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THE DEVIL'S HARVEST

A RUTHLESS KILLER, A TERRORIZED COMMUNITY, AND THE SEARCH FOR JUSTICE IN CALIFORNIA'S CENTRAL VALLEY

An urgent, highly readable work of crime swiftly committed and justice long delayed.

Most contract killers view their acts as a job. BuzzFeed News West Coast investigations editor Garrison portrays one who took pleasure from murder.

Jose Manuel Martinez killed nearly 40 people in a 30-year period, sometimes for pay, sometimes simply because, in one case, someone parked in his driveway. He was finally convicted in three different states, but it took the police more than three decades to catch up to him even though they suspected him. There were a couple of reasons for the lag; Martinez claimed it was because he was “so damn good,” but Garrison has a different take: Of the Golden State Killer, who killed mostly white women, some 2,800 stories were written, whereas in the case of Martinez, “there were fewer than fifty.” The author ventures that Martinez, whose victims were mostly Mexican Americans and immigrants presumed to live in crime-ridden places with no advocates in law enforcement, “had found an ideal place to ply his trade” in California’s impoverished Central Valley. Garrison constructs a horrifying portrait of a man who began to kill when a relative was raped and murdered, found he was good at it, and made it a profession alongside drug-dealing and other crimes. The police caught up with him time and time again but could never make the charges stick beyond short sentences—as when he killed “a rat” and failed a lie-detector test on the matter but soon walked away because polygraphs aren’t admissible evidence in California courts. Garrison’s story involves a lot of personal back and forth with the now-imprisoned Martinez, who called her during his Florida trial to ask, “What is a sociopath?” “When I told him it referred to someone who had no conscience and lived outside the rules of society,” she writes, “he responded, ‘Huh,’ as if he wasn’t quite sure what to make of that.”

An urgent, highly readable work of crime swiftly committed and justice long delayed.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-45568-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Hachette

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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