A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell – I’m in awe of this incredible woman, Virginia Hall. The book is a best seller and is being adapted into two movies for a reason. Hall was an American spy who worked undercover in France during World War II and later for the CIA. Remarkable acts of bravery, persistence and cunning throughout that are really only now coming to light thanks to the brilliant work of Purnell. That Hall was not more celebrated before is partly due to gender discrimination and in part due to the secretive nature of her work and Hall’s unwillingness to exploit that no matter how many years had passed. I can’t wait for the movie as some of the scenes –an escape through snow-covered mountains– must be seen to fully absorb the breathtaking scope of Hall’s daring nature and perseverance.
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep – “A compelling hybrid of a novel, at once a true-crime thriller, courtroom drama, and miniature biography of Harper Lee. If To Kill a Mockingbird was one of your favorite books growing up, you should add Furious Hours to your reading list today.” —Southern Living
“Thriller” might be a bit much –it’s pretty clear who is killing people and why– but it’s most definitely an interesting look into the early days of the insurance industry when anyone could buy a policy on anyone else’s life without any checks and balances. That is just begging for murder & mayhem. How stupid!
The courtroom stuff isn’t all that dramatic either but, again, quite interesting if you’re into crime, law and punishment.
The miniature biography section was immensely enjoyable. I had little knowledge about Lee and her relationship with her childhood friend Truman Capote. I also enjoy hearing tales of writers living in NYC in the decades before me. Overall, a really great book that I would recommend for fans of Lee’s and/or true-crime narratives.
Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller – Emily Doe was raped by Brock Turner who received a paltry 6-month sentence (the appalling lenience resulted in the judge’s recall). Emily Doe is reclaiming her name –Chanel Miller– and identity by coming forward in this exquisitely written account of the events that unfolded that night and in the days since. I expected it to be so much more upsetting and depressing than it was. Instead, I was so impressed with her story and beautiful writing. What an inspiration she is to me, giving me the instruction manual on how to be brave in the face of extreme fear. What a rebuttal she has given to the nasty pit that is anonymous public opinion on online comment and forums. I’m immensely proud of her.
The Killer Across the Table: Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI’s Original Mindhunter by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker – Serial killer stuff is so fascinating to so many people and that is, alone, worth investigating. Why is this so interesting? The Netflix show “Mindhunter” is based on the work of Douglas and Olshaker. More than a few people said of the show, “It’s okay, but you would like it.” Mmmkay? LOL!* So I looked up Mindhunter, found out Douglas has written numerous books and decided to check out this latest one.
In it, he mainly studies four criminals, but other infamous cases are discussed as tangential examples of revealing criminal behavior, desires, motivations, etc. Coming from his logical and methodical way of studying criminals and this being a narrative from the criminal and investigator’s perspective, the book depletes much of the humanity of the victims and families. But it is incredibly fascinating and these gentlemen have done great work in developing criminal profiles and stopping more violence against innocent people. Kudos.
*I ended up watching season one and people are correct: It’s okay. Just okay. I won’t keep watching, though. The lead character based on Douglas is a bit bland. Mostly, I feel like blurring the truth with fiction in this tv dramatization muddles everything up. If I’d like to watch something on the BTK killer, for example, I’ll just watch a documentary or read a book.