Book Review: Fatal Jealousy by Colin McEvoy and Lynn Olanoff

My review: 2 of 5 stars

True crime stories interest me because truth is often stranger than fiction. Also, people are complex and interesting to study from a safe distance like in a book. I follow which reviews books about everything from Sherlock Holmes to serial killers and offers frequent contests as well. Yesterday, they featured a true crime novel. It sounded intriguing, so I purchased it for my NOOK. Here’s the link to the article: Fresh Meat: Fatal Jealousy by Colin McEvoy and Lynn Olanoff
Katherine Tomlinson

At first, I was hooked. The tension was palpable. The authors managed to keep the reader in suspense despite the murderer being obvious from the start. They also conveyed the full horror of the crime without being overly grotesque. But, I wasn’t far into the book when the writers started to lose me. First it was obvious grammatical mistakes that were missed in the editorial process. For example: “Whether Ballard was actually a member the KKK was not immediately clear (p. 48). The “of” is obviously absent and this is but one example of several that I could offer. This is a short book written by two newspaper journalists. Also, I couldn’t escape the feeling that the authors were stretching. Perhaps it was the repetition of facts already mentioned or the odd device of placing people’s thoughts in italics (Did that mean the authors were making these thoughts up? It was hard to know). Many a sentence and even paragraph was devoted to reiterating how horrible this crime was. Indeed it was horrible, but saying so over and over again was redundant and unnecessary. To stretch the story even further, the authors devoted an entire chapter to the War on Drugs and the effect it has had on the prison system. Though interesting, it seemed misplaced in this book about a quadruple homicide. Finally, the authors revealed everything about the murderer, Michael Ballard, from the time of his birth. The victims however were left virtually unknown to the reader except for as they were just prior to death. I wanted to know more about them, so they could be more than just victims of a vicious crime. Still, it was a quick read and somewhat interesting if you are a fan of true crime. I liken it to reading a pretty good magazine article at the doctor’s office. Engrossing enough to pass the time, but easy to put down when your name is called.

Book Review: In the Still of the Night by Ann Rule

In the Still of the Night: The Strange Death of Ronda ReynoldsIn the Still of the Night: The Strange Death of Ronda Reynolds by Ann Rule
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had a difficult time staying with this book and finishing it, although I’m a big fan of Ann Rule. Perhaps I was frustrated by the lack of answers after all these years. If I feel that way, I can’t even imagine what it must be like for the mother of Ronda Reynolds. Because the case has not been resolved, this was not a typical Ann Rule book. I like when she draws clear pictures of all the people involved and takes the reader along as the pieces of the puzzle come together. This case remains murky as do the backgrounds and true character of some of the main players. So although I felt a great deal of empathy towards Ronda Reynold’s strong and resilient mother, I was a little disappointed in the book. Even so, I’m glad Ann Rule wrote it because it may help find justice for Ronda someday. For more information on this case go to, the site that was established by Ronda’s mother, Barb Thompson to keep her daughter’s case alive.

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