The rapid-fire tale of one of the most infamous true-crime stories of the past decade.
As Patterson (The People vs. Alex Cross, 2017, etc.) and Abramovich (Bullies: A Friendship, 2016) demonstrate early on, Aaron Hernandez (1989-2017) appeared to have it all. A football star in Connecticut, he was recruited to play at the University of Florida, where he was a standout tight end. Although there were a few whispers of behavioral issues when he was in Gainesville that led to him dropping in the NFL draft, Hernandez was drafted by the New England Patriots. His trajectory continued to rise in the NFL, where he made the Pro Bowl and eventually earned a contract extension worth $40 million. Then it all went awry. In 2015, Hernandez was convicted of the 2013 murder of his fiancee’s sister’s boyfriend and later put on trial—though acquitted—for a double murder in Boston that happened before the murder for which he was convicted (and which the authors clearly believe he committed). The handsome and charming but volatile football star was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole; in 2017, he was found dead in his cell of an apparent suicide. As can be expected in any book with Patterson’s name on the cover, the authors tell the Hernandez tale in page-churning fashion. The book, just over 380 pages of text, contains 97 chapters as well as a prologue, coda, and epilogue, virtually none more than five pages long, most three or four. This approach will undoubtedly keep readers moving, but it also leaves little room for depth and nuance. The book also lacks footnotes, endnotes, a bibliography, or any other sourcing.
There is a reason why true crime sells, of course, especially when it involves famous people: A blend of gore, fame, and voyeurism is a compelling mixture in our violent, fame-obsessed society. There is also a reason why the genre has a reputation for gratuitousness. A middling true-crime saga that fails to answer a significant question: Why?