Tiger Wars The shocking story of Joe Exotic, the Tiger King vs Carole Baskin by Al Cimino

A True-Crime biography 

No one would argue that March 2020 is a month that would probably go down in world history, and for two reasons. Netflix released the mighty true-crime mini series Tiger King, and a lethal respiratory pandemic gripped the world. The latter is nothing to joke about of course but the smash-hit Netflix docu-series has only added more eccentricity and downright weirdness to the rather bizarre year we are all experiencing. The true crime true story of the rise and fall of this eccentric, gay, cowboy, redneck, faux country singer Joe ‘Exotic’ Schreibvogel has to be watched to be believed. 

If you are unfamiliar with this ridiculously crazy story of murder for hire, suicide, embezzlement, & the atrocious way middle America treats wild animals, then this book is probably a good start. However, if you have seen it (like 34 million of us) the only real highlights are the un-aired court case itself, that is transcribed in detail, and offers a good insight into the true character of Joe Exotic and his lesser reported nefarious activities. Other than that, it offers a lot less than the TV series gave us and is essentially just a handy guide to the 2020 global TV phenomenon.

Although this analytic write-up, is obviously well researched, it's a book that's devoid of any personality from the author, offers no opinions, narrative, nor otherwise, and in fact could have been written by anybody. I'm not even 100% sure this is official or officiated with the TV show, itself? Maybe the author is seeking a quick buck off the back of the tiger king TV success story. An ethos I'm sure Joe Exotic himself would agree with! 


The Killer Across The Table by John E Douglas & Mark Olshaker

Nearly all serial killers believe their crimes are justified or at least explainable, a case of extreme narcissism at its cause' explains FBI profiler/best-selling author John E. Douglas in his latest work 'The Killer Across The Table' 

Douglas delves deep into the lives and crimes of four of the most disturbing and complex predatory killers he’s encountered, offering never-before-revealed details about his profiling process and divulging the strategies used to crack some of these most challenging of cases. It's a fascinating insight into the criminal profiler's illustrious career interviewing (from across a table in various US criminal institutions) some of America's most nefarious and narcissistic criminal masterminds. 

Over the past few years, true crime has really come to the fore and is probably more popular than ever, and you could be forgiven for wondering why that is? From the incredible Mindhunter series, through to Netflix worldwide smash hits Making a Murderer and Tiger King, to podcasts, magazines, and books, the appetite (a lot like these serial killers) is truly ravenous. 

In this latest book, John E Douglas takes us through several cases of child killers, serial killers, single murders, and medical murders using his first-hand knowledge of USA serial killers to examine in-depth, how the minds of these depraved individuals work, and what society can learn from them. 

Douglas takes a mild-mannered and at times sympathetic approach in interviews to sway the killer's psyche into opening up, giving them control and utilising reverse psychology to gain an understanding into the murderous modus operandi and behavioural traits.
Is it nature v nurture or are people 'born to kill'? We don't get a definitive answer from this book (or any true crime book for that matter) so I think that is where the fascination with true crime most certainly lies (like a dead body, for example)...

Unsolved London Murders; the 1920s 1930s by Jonathan Oates

Unsolved London Murders; the 1920s 1930s by Dr Jonathan Oates

Publish Date- 30th of August 2020

Wharncliffe Books // Pen and Sword 

Unsolved London Murders is a compendium of 20 true crime stories of ALL unsolved murders across London in the 20s and 30s in all of their macabre horror, mystery and real-life barbarism.

Meticulously researched, the prose is strong, readable, and incredibly descriptive. All cases are unsolved and the murders described vary in modus operandi, reasoning, and at times, brutality.  From prostitutes, a heinous child murderer, the murder of London landlady, and a potential serial killer, the 20 cases featured also include post mortems, witness statements, police procedurals of the time, and a selection of location images. Overall this is an enjoyable look at murders committed during those brief intermittent war years.

Often delving into London’s seedy underbelly it is interesting to note that crimes of this nature did happen during the (often professed) more innocent times, and it’s an easy and fascinating read overall.


Handle with Care - by Rachel Hearson

'Handle with Care' is a timely release when all things are considered. Published by mirror group, this professional confessional is a refreshing first-person memoir of 40 plus years working as a health visitor in a bureaucratic, cash-starved, and often forgotten, NHS.

Before clapping on a Thursday and priority shopping at supermarkets, this integral part of the healthcare profession was often ridiculed and not applauded like it is today.

From midwifery school to eventual health care visits, and raising a family herself, Rachel gives a startlingly refreshing and heartfelt life story that is as much social history document as it is a diagnostic on social health in the 20th century.

Rachel is a hard-working Mum who's passionate about her cases and delivers an intelligently warm narrative which comes across well in this warts and all account. Where it may lack in real life case-by-case examples of practising healthcare ( a lot of personal life stories here) the cases that are discussed offer an insightful and often thought-provoking look at life on the frontline of our ever-changing and politically charged healthcare services. Our only criticism would be that the impassioned covid19 epilogue should have been put at the start of this book - very inspiring stuff!

HANDLE WITH CARE  is published by mirror books on 11-06-2020




The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

John Murray Press

Genre-Historical Fiction

Publishes-02 June 2020

History has a tremendous knack of repeating itself, reminding us of humanities foibles and how the past fundamentally affects the future, for a book blog, it would be an understatement to say that books are important. For us, they are the fabric of life and ‘the Paris library’ is a book that carries that message. A journey that begins in Paris at the heart of the second world war, during the height of the cold war in 1980's America. Odile Souchet is a young Parisian girl obsessed with books, literature, and libraries. In 1939 she's offered a job at the (real-life) American Library of Paris. A thriving community of subscribers, book lovers, and studious bookish staff, she’s in her element. Away from work, her twin brother is embroiled in the political upheaval of pre-war Europe and eventually signs up as war breaks-out. Odile’s father is a police commissioner and is constantly seeking a suitor for his daughter. In 1980s America, Lily is a young teenager who’s mother dies suddenly. Seeking some sort of matriarchal comfort, she forms a kinship with her neighbour Odile, a Parisian exile who has lived in the states since the end of the second world war. At its core, this is a fictional story (based on true accounts) of the American Library of Paris during the terror of second world war. As the paranoia, espionage, insecurity and terror of Hitlers Third Reich descends on Paris, the library subscribers seek comfort in books, with Odile and the staff battle to keep the library open, fighting antisemitism, and the personal battles at the heart of Parisian wartime life. The bulk of this book is told through Odile's eyes, and how the war affects her family, her friends, and relationships. Life in 1980's America is mentioned fleetingly and although entertaining, the real heart of this book, are books themselves, and Odile's passion for literature, the history of the American Library in Paris, and as a historical document accounting life during the second world war, its a fascinating, entertaining, heartfelt, and important piece of writing. Meticulously researched, the prose is frighteningly good and an immediate comparison would be ‘house of dolls’ by Ka-tzetnik 135633

Learn more about the book here

Codename Madeleine by Arthur J Magida

Pub Date: 10 July 2020
publisher; W. W. Norton & Company

Codename Madeleine by Arthur J. Magida is a historical non-fiction biography of female WWII radio operative Noor Inayat Khan. From her privileged childhood living in a Sufi commune in Paris, Noor is described as a prodigious child, gifted at literature, music, and close to her father, and is schooled in the Islamic teachings of (peaceful Islamic mysticism) Sufi. Her father, Inayat khan is a Gandhi-Esque musician, (and descendent of Indian royalty) who tours Europe and America throughout her childhood and early adulthood. At her father's death, Europe collapses into war, and although it's never quite explained, the creatively gifted Noor trains to be a radio operative and code breaker for England’s war effort.

Recruited by the Secret Services to be a code-breaking spy, Noor is soon the only SOE (special operations executive) operative working for England and based in Paris. Flitting from secret hideouts, brazen liaisons with the enemy, secret messages to England, and illicit dispatches soon follow. Due to her (at times) insufficient spy skills, Noor is soon secretly tracked by the Gestapo and captured. In fairness, this is largely due to being double-crossed by an acquaintance, but still, the book does little to dismiss the suggestion that her spy skills weren't exactly top-notch. After a botched escape attempt, Noor is then shipped off to a POW camp in the depths of Nazi Germany. Noor was eventually executed at the infamous Dachau concentration camp in 1944 alongside 3 other females.

Arthur J Madiga writes a fascinating tale of intrigue, espionage, botched spy rings, & heinous war crimes. At the centre of it all, Noor’s story is told with great care, historical fact, and is undoubtedly a homage to her work as a spy who's work was directly linked to the success of the D-Day landings, and it's surprising that Noor isn't more well known within the UK’s national conscience.

Having featured in a recent episode of BBC SCI-FI series DOCTOR WHO, I knew the name but didn't know her story. Arthur J Magida’s superb account of Noor’s life is a compelling read, at times sketchy, but as historical novels go, I rather enjoyed it. I feel that we all should know a little bit more about this war hero! An excellent read. 8/10

I Made a Mistake by Jane Corry

Pub Date: 28 May 2020
Published by Penguin 

Deception. deceit.lies and intrigue. Human behaviour, mistrust, childhood trauma; 'I made a mistake' covers the lot. What starts as a seemingly normal story about a workaholic married mother of two engaging in a one-night stand with a childhood sweetheart, quickly turns into an engaging unputdownable family saga.

Unexplained, to begin with, the story actually spans two generations, and tells two stories, that meet in the middle, and (catastrophically ) come together a\t the end of the book, as a web of lies if unwoven and untangled. We end with a resolution of sorts but nothing will ever be the same again. Sounds intricate, doesn't it? It very much is, but, it's written so well that reading Poppy Page's life come crashing down through one 'mistake', and one us married types could easily make, is an incredibly good read. It's also surprisingly dark.

What makes this novel work so well is that fact that the protagonist Poppy, is immediately recognisable as being entirely infallible, successful, with her head above water. Underneath the water, however, it's a different story. The 'straw that broke the camel's back' is probably the best idiom I can muster, maybe sometimes it's worth breaking?

As escapism goes, we need it Now more than ever.

I'd suggest escaping into this book upon its release in May  2020.

I Made a Mistake is a new novel by the SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author of I LOOKED AWAY

Pre-order here 

Vivalabook mark - 8/10 

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

goggle books review

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Published 6 Jan 2020 

A novel about an aeroplane disaster, in these times of world worry, shouldn't be cathartic, uplifting, nor enjoyable; but that's exactly what Dear Edward is. If this was a film, it wouldn't be labelled as a 'disaster' movie, it's a 'coming of age 'drama and what could be described as a study in humanities reactions to unmitigated tragedy, and that we may well need triumph to overcome it.

The story starts as a young family gather at the airport, taking a commercial flight from New York to California- relocating for the mother's job, she's a screenwriter.  The families two young sons, Jordan & Eddie are homeschooled by their father. Jordon is 15, Eddie is 12, the brothers share a close bond, the latter boy being grounded and mild-mannered, Jordan is the typical rebellious teenager. We soon learn that the plane crashes, killing 191 people, and Eddie is the sole survivor.

The narrative flashes to before and after the crash, introducing and dissecting the lives of passengers on the plane, and some small subplots about their lives. We know that their journey is about to reach its final destination so it reads kind of prophetic, but the subplot's and characterisation give the penultimate crash more meaning.

As Edward recovers from the plane crash the orphaned teen goes to live with his aunt and uncle and becomes friends with the young girl who lives next door.  'Eddie' soon becomes Edward and he is helped in overcoming the inevitable emotional and physical obstacles by his new friend Shay. As the year's pass, Eddie and Shay, become awkward teenagers, and as their relationship blossoms, it carries the narrative of Edward's recovery with a warm sentiment.

As Edward starts school for the first time, the crash victim becomes friends with the headteacher (an amateur botanist) starts weightlifting, and is helped in recovery by his psychiatrist. Discovering a hoard of letters written to him by relatives of the crash victims, Edward eventually realises how lucky he has been, wishing to help the families of the victims who didn't make it and looks towards the future. The plane crash itself is dramatic, the prose throughout is impressive, and this is a warmly engaging book. An interesting take on the 'coming of age' fiction novel and it's a cathartic read in these times of troubling uncertainty. We can learn a lot from 'Dear Edward', and whilst we are all self-isolating, I suggest you read this book.

Gogglebooks - 7/10 


With thanks to Viking books

Ted Bundy: The Only Living Witness by Stephen G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth

Ted Bundy is a name that's synonymous with American serial killers; a true psychopath.

A name that conjures up images of depravity, heinous slaughter of women, and a 20th-century monster. The epitome of the 'serial killer' term. A name that's spawned as many films as books, Bundy's narcissism, escape techniques, matinee star good looks and debonair charm courted controversy in the courts, and on television, giving him an almost stardom status. This book debunks the myth and delves into the psychopathology of Bundy's psyche, a treat for any fan of true crime.

Stephen G.Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth give a first-hand account of one-to-one interviews with Bundy taken within his cell with a tape-recorder, as he gives a 3rd hand account of his crimes and his time on the run. The more in-depth the interviews become, the more you realise the sheer scale of just how psychotic, narcissistic and psychopathic Bundy was.

The prose is well-written, police procedural understandable, and well-paced as the USA police cross states in search of Bundy's victims, heinous crime-scenes and slaughter of young women. The book ends with Bundy finally reaching the electric chair. The only shocking thing is how he got away with it for so long.

Gogglebooks- 8/10

In the World From the Big House to Hollywood - Richard Stratton - It was written in the stars!

Skyhorse Publishing
Arcade Publishing

GENRE -True Crime

Publication Date - 4th of February 2020

1990, Manhatten, New York City.  Writer/drug-dealer Richard Stratton is about to leave prison. Having been an industrious drug-dealer (think an American version of Howard Marks), Stratton is released having beaten the system, released on a technicality, and this ex-drug dealer is schooled in the art of law and order. Whilst inside Stratton has trained as a forensic specialist, oh yeah, he's also a writer his novel 'Smack Goddess' is about to be published. Richard Stratton is a great storyteller, a passionate writer, and has friends in very (excuse the pun) high places.

Upon release from prison (on parole when he shouldn't have been) he's offered a job with a law firm, a substantial amount of cahs to publish his book, and life seems good again. With the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other- you wonder how long Richard Stratton will last outside in the real world. What follows is Stratton's story of rejoining the real world, engaging with an array of colourful characters; from mafia legends to a best friend (American writer) Norman Mailer, actors Dustin Hoffman & Sly Stallone, to writing a successful series for HBO, getting married and having kids, all whilst fighting an insatiable urge to go against the American legal system and return to type by dealing one final time. He doesn't. However, Richard Stratton is obviously a highly educated and articulate writer. Whether writing about Mafia court cases or his lust for a dental receptionist, 'In The World' manages to mix murky true crime, with an insight into the TV / Film industry 'street time' publishing 'slam'  and his passionate interest in American crime (Harry Chapin, Mike Tyson). The fascinating relationship he has with a septuagenarian mobster is true serendipity.

My only criticism would be that when reading a book by such a talented writer of prose, poetry, film, documentary, and prison life, I would be interested to learn more about how Richard Stratton really writes, an insight into how he does it, the influences, where did his story begin?. More of that and less of the minutia mafia detail. That said, this is a very enjoyable book.

If you'd like to read more from this writer, check him out on goodreads.com 

ALL THE RAGE - CARA HUNTER ; It's exactly how crime fiction should be!

ALL THE RAGE by Cara Hunter is the 3rd book in the D.I Fawley series. Although, having never read a book from the series before, you certainly don't need too to become immersed in this engaging and easily readable crime novel.

A thoroughly modern story that's set in Oxford, UK, 2018, its less 'Inspector Morse' and more 'Line of Duty' in terms of crime fiction. Yep, that's right, TV's biggest crime series has just met its match. When a college girl (with a secret) is attacked in broad daylight, a small investigation is opened. When another school disappears and is later found dead, things get a lot more serious and a 'roadside rapist' from 20 years earlier is suspected, a case that D.I Fawley was heavily involved in. Was the wrong man jailed for the attacks? it certainly seems so. As the narrative unravels, our protagonist almost takes a backseat, his team take charge, and as two crimes are investigated, are we lead to the same culprit?

Fawley's diary acts a compelling narrative tool giving the reader insight an into his past, and whilst he leads the investigation, to begin with, he's forced to take a step back and we learn more about the investigation team, with strong characterisation and some great police procedural insight.

Cara Hunter peppers the prose with modern cultural references (expect twitter feeds, and screenshots of text messages), fashionistas, the clique click of teenage schoolgirl life, a slippery suspicious teacher, an insidious yet highly believable modus operandi, and easily likeable characters.  It ends not how you expect, it's full of unsuspecting twists and turns, and it compelling throughout - exactly how crime fiction should be!

ALL THE RAGE is published in January 2020 by Penguin

Huge thanks to NetGalley for allowing google books to review our first crime fiction book!