This hodgepodge of crime stories is definitely not for the squeamish. Prepare for gore.




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.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-231-13118-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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