Bluegrass  Reviews  Comments Off on Bluegrass
Jun 212012

by William Van Meter

True crime novels fascinate us like little else, and many of us find the study of true crime mysteries a powerful draw.  Looking into the horrors and struggles of our fellow humans endure reminds us to be thankful and gracious in our own lives.  Typically, I read post-apocalyptic fiction, but lately I’ve picked up a few true crime thrillers.  This one is, by far, the best I’ve read so far.

Bluegrass takes place in Southern Kentucky, in a struggling rural town with a college right smack in the center of things.  Bubbly Katie grew up in a small town, bounced around the foster system, before coming to the college in Bowling Green.  There, Katie explodes her life into new dimensions, making risky choices and exploring different behaviors than what she knew from her quiet, small town life.  Katie makes new friends and pushes the boundaries her strict foster parents enforced.  Unfortunately, Katie makes some wrong choices to the detriment of her life.

But unlike most true crime books, this one reads like a novel.  Author William Van Meter begins the story of our mystery early in the lives of our characters.  He develops those characters, their surroundings, and their lives, and writes the story of Katie’s murder.   William Van Meter investigates back to fill in important details that shed light on how the crime came to happen, and how the crime laid repercussions on everyone who had Katie in their lives.  This is not a dry, exhaustive review of evidence and court proceedings; this is a story of lives that paints a clear and legible picture of the events leading up to and surrounding Katie’s horrific murder.

Check out Bluegrass to read more!



Jun 162011

Upstairs Girls: Prostitution in the American West
By Michael Rutter

Upstairs Girls demystifies the stereotype of the “hooker with a heart of gold” so popularized by film and media in the twentieth century.  We’ve all seen the western movies showing the fancy dance hall girls, but that necessarily wasn’t always the case.

Author and historian Michael Rutter brings forth historical documentation describing and explaining the real truth of the prostitution profession in the Wild West.  Broken into three parts, Rutter details the truth behind the varied levels of prostitution, as well as the Dance Hall Girls and the Purity Movement as  correlations to prostitution, and finishes with biographies of popular western prostitutes.  Rutter explains how women found themselves in the situation of choosing the “Sisterhood,” as well as the different classifications of prostitution in the old west.  Not every woman was able to work her way into a fancy brothel with beautiful dresses and fine furnishings, and Rutter illustrates all conditions, no matter how horrific, including the Chinese sex trade so often overlooked by popular media.

In addition to learning about the history of prostitution in the Wild West, enjoy biographies of many famous wild women, from Calamity Jane to Fannie Silks to Ah Toy.  Read about your favorites, and discover new women to admire.  Many rose to positions of significant power from their wits alone, like Ah Toy.  Ah was put into the Chinese sex trade as a young woman, but using her sharp mind, she fought her way to the best position of power a woman could, even in the face of Chinese persecution.  She even took cases to court, a rarity even for prestigious white women of her time!  Read Ah Toy’s story in this fun book, and many more!

Check out Upstairs Girls and other great books about the Wild West today!

The Badge

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Jun 092011

The Badge
By Jack Webb

So, you remember the show Dragnet, right?  Well this book, written by the same Jack Webb, highlights many of the stories featured on Dragnet that were not appropriate for the television audience.  These stories were classified as too violent or too sensational for TV, so Jack Webb documented them here.  But, this book is more than just the hidden stories behind the famous TV show and its episodes.  This book goes into the elaborate inner workings of the LA Police Department.  Webb explains, in detail, what each rank of officer does, and what his daily work life was like.  Webb also explains a significant amount of LA history, as well, showing for the reader how the common icons of today’s LA came about.  The book is rich with the stories, and even richer in painting the portrait of the giant metropolis of LA.  The caveat? The book was written in the fifties, and published in 1958.  Thus, this book is truly a window back in time, showing us what life was really like living in the beginnings of the urban sprawl that is now Southern California.  Webb’s book is a testimonial to the underbelly of the squeaky clean image of the 1950s, and is a real eye opener to read.

Check out The Badge and more great crime fiction today!

Dirty Secret

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Apr 042011

Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding.  By Jessie Sholl.

Have you ever watched the show Hoarders?  Have you ever known someone in your neighborhood who had just too much stuff?  We all have, at times, but without understanding why people held on to so much stuff.

This is a facinating journey into compulsive hoarding, seen and told through the eyes of a daughter of a compulsive hoarder.  Jessie’s mother keeps stuff.  She always has, and has always had difficulty keeping things organized and neat.  Jessie tells the story of her mother’s hoarding as an adult, during a crisis with her mother’s health, with insights into what her life was like growing up.  The author shows us how hoarders live and think, and she explains, even pointing to scholarly information and definitions, what hoarding is and how it is affected by psychology.

Dirty Secret is a great read, and you feel compassion for the author as well as her mother and other family members.  The story is shocking and real, and the lessons are well learned.  Jessie Sholl is an excellent author who writes a tale worth reading.  The journey taken through this book is one of healing and understanding as a daughter explores her mother’s hoarding and forgives the hold the hoarding has had on her life.

Find Dirty Secret on our non-fiction new book shelf today.