Okay, so if any of you know me, you know how I’m totally obsessed with true crime podcasts right now. I even made a post of my favorite podcasts over at my personal blog. (You can read that post here.)
I’ve been really excited to read James Renner’s new true crime book, True Crime Addict, since about March when I got really into the Missing Maura Murray podcast. (Only strengthened from listening to Renner on True Crime Garage.)
I was all ready to go to Barnes & Noble on the release day (May 24) and pick it up. But, lightening struck and I won a free copy on GoodReads (Thanks, St. Martin’s Press and GoodReads)! (To say I was ecstatic is really underselling it.)
After reading Yael Egan’s novel and reviewing it, I was finally ready to move onto Renner’s new release.
Without further ado, here is my review.
TRUE CRIME ADDICT by James Renner
St. Martin’s Press, 2016
What It’s About:
James Renner, a journalist, wanted to dive into a new true crime story. He stumbled upon the case of Maura Murray, a 21-year old woman who’d gone missing under mysterious circumstances in 2004. In this book – part true crime, part memoir – Renner recounts his journey of investigating Maura’s disappearance, his own connection to criminal behavior (relatives), and what he learned about himself along the way.
Sidenote: The book is aptly subtitled, How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray.
While the majority of the book does focus on Maura’s disappearance and Renner’s investigation, there were a lot of interesting tidbits about Renner’s own life, which I found intriguing (and very honest).
If you’re not familiar with the case of Maura Murray, here’s a brief rundown: Maura, a nursing student at UMass, left school in early February 2004. After crashing her car in a snowbank in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, she goes missing. There were a few eye witnesses to the crash, but by the time the police appeared on the scene, Maura was gone.
There are a lot of sub mysteries that surround this, but I’ll let you read the book (or listen to one of the podcasts) to get that part of it.
What I Thought:
I cannot say enough good things about this. It was ah-mazing.
The narrative was extremely fluid and well-explained. Although I knew a lot about the case going into this, it was still so much fun to read about it in one cohesive book. Renner lays out the information in a chronological order for the reader. (This does include personal matters that occur, too.) In true journalistic fashion, he’s able to recount his own beginnings of investigation to where the case stands today (in 2016).
He’s honest about himself. He’s not diluted enough to think he’s the best person ever. And he does show his faults to the readers with personal anecdotes (like when he verbally attacks a judge on his sister’s behalf). It all helps add a picture of Renner as a storyteller, and an investigator. He really did live and breathe this case for 5 years.
He presents the information honestly and without bias. While some readers may see bias, I thought he did a pretty good job of simply laying out the clues and evidence for the reader. It’s up to the reader to really decide what to think.
Overall, I think this is one of the best true crime books I’ve read in a while. It was a quick read. (I could have finished it in a day or so, if I’d given myself the time.) If you’re not familiar with Maura’s case, definitely read this book — then go and listen to the podcasts. (Or, start with the True Crime Garage podcast, since they don’t go into as much detail as the Missing Maura Murray one does.)
I give this two enthusiastic thumbs up for any true crime fan. Go out and buy this. Right now.
I’m also excited to say I have Renner’s first nonfiction true crime book, Amy: My Search for Her Killer, about Amy Mihalejvic on my TBR list.