch of sidekicks, the story unfolds at a rather abrupt pace as you uncover the secrets behind the “pulse”. Essentially, the “phone-crazies” begin to reboot into some semblance of humanity, minus guilt, reasoning, love …  basically without any of the good feelings. On the positive side (well, positive for them, not the “normies”), they get telepathy, mind control, and levitation. I don’t know, sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

If you like King’s work, then of course you’ll probably love Cell. If you’ve never tried King, this is as good a place as any to start. In fact, it may be a bit easier to swallow than some of his crazier stuff. But be warned, this book is not for the faint-hearted. While I love King’s unique style of description and narration, the visuals can sometimes be a little TOO visual. Don’t get me wrong, I usually enjoy works that contain violence. (Be careful reading here: I don’t enjoy the violence, usually just the story.) I mean I’m a hard-core Game of Thrones fan. BUT this book starts off fast and before I knew what was happening, I was picturing a guy tearing a dog’s ear off with his teeth! (I wouldn’t consider that much of a spoiler.) (By the way, am I using a lot of parentheses today? I am, aren’t I?)

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(Well, my brain-eyes anyways. I’m not making sense here. Let’s move on.)

So final recommendations: if you enjoy psychological thrillers, horror stories, or King’s work in general, go grab Cell!

Until next time (which should be soon because I’m almost done with Voyager), bibliophiles! (Damn, there are the parentheses again!)

Compulsion: A Novel Part #2

Hello again bibliophiles!

I just returned from a pleasant vacation despite Hurricane Joaquin’s best attempts to derail it! I had a wonderful time relaxing by the pool, engaging in tourist-y adventures, and of course, reading!

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To the subject, I finished Compulsion: A Novel by Meyer Levin. Essentially the last half of the book details the arrest and trial of Judd Steiner and Artie Straus. As I mentioned in the previous post about Compulsion, you know from the beginning that Judd and Artie will be found guilty and sent to prison. The beauty of the book came in observing everything unfold. As much as Judd and Artie believed they were superior specimens and intelligent above all others, they made infantile mistakes that led to their arrest. It is quite obvious that they suffer from some mental abnormalities, however they are never clearly diagnosed.

Ultimately, Compulsion – okay, well really the actual murder and trial back in 1924 – raises a host of questions about human nature, free will, mental health in relation to crime, and responsibility. In fact, the novel itself is quite controversial. Meyer Levin has been accused of romanticizing the murderers because his approach to describing them rejects the notion that they are only one-dimensional, evil killers. Rather, he approaches them in a holistic, humane way. Yet the public is still so angered by the murder of over ninety years ago that they would rather believe the real murderers (Nathan Leopold, Jr. and Richard Loeb) are sadistic and cruel instead of considering them as people with mental health issues.

Although we now know phrenology is a pseudo-science, at least they were making an attempt to study Leob's and Leopold's mental state.
Although we now know phrenology is a pseudo-science, at least they were making an attempt to study Leob’s and Leopold’s mental state.

PAUSE. Everyone put your pitchforks and torches away. I’m not condoning the murder in anyway and neither was Levin. Regardless of their mental health, I do believe the murderers were responsible for their actions. However, the point that the book tries to make, and the point that I’m trying to reiterate here, is that things are rarely black-and-white. There are so many dimensions to people that we can’t paint them one color. While some people are happy to condemn a criminal, that’s not enough. We should be striving to understand people; what makes them who they are and what drives them to do the things they do. Okay, I admit it: this may be a sore spot for me since my degree is in Psychology.

That is all! This book is done. While I was away I also read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling so be sure to check out that post!

Compulsion: A Novel (But Also What I Feel to Keep Reading…)

Compulsion: A Novel by Meyer Levin has completely sucked me in. I am currently about half-way through the 456-page book. It is based on the infamous Leopold and Loeb case of 1924 in Chicago where two wealthy young men, Nathan Leopold, Jr. and Richard Loeb, murdered 14-year-old Robert Franks.

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Often referred to as the crime of the century, the Leopold and Loeb case opened people’s eyes to the growing violence in Chicago. Meyer Levin was actually a budding reporter at the time and was involved in the case as it unfolded. Years later, he wrote Compulsion going back in time to relive the case.

Millionärssöhne als lebenslängliche Zuchthäusler Die amerikanischen Millionärssöhne Natahn Leopold (oben) und Richard Loeb (unten), welche vor 6 Jahren den Sohn des amerikanischen Millionärs Frank aus Sensationslust ermordeten und zu lebenslänglichen Zuchthausstrafen verurteilt wurden. Die Eltern der jugendlichen Mörder versuchen seit Jahren unter Aufwendung großer Geldmittel unter Aufrollung eines Riesenprozesses ihre Kinder freizubekommen

However, Compulsion isn’t merely a repetition of facts. Instead, it is a fictionalized account of the case written from different perspectives, including those of the murderers. Names have been changed and gaps have been filled. What I find particularly intriguing is that this book isn’t like other murder mysteries. Rather, you know from the start who killed Paulie Kessler (the fictionalized Robert Franks) and you know that Judd Steiner and Artie Straus will eventually be caught. Still, it’s such a journey as you follow along how they planned the murder, how they were caught, and the psychology behind it all.

To be continued …