True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murrayby Published 24 May 2016
|True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray.pdf|
|Publisher||Thomas Dunne Books|
When an eleven-year-old James Renner fell in love with Amy Mihaljevic, the missing girl seen on posters all over his neighborhood, it was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with true crime. That obsession led Renner to a successful career as an investigative journalist. It also gave him post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2011, Renner began researching the strange disappearance of Maura Murray, a University of Massachusetts student who went missing after wrecking her car in rural New Hampshire in 2004. Over the course of his investigation, he uncovered numerous important and shocking new clues about what may have happened to Murray but also found himself in increasingly dangerous situations with little regard for his own well-being. As his quest to find Murray deepened, the case started taking a toll on his personal life, which began to spiral out of control. The result is an absorbing dual investigation of the complicated story of the All-American girl who went missing and Renner's own equally complicated true-crime addiction.
True Crime Addict is the story of Renner's spellbinding investigation, which has taken on a life of its own for armchair sleuths across the web. In the spirit of David Fincher's Zodiac, it's a fascinating look at a case that has eluded authorities and one man's obsessive quest for the answers.
True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray Reviews
When I was offered the chance to read this memoir, I was pretty excited. I read a few of the previous reviews and it seemed like something I would enjoy reading.
There are times when I will go on a true crime binge. Books, documentaries, TV shows etc. It guts me when cases are not resolved and the families and friends of these missing people are left waiting for news of their loved ones.
I enjoyed reading this memoir, although at times it was very emotional. You could really feel how much James Renner wanted to find out what happened to Maura Murray. He became obsessed with it. His interest in missing people and true crime didn't start with Maura Murray's case. When James was only eleven a local girl named Amy Mihaljevic went missing. Seeing her posters plastered all over his neighborhood got to James and from there his obsession only grew. He also wrote a book about the Amy Mihaljevic case.
In this book, James is investigating the case of Maura Murray. Maura was a UMass student who went missing in 2004 after wrecking her car in New Hampshire. To be honest I had not heard of this case myself but while reading this book did some google searches etc. and learned a lot about it. I can see how someone who is already interested in these cases could become immersed in it and want to know what happened. Unsolved cases are always toughest on everyone involved.
I visited the writers blog and while there is a lot of information from the blog in the book, it was still a very interesting read. There are a frenzy of theories about what happened to Maura everywhere on the internet. There also seems to be a lot of difference in opinion when it comes to Renner's intentions, especially online.
A lot of the book is about James Renner himself. It is understandable that after so many years of immersing himself in all the aspects of crime and especially missing person cases it would definitely start to take its toll. This was quite a personal journey for James Renner. We can see how deeply it affects him both professionally and personally. The word "addict" as used in the title is apt in this case for sure. From what I read, I felt that he was honest and open about all parts of his life and that made the read even more enjoyable. He wasn't trying to look perfect, he showed his true self..flaws and all. The reader learns a lot about Renner's family too. His young son's struggles as well as his own.
In the end I thought this was a really interesting and engrossing read and I look forward to reading more by James Renner.
Thank you to Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press and James Renner for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
I hated this book so much that I won't even bother with a full review. But I will leave you this: if an author in a non-fiction book refers to a strip club as a"tittie bar" AND spells it "tittie", that person has no business writing a book. EVER.
So this is a review that has been a long time coming- and AGAIN, I have to apologize for it being late- since I was given this book free in exchange for a review.
Thank you James Renner and thank you to karen (no caps)- for providing it to me. This is a solid 4 star book!...but I did have a couple of reasons why I didn't add that extra star that I will touch on later...but first let me sum up what this book is about....
February 9, 2004- Maura Murray disappeared off the face of the earth.
Maura- a nursing student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst- left campus- packing her car, emailing her professors and work supervisor that she was taking a week off due to a family emergency.
There was no family emergency.
What there was, was a bunch of puzzles left behind to solve. On the surface a good student, a zest for life- with everything going for her- looks...smarts, a happy close knit family, a loving supportive fiance....a brilliant future ahead of her. The stuff people don't just leave behind...
...but the investigation of her disappearance- on a dark semi-isolated road uncovered- a drinking problem, possible family secrets, a pending court case, and maybe a not-so-perfect life.
Was she taken??? Or did she disappear by choice? This is something we will never know- unless she is found someday...dead...or alive.
So what did I have problems with?
I am not a fan of internet -couch potato- sleuths... and Mr. Renner is not one of those. He goes out of his bubble to try to track down the story- but he does seem to have a respect for those who don't- that I have to disagree with. I think they do more harm than good- and their judgments make me cringe most times. Without all the facts you cannot- judge the situation...period.
The other area I disagree with him on is even bigger...and concerns Maura Murray's family dynamics.
James Renner cannot fathom a world in which a family would not welcome his "help"...and I have to completely smash his views on this...
My family would not want you involved if I ever disappeared. I can guarantee it.
It doesn't mean they don't love me. It means they would not want their life spewed over the unforgivable internet. It doesn't mean they are odd...it doesn't mean that they are suspicious or responsible for my death somehow or that they helped me disappear. It means they are private. That I am private. It means that there are things I wouldn't want everyone to know (I have not always lived the perfect life)...it means that there are things that THEY wouldn't want everyone to know about them (they have also lived a life not so perfect). Just because you don't mind the world knowing all of your baggage and your flaws- it doesn't mean that everyone lives in that same head space.
Bravo!!!.... for letting the world into your secret (sometimes crazy) dark corners- James Renner...but don't judge those....or become suspicious of those who don't want that same scrutiny. It doesn't mean they are uncaring. It just means what it means....and that is- They don't want the world let into their drama. I know in this day and age that seems foreign...but really it is kind of normal.
One day, hopefully we will have all the answers- because Maura and her family deserve to have closure- and I for one think they alllllllllllllll deserve it...regardless of the fact of whether they cooperated with internet sleuths or people writing books.
...but even though I disagree with Mr. Renner on those two very BIG things. This was a book I can recommend wholeheartedly- regardless of our differences.
I came to know author James Renner through his wacky, engrossing, bewitchingly unique novels - The Man from Primrose Lane and The Great Forgetting. And while he has a noteworthy talent spinning wild and crazy tales of speculative fiction, Renner is also a dedicated true crime writer. In fact, the journalism and true crime writing came first. And now he's returned to these stomping grounds in a big way with his new release True Crime Addict.
What sets this true crime book apart from most is not only the exceptionally sharp, punchy, lucid writing, but that Renner very much writes himself into the story as an observer, participant and one could even argue collateral damage to the unsolved Maura Murray missing person case. We realize almost from the opening paragraphs, that this is going to be a very personal journey for Renner, where he not only loses himself down the addicting, obsessive rabbit hole of trying to solve the mystery of a young woman's inexplicable disappearance into seemingly thin air, he also lays bare his own personal demons, that include his young son's struggle with uncontrollable violent outbursts (and quite possibly prescient abilities). This book really is one man's unflinching look into the abyss, and what stares back at him.
Renner is not the only person to have fallen down the rabbit hole of the Maura Murray case (a quick Google search will prove that), but given his personality and dark obsessive tendencies that he comes by quite honestly, Renner is arguably the one who's fallen the hardest and most completely. The publication of this book is the culmination (and hopefully for him) an emotional catharsis of a very long journey that Renner has recorded in detail on his Maura Murray blog that he launched in June 2011.
This book really could not have come at a better time. We seem to be in the midst of a true crime renaissance with recent cultural watershed phenomena like Making a Murderer, The Jinx and the first season of Sarah Koenig's podcast Serial which I became obsessed with when it ran in the fall of 2014. And you might as well throw The People vs OJ on that pile too, because it was also fantastic and drew a huge viewing audience.
I want to thank karen for putting a copy of this book in my hands and it is with great enthusiasm I write this review in the hopes it brings even more much deserved attention to what Renner has accomplished here.
”’How’d I do?’ I asked.
‘Your results were very similar to those of Ted Bundy, the serial killer.’
That’s one of those statements you just can’t unhear.
‘Don’t get too upset,’ said Roberta. ‘You may have the psychopathy of a dangerous man, but so do many cops. In fact, a lot of CEOs would have scored the same as you, or worse. Donald Trump is probably a sociopath. But it’s what makes him successful.’”
Ok, you have just been compared to Ted Bundy and Donald Trump within the space of a few seconds, but it is ok because your therapist has just reassured you that you are smart enough to control those compulsions.
Welcome to James Renner’s world.
To a normal person, this would be an unnerving revelation, but for a guy like James Renner this type of diagnosis is terrifying.
He knows things.
He knows things about his Grandfather Keith, predilections that were unchecked for decades, leaving a multitude of victims in his wake. Renner gets calls from the preschool regarding the out-of-control behavior of his son. The fear, of course, is that he has been a genetic conduit from his grandfather to his son.
That will screw with your head.
I make odd connections in my life all the time. Every time I read a book or watch a movie, I have increased the number of possibilities to experience a moment of serendipity or one of those peculiar tingling situations when I feel the dominos of the universe shuffling around for another play. Renner started reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a few days ago. He stops in a strip club for a diversion, to change the buzz in his head.
”She stood and, gyrating to the music, turned around. The bottom half of her back was covered by a beautiful, inky-black dragon.
‘Do you like it?’
I am no longer surprised by the weird coincidences that occur in my life. After writing about crime for some years, I came to believe that there was a kind of blueprint to the universe, a certain order to the shape of things. ‘Fearful symmetry’, I’ve called it.”
Renner becomes obsessed with missing information, with missing people, with crimes that refuse to be solved. For someone with his psychopathic tendencies, is he really just living vicariously through the actions of other psychopaths? To me the old adage “use a thief to catch a thief” is really relevant here. Who better to catch a psychopath than another psychopath?
The devil is in the details.
Maura Murray just disappears. It was as if the Earth just swallowed her up. She is a good girl, but there are cracks in the veneer of all that goodness. She is promiscuous. She drinks too much. She has been caught stealing. She is rebelling against the set arc of her life. She is a world class runner, and one thing runners do well....is run.
Did she run or did someone kill her? As Renner investigates, he keeps hitting walls. The family has closed around the father, and he is showing up like a bad penny whenever Renner tries to get someone from the family to talk. Maura’s father doesn’t trust his intentions, and half the time the writer isn’t sure he trusts his own intentions either.
What made this book really interesting to me was the fact that Renner is inviting me to go along for the ride. He shows how he painstakingly works his way through piles of information from which he gleans slender leads and a bunch of dead ends. We talk to people who provide new lines of inquiry, and when a door is slammed in Renner’s face, it is slammed in mine as well. I can understand how Renner becomes obsessed with these cases. The police have taken it as far as they can take it, but if a guy like Renner keeps digging, he might just find that nugget that breaks the whole case wide open.
The missing woman and his life start to blur together. The problems with the case bleed into his personal life. His personal life colors the aspects of the case. It is impossible for him not to think about the issues with his grandfather without thinking about the problems with his son. Maura was very close with her father, and their relationship is a flag in his brain whipping in the wind. What does her father know?
He can almost see her. He can almost fit the eyes and hooks together. The truth is there, just barely out of reach. He sees improvement in his son. He reaches a resolution with his feelings about his grandfather. Sometimes writing a book is better than therapy.
Compelling and honest, this is one not to miss.
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