A recounting of the gruesome details of sensational crimes of the twentieth century in Germany, the United States and Canada.
Originally published in Germany in 2002, forensic scientist Benecke (The Dream of Eternal Life, 2002) brings his research to the English-speaking audience. He explains the tools and techniques of scientific investigators, makes manifest the role of chance in criminal investigations, reveals the workings of criminal minds and demonstrates that truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Some of the cases he presents are from German archives and are likely to be unfamiliar to American readers—for example, Peter Kurten, aka the “Dusseldorf Vampire,” and Karl Denke, who served his victims as meals and made tools from their remains. More familiar will be the Lindbergh kidnapping case (Benecke shows how investigators were able to match wood in the ladder used with wood in the home of Bruno Hauptmann, the man convicted of the crime), and the O.J. Simpson case (Benecke retraces the prosecution’s errors and presents the forensic evidence that the jury dismissed). Jeffrey Dahmer gets a close look, too, as do Paul Bernardo and Karla Homulka, whose series of brutal rapes made headlines in Canada in the 1990s. Sandwiched into this rambling narrative of heinous crimes and criminal investigations are a dozen boxed mini-essays on such topics as the preservation of Lenin’s corpse, facial reconstruction, corpse-tracking dogs and genetic finger-printing. The author, who opposes capital punishment, includes an especially graphic piece on the effects of beheading. Many of the illustrations are gruesome, featuring skulls, corpses, murder weapons and the remnants of butchered bodies.
This hodgepodge of crime stories is definitely not for the squeamish. Prepare for gore.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)