A grisly primer on criminal justice in the byzantine American system—will appeal to true-crime aficionados but likely not a...

WHO KILLED THESE GIRLS?

COLD CASE: THE YOGURT SHOP MURDERS

An exhaustive examination of an unsolved 1991 murder of four teenage girls at a frozen yogurt shop in Austin, Texas.

The girls had all been shot, their bodies were incinerated at the back of the shop, and one or more of them was raped. For years, Austin police and prosecutors investigated relentlessly without arrests, while the families of the four victims (two of them sisters) mourned, journalists broadcast and published multiple new twists as well as speculation, and four teenage boys feared they would become defendants because one of them had stupidly talked aloud, implicating himself and three acquaintances—maybe truthfully or maybe falsely. Lowry (Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life, 2007, etc.) painstakingly explains why the original homicide detective never felt confident enough about the evidence to arrest anybody but how a later investigator believed in the guilt of the four males and manipulated evidence to fit his theory. Prosecutors eventually accepted enough of the shaky evidence to charge two of the males. In separate jury trials, they obtained convictions. A third suspect was arrested but never tried. The fourth suspect, the alleged ringleader who had spoken out, sat in jail for years without being tried and eventually won release on a legal technicality but died a decade later while trying to escape police after a traffic stop that escalated. Lowry did not begin studying the case until 2009, but she immersed herself so deeply that she produces an encyclopedic book. She examines countless imperfect theories about the crime without reaching a definitive answer. Along the way, the author explains various phenomena related to wrongful convictions in hundreds of other cases, including why some suspects confess to crimes they never committed. In the yogurt shop case, two of the male suspects did confess after high-pressure interrogations by police detectives, then later recanted their confessions and sought acquittal at their trials.

A grisly primer on criminal justice in the byzantine American system—will appeal to true-crime aficionados but likely not a larger audience.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-307-59411-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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