The author's revelations concerning the police investigation into the killings and the persistent presence of a well-organized network of pedophiles who, as a group and as individuals, sexually preyed on children are both unsettling and outrageous. A wealthy pedophile who owned North Fox Island in northern Lake Michigan registered his island as a boys' camp and received state and federal reimbursement for flying children to his camp where they were molested and raped
by paying members of his pedophile club. The author firmly believes the killer had connections with the Fox Island owner and the club. When it was finally uncovered by the Michigan State Police and they seized a membership list studded with influential names the list was lost or purposely destroyed. Other evidence collected by Detroit and suburban police also had a way of disappearing. Eventually, the author comes to the conclusion police covered up crime scene evidence and intentionally or otherwise deflected attention away from prime suspects.
One of the young female victims was last seen getting into a patrol car with a policeman before her body was found abandoned beside a road. Those who witnessed the girl getting in the officer's car or heard the story second-hand and called it in as a tip were later found dead from apparent suicides. One of the prime suspects and a known child molester was found dead in his bed, rolled up tightly in a blanket alongside a rifle. The man had a single, fatal bullet hole in his forehead. In spite of the fact that the man's arms were inside the blanket and there was no gunpowder residue on his hands the police declared it a suicide.
The author piles up one disturbing piece of damning evidence after another until the reader is left wondering if the thirty-year investigation of the killings was simply, but innocently and horribly mismanaged, or is a case of criminal mismanagement and a cover-up. One is also left contemplating the likely possibility that the four children were passed from pedophile to pedophile and finally handed off to a killer. The book raises many disturbing facts and questions, among the latter, is how deep, active, and widespread is the pedophile underground in today's society?
Woven within this horrific story is the author's struggle to come to grips with his own tormented childhood that was dominated by a cruel and unloving father who left his son emotionally damaged.
This is a powerful, shocking, and an emotionally charged true crime story. Yes, at times it is uncomfortable reading no matter how well written. But turning away from this book because it is unsettling is the equivalent of turning away from dealing with the threat of pedophilia in today's society because the subject is too upsetting. The author is currently adding the finishing touches to a four-part television documentary based on the Kill Jar.
The Kill Jar: Obsession, Descent, and A Hunt for Detroit's Most Notorious Serial Killer by J. Reuben Appelman. Gallery Books, 2018, $24.99.
Things are a-buzz in the village when a multi-millionaire moves to town with a small retinue of his own odd friends and calls a meeting to announce he is giving Bear Falls a two-million-dollar gift. The catch is the town's people must decide on what to spend the money. Among those attending the announcement are the series three main characters; Jenny, back home from Chicago after her marriage went bad, Dora her mother with whom she lives, and their next-door neighbor Zoe Zola. Zola is a "Little Person," a semi-famous writer of scholarly books on Jane Austin, and along with Jenny, the town's unofficial ace murder investigator.
It comes as a big surprise the town's new resident and benefactor is also a "Little Person." Unexpectedly the two "Little People" fail to see eye-to-eye, so to speak, in fact, they hit it off like roughly shaken nitro and glycerine. The town is also rocked by the discovery of a murdered girl and the disappearance of another young lady. Of course, Jenny and Zoe dive into solving the murder and disappearance. The town's sheriff has only one deputy and seems to expect the two women to help him solve the mysteries.
In any other small town in Michigan in which a girl was murdered and another missing, it would be expected that the Michigan State Police and county sheriff investigators would be all over the case like down on a duck's back. But Bear Falls is eccentric and with official law enforcement mostly in the background, and contributing little, Zoe and Jenny out do Hercule Perot.
So there must be some suspension of belief when it comes to the plot. The real charm of the book and what keeps one reading is the people of Bear Falls, the truly unique character Zoe Zola, and the friendship between the quirky Jane Austin scholar and a young woman trying to heal the wounds of a bad marriage and discover what and who she is. This reader, although concerned by the incredibly high per capita murder rate of Bear Falls, would move there in an instant. Admittedly, I'm not a gambler and can't figure the odds of a coin flip coming up heads or tails. But really, when the fourth book in this Little Library Mystery series is published, what are the odds of yet another murder in this near idyllic and friendly town?
In Want of a Knife by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli. Crooked Lane Books, 2018, $26.99
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