Read: The Dark Heart

The Dark Heart by Joakim Palmkvist (Author) and Agnes Broomé (Translator)

This book speaks volumes. VOLUMES. Volumes of unnecessary hoarding of family fortune – to an extent of (likely) mental abuse. But then again! Here comes my usual line as a reader – What do I know?

Also, extremely brave of one of the subject matters – Therese Tang, of Missing People Sweden. If it weren’t for her, Göran Lundblad would still be buried 6.5 feet under, in his own farm; one that he’s been so overprotective over, even from his own daughter and loyal worker (specifically Sara Lundblad, who planned his murder).

Curious as always, I followed Therese Tang on Instagram, a spur of the moment thing because I wanted to see how normal of a person she is, while imagining her (and her role) in the book. Martin Törnblad, the murderer, might be released in 2026. Would he hunt her down and kill her, for ‘betraying’ him? Therese’s IG is not private. Her life is there for him to see. I suppose she’s trying to live a normal life, a life without fear.

But what do I know? Without her bravery, families wouldn’t have closure. Martin would’ve probably killed Sara for God knows what mental reason, and the list of probabilities goes on.

The book was dry in bits, but necessary. Though you may need to bear with some geographical facts which can be a bit heavy to digest (and get your bearings).

Read: Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century

I took quite a while to finish this book as the author went in really deep on this (he’s most certainly not the first to write about the girls, hence he had a lot of referencing to do). I can’t recall whether he wasn’t born yet or whether he was a toddler when the murder took place, but the author hails from New Zealand and is a lawyer who was (is?) based in Hong Kong when he began writing this book. It was mentioned somewhere in the foreword.

The author made a lot of references to the girls’ diaries, often citing old movies and literature which were favored by the girls. Bear in mind all these were in the early 1950s, so even if you’re familiar with WW2, it’s not enough. The references to WW2, the cold, bitter weather, South Africa, the state the families were in (post-war), probably took up less than 5% of the book. I say this because I am (indefinitely) not into classic literatures, thrillers, plays… Well, generally the sort of things that were heavily described throughout the book.

I didn’t have much difficulty reading the book, the prose wasn’t ‘old English’, but I did bump into dry bits where I couldn’t relate to at all, as the girls were really into fiction and imaginary characters plus stuff people who enjoy Romeo and Juliet might be able to connect with.

Other facts were okay and informative, such as mental illness in the 1950s, the court battles, family predicaments. The best takeaway, for me, were within the last few chapters, where the author attempted to analyze how the girls were raised by their mothers – the abandonment, the resentment, the shortcomings between mother and daughter relationships etc. I did highlight a few passages. It made me cringe, as I myself, am a mother…

Would I recommend this book to anyone? I don’t know. None of my close friends who are bookworms are into true crime nor would they give a **** about these two murderesses. Don’t think they’ll bat an eyelid with Leopold and Loeb neither.

I gave 5 shining stars on Goodreads. Everything in the name of effort and details.

p.s. It seems that I didn’t write about the girls, the murder… What is there to write?

[2018] May The Best Book Win!

Over the past week, posts on my Facebook groups has been filled with hashtags #2018fav6, #2018fav9, you get the idea. I didn’t participate because it would be too hard to pick 6! But then along came a true genius who cooked up a fed-up post, asking us to share our least favorite books of the year. Needless to say I jumped in because that was super easy for me. I even thanked her for that!

Back to May The Best Book Win!

Here are my favorite books of the year. Some genres are intertwined (supposed to, for example, some memoirs are of war and history but I didn’t categorize them under that genre). So to get around that, I compartmentalized them under the genre intended by the author or publisher (“it’s a memoir about war and history, therefore it’s a memoir”).

Here’s the list! For a brief version click here.

Best in Memoirs, Autobiographies

Tie!

I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High, by Tony Danza

&

She’s Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Best in Biographies

In Extremis: The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum

Best in Current Affairs, War, History

Fire And Fury, by Michael Wolff 

Best in Business

Bad Blood: Secrets & Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

Best in LGBTQIA

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family, by Amy Ellis Nutt

Best in True Crime

Mossad: The Greatest Missions of The Israeli Secret Service, by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal

Best in Fiction

房思琪的初戀樂園, 林奕含 著 
Fang Si-Chi’s First Love Paradise by  Lin Yi-Han

You’ve reached the end of this post and the year – Thank you for reading my posts (or this blog). I hope you’ve found what you were looking for. Keep reading, stay foolish!

Read: [True Crime Compilation]

This book deserves its own post, but since there’s only four true crime reads…

I first came across this book on Facebook. A former client-turned-friend of mine was traveling for business, bought this book at Changi Airport (or was it HKIA), and posted it on her timeline. I recall her caption having the following words: ‘fantastic’, ‘strategic’, and since I respected her a lot (professionalism in everything she touches), I purchased it right away.

Not an easy read, with all the facts to digest and also history to look up (thank goodness for Kindle). But this was a great read. Definitely one of my favorites or top ten reads of the year.

p.s. Please don’t dismiss great reads or history because of bigotry or racism whatsoever*. Knowledge is power. Don’t be ignorant.

*I’m sorry. I know I dismiss fiction reads all the time. Bloody hypocrite!

Wow. Does my opinion matter? It doesn’t. Not in this case of course it doesn’t. Though, I must say (yeah I don’t care what you think), this is really useful for lawyers, law enforcement, and the general public.

Be an idiot and let a murderer walk free – ALL OF YOU!

JonBenét: Inside The Ramsey Investigation by Steve Thomas (with Don Davis)

Again – Same thoughts as Casey Anthony. Jonbenét’s brother needs to take a lie detector test. Just saying. And, I’ll gladly take it on his behalf.

p.s. Freaking Boulder police department.

Evil: Spine-Tingling True Stories of Murder and Mayhem by Colin Wilson and Damon Wilson

I breezed though this book (not because I love murder stories) because I am somewhat familiar with all the murderers (okay, I know). I don’t remember much from this book, so there’s that.

TBR: Operation Playboy

(my 7yo wanted to include his Ford Mustang so I let him.)

This book was on sale and I caved. Not because I don’t have enough on my purchased+tbr pile, but because I have read three of her books and all three were in hard copies, so instead of getting an ebook, why not get the real book to complete the collection!

(I was choosing between Ken Mogi’s Ikigai and this).

Backtrack:

A friend of mine recently traveled to a city which has one of the best bookstores in the region. Unfortunately, though, the region is called Asia. So the book selection, well, let’s not elaborate on that. Before he took off, I’d asked him to get me In Extremis by Lindsey Hilsum (preferably hardcover, I rarely spend on hardcovers). Few days later, he sent a text, saying they didn’t carry the book. I’d have to order (from them) online.

“Yeah. Sure. Might as well get it online then,” I replied. He caught my drift.

“I’ll check at the airport, too, but don’t get your hopes up,” he said.

Two days later. A text came.

“The Malaysian government has banned your book.”

“What??? F**k them, I’ll get it from Book Depository! They can go f**k themselves!” I replied.

“It was a joke. The airport doesn’t have it, neither.”

We exchanged couple more texts and decided to accumulate some books, and he’ll be the one placing the orders online.

I was looking forward to In Extremis being my first real book in years, but it failed to suffice. Guess having Operation Playboy ain’t that bad. Afterall, she’s an accomplished investigative journalist – my Achilles heel.

Also added her to my project page, “Journalists + Books”.

Here’s another photo I took before the Ford Mustang drove by.

p.s. I’ve read three of her books: Schapelle Corby – My Story, Snowing in Bali, and Hotel K. Quick, but insightful true crime reads. I’ll leave you with the following page (from Operation Playboy), and –

Happy reading everyone. Merry Christmas.

On True Crime

I am most certainly not the greatest hoarder of true crime reads, but I’ve read more than a dozen or so. Hence, I guess it’s not too premature for me to be stating the following observations.

Long before I got into this genre, I assumed that true crime was all about the crime itself: the crime, the criminal, the intent, the hunt, followed by justice (or lack thereof). Then in between there’s the essentials in solving the crime – confession, witnesses, evidence.

That’s all there is to it, right? Most people who are clueless about true crime would likely have made the same assumptions as I did.

But it’s beyond that. There’s the politicking involved in prosecuting a crime. The incompetency contributed by various departments which led to mistrials etc. Daylight robbery mistakes that no one seemed to be able to comprehend that a robbery was even committed. Red tapes and other idiotic bureaucracies. Some, literally, crime within an unsolved crime. How does that sound?

True crime is often penned for specific reasons.

First, injustice. For example, why wasn’t the killer caught earlier, what did we miss? Or, what did the prosecution fuck up this time? Or, how could such incompetence be avoided at all? Why did it have to be a trial by jury? Why was a plea bargain even considered? What the hell was the grand jury thinking? How were they even selected?

Second, lessons and learnings. Certain true crime reads are naturally essential reads for criminology studies. Otherwise, sure, spend all your time requesting for archives and wait for the document to be released so that you can drive all the way from your dorm room to collect them. We read to learn from the past, and crimes are the most natural evil that humans do unto another. Through reading true crime and absorbing the psychology aspect of it, we are not merely watching a CSI episode with a Law & Order rerun in the background.

Third, I don’t have a third. The above two is justifiable enough.

From Pablo Escobar, The Red Mansion, Tokyo Vice, Amanda Knox (fuck the media), Columbine, to Casey Anthony, these were events that breathed and exhaled evil around us. So, I don’t see why would certain people belittle true crime reads.

It’s not fiction, and it requires extensive research and intensive fact checking.

Heck, I’d even consider Heinrich Himmler a true crime read alongside history or historical biographies. Wouldn’t you?

Just Starting: JonBenét Ramsey

True crime is one of my go-to subgenres. I don’t jump in on every true crime that’s out there, only the ones that I have shallow to familiar knowledge of. JonBenét, is one tragedy that is impossible to forget.

I started reading the papers and news magazines when I was little (post to come someday). The little girl’s murder was all over the tabloids. I was only eight years older than her. I vividly recall accusations pointing toward her parents, specifically her mother. Nothing else.

(I’m at p.27 and from what I’m reading, this is so Amanda Knox-like. The cops and the media never learn. They just never learn).

When this book showed up on my Kindle store racks, I dived. I am aware that there’s not going to be an answer (some readers HATE open-ended investigative journalism reads, and this might be one of it, like Jeff Ashton’s book on Casey Anthony. I’m okay with it.). Still, this book might add more factual pieces to the puzzle I’ve been subconsciously constructing since the mid-90s, and in the years after, sporadically (via on and off updates I came across randomly online).

Little JonBenét would have been 28 this year. Only 28.