SOCIAL SCIENCES

Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime and Obsession

Scribner. Aug. 2019. 256p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781501188886. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501188909. CRIME
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Notorious murder cases linger in the American imagination. Journalist and debut author Monroe argues that women, especially, are responsible for the growing fascination with true crime both as media consumers and as indirect participants. An introductory chapter outlines the rationale for the ten-year study. Based on interviews and other primary sources, chapters detail examples of the roles that women play in violent crime: detective, victim, defender, and killer. The life of Frances Glessner Lee, described as the “mother of forensics,” exemplifies the detective role. Sharon Tate’s 1969 murder forms the basis for the victim role. Women as defenders are illustrated by a death-row reversal case. The book concludes with the tragic story of a failed murder spree in the style of Columbine. Each case is described in historical context with a focus on the dramatic involvement of key figures. Astonishing details are reported in the Tate case.
VERDICT This provocative work is best suited to readers with a strong interest in true crime and its historical roots. Though lacking the rigor and documentation of an academic work, it manages to create an original and bold contribution to the genre.

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