Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Sting (True Crime) by Kate Kyriacou

Paperback:  The disappearance of Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe was one of the most heartbreaking and confounding child abduction and murder cases of the century, spanning almost a decade prior to the eventual arrest of known paedophile Brett Peter Cowan, one of the original persons of interest.

The story of the police sting that resulted in his confession reads like crime fiction, featuring an elaborately staged fake crime gang run by a 'Mr Big' that lured Cowan in with the promise of a hefty payout.

The Sting (2015) takes you on a journey behind Australia's most sensational undercover bust that caught Daniel Morcombe's killer, revealing extraordinary new details.  It is a shocking insight into one of the country's most evil killers, and the operation that brought him down.

"Immersing yourself in the world of a sadistic paedophile is not easy.  It's difficult to accept what some people are capable of.  It's hard to imagine what it must have been like for the covert team who spent hour after hour, day after day, in Brett Cowan's company, weaving their delicate trap.  I hope this book goes some way in recognising the important work they did," wrote Kyriacou.

Bruce and Denise Morcombe have dedicated their lives to arming children against such predators.  Their work is equally important.  If you would like to donate to the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, more information can be found here.

About the author:  Kate Kyriacou is the Brisbane Courier-Mail's chief crime reporter.  She has won awards, both at a state and national level, for her work as a crime writer.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest (Non-Fiction) by Anatoli Boukreev and G Weston DeWalt

Paperback:  Mountains have the power to call us into their realms and there, left forever, are our friends whose great souls were longing for the heights.  Do not forget the mountaineers who have not returned from the summits. - Anatoli Boukreev

The mountain doesn't play games.  It sits there unmoved. - Bruce Barcott, "Cliffhangers", Harper's Magazine, August 1996.

The Climb (1998) is a professional high-altitude guide's personal account of the Everest disaster.  The book is also partially a response to Krakauer's account of the same 1996 Everest climb in his book Into Thin Air (1997), which appeared to criticize some of Boukreev's actions during the climb.  After The Climb was published, DeWalt leveled many public criticisms at Krakauer concerning the accuracy of each man's account of what happened on the mountain during the 1996 climbs.  Krakauer detailed the disagreements and his rapprochement with Boukreev, in the postscript to the 1999 edition of Into Thin Air.  Reinhold Messner, widely regarded as perhaps the best climber in history, who mastered the first fast alpine-style ascents of Everest and multiple Himalayan peaks without oxygen, claimed he knows Boukreev, and he was like Krakauer describes - arrogant and unfeeling.  He dismissed this book as being ghost-written.

On 10 May 1996, three expeditions headed by expert leaders attempted to scale the world's largest peak - Mount Everest's Southeast Ridge - but as darkness approached, things went terribly wrong.  A ferocious and fatal blizzard caught twenty-three men and women, including leaders Scott Fischer and Rob Hall, rendering them completely disoriented and out of oxygen.

Moreover, crowded conditions and bad judgement, not to mention the bitter storm stopped many climbers in their tracks.  Others were left for dead, or stranded on the frigid mountain.  Alone and climbing blind, Anatoli Boukreev, head climbing guide for the Mountain Madness expedition, stepped into the heart of the storm and brought three of his clients down alive.

Here is his amazing and honest story of an expedition fated for disaster, of the blind ambition that drives people to attempt such dangerous ventures, and of a modern-day hero, who risked his own life to save others.  It also includes the transcript of the Mountain Madness debriefing, as well as G Weston DeWalt's history and analysis of the Boukreev-Krakauer debate.  Lastly, this edition of The Climb is dedicated to the memory of those who never made it back from the mountains.

About the authors:  Anatoli Boukreev (1958-1997) was one of the world's foremost high-altitude mountaineers.  Twenty-one times he went to the summit of the world's highest mountains.  For his heroic actions on Mount Everest in May 1996, he was awarded the American Alpine Club's highest honour, the David A Sowles Memorial Award.  He died in an avalanche in 1997 while attempting a winter assault on Annapurna in Nepal.

G Weston DeWalt is a writer and documentary filmmaker who lives in Pasadena, California.  He was not part of the expedition but provided accounts from other climbers and tied together the narrative of Boukreev's logbook.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Book Buffet


A Short Story by Shel Silverstein

Poisoned Love (True Crime) by Caitlin Rother

Paperback:  This new updated edition - Poisoned Love (2011) - provides sensational revelations about Kristin Rossum's claim of innocence, including a recent appeals court decision that may reopen the case to new investigations and media attention.

Accident, Suicide or Murder?

On 6 November 6 2000, paramedics answered a call to find Kristin Rossum, 24, sobbing.  Her husband, Greg de Villers, wasn't breathing and she claimed he had overdosed on drugs after learning she was leaving him.  But family and friends who knew of Greg's distaste for drugs weren't buying Kristin's story - particularly the idea that he would take his own life.

American Beauty

The daughter of a well-to-do California family, Rossum was a brainy blonde beauty whose talent for toxicology had won her a post at the San Diego Count Medical Examiner's Office.  But her sweet smile masked a dark side.  She had developed a taste for methamphetamine in high school, and six months after her marriage to Greg, she had begun seeking secret trysts with other men.

Toxic Passion

At the time of her husband's death, Rossum was engaged in an illicit affair with her married boss. Investigations found that the Medical Examiner's Office was missing supplies of meth and fentanyl, the narcotic that had killed her husband.  With each clue discovered, another piece of Rossum's "good girl" façade fell away.  What the world would eventually see was the true face of a murderer - and the hand of justice.

About the author:  Caitlin Rother, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, worked as an investigative reporter at daily newspapers for nineteen years before deciding to write books full-time.  Her work has been published in Cosmopolitan, the Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Daily Beast.  She has appeared as a crime expert on E! Entertainment, the Oxygen Network, Investigation Discovery, Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record,” XM Radio and the American Radio Network.  She also teaches narrative non-fiction, journalism, and creative writing at UCSD Extension in San Diego, CA, where she resides.  Rother covered the Rossum case from arrest to sentencing, did all new interviews after the trial, and has now brought readers up to date on the latest developments.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Red Jade (A Detective Jack Yu Investigation) by Henry Chang

Hardback:  The bodies of a young man and woman are discovered at an address on the Bloody Angle, Chinatown's historic Tong battleground.  NYPD Detective Jack Yu had thought he was done working in Chinatown but old allegiances pull him back in.  Is it a simple murder-suicide?

The grieving families want him to keep a lid on any stories that might further tarnish their names, but the Golden Galaxy club, where the young woman worked, is made for scandal.  Drugs, snakeheads, smuggled prostitutes:  "Girls don't last long before getting dirty."

As a series of puzzling links between the murders and the criminal underworld reveals itself, Yu's investigation takes him across the country to another Chinatown, this one in Seattle.  In the new city, stymied by the uncooperative local cops, he tracks a cold-blooded Chinese American gangster and a mysterious Hong Kong femme fatale.

Red Jade (2010) is the third noir suspense in the stunning Detective Jack Yu Investigation series.

About the author:  Henry Chang is a New Yorker, a native son of Chinatown and the Lower East Side.  His poems have appeared in the seminal Yellow Pearl anthology, and in Gangs In New York’s Chinatown.  He has written for Bridge Magazine, and his fiction has appeared in On A Bed Of Rice and in the NuyorAsian Anthology.  His debut novel Chinatown Beat (2006) garnered high praise from the New York Times Book Review, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, among others.

Henry Chang is a graduate of CCNY (City College of New York).  He has been a lighting consultant, and a Security Director for major hotels, commercial properties, and retail businesses in Manhattan.

He resides in the Chinatown area, and his ‘Chinatown Trilogy' of Chinatown Beat (2006), Year of the Dog (2008), and Red Jade (2010) are currently being developed for television and movies.  His fourth book featuring NYPD detective Jack Yu, - Death Money - published March 2014.

Rating:  5/5

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Year of the Dog (A Detective Jack Yu Investigation Series) by Henry Chang

Hardback:  There are Chinatowns in New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, London...in many different countries all around the globe.  But wherever they are located geographically, Chinatown is one community.  Fire a gun in New York's Chinatown and the echo reverberates seconds later in Hong Kong.  Political pressures emanating from Mainland China are felt by the new wave of immigrants on Mott, Hester, and Delancey Streets in hours.

American-born Jack Yu became one of the few ethnically Chinese officers in the NYPD.  Now he has been promoted out of the Chinatown Precinct.  But he cannot get away from Chinatown's criminals - his old friends - who are hooked up with Hong Kong based triads in a crooked scam of international proportions.

In this vivid evocation, Chang shows us the people he understands so well:  a Chinese yuppie whose loss of face ends in tragedy;  an ailing bookie with romance in his soul;  a would-be gang leader and the tough new immigrants from Fukien who confront him;  and the triad official, Grass Sandal, sent from Hong Kong to liase with local benevolent societies.  He also cannot escape the Chinese victims whose stories cry out for justice, like the teenage Chinese take-out delivery boy brutally murdered in the projects.

Year of the Dog (2008) - the second noir suspense in the impressive Detective Jack Yu series set in New York - shows us what exists beneath the surface of the tourists' Chinatown.

About the author:  Henry Chang is a New Yorker, a native son of Chinatown and the Lower East Side.  His poems have appeared in the seminal Yellow Pearl anthology, and in Gangs In New York’s Chinatown.  He has written for Bridge Magazine, and his fiction has appeared in On A Bed Of Rice and in the NuyorAsian Anthology.  His debut novel Chinatown Beat (2006) garnered high praise from the New York Times Book Review, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, among others.

Henry Chang is a graduate of CCNY (City College of New York).  He has been a lighting consultant, and a Security Director for major hotels, commercial properties, and retail businesses in Manhattan.

He resides in the Chinatown area, and his ‘Chinatown Trilogy' of Chinatown Beat (2006), Year of the Dog (2008), and Red Jade (2010) are currently being developed for television and movies.  His fourth book featuring NYPD detective Jack Yu, - Death Money - published March 2014.

Rating:  5/5

A Stunted Historical Progress

Definition: Tidsoptimist