Family, Friends and Neighbors: Stories of Murder and Betrayal

Visible Ink. Jan. 2024. 288p. ISBN 9781578598441. pap. $19.95. REF
In his latest exploration into the realm of true crime, Estep (The Serial Killer Next Door) delves beyond the sensationalism surrounding infamous serial killers. He draws readers’ attention to a chilling reality: murder is more likely to be perpetrated by someone known to the victim, rather than a stranger. That’s a concept that challenges the prevaling narrative. Estep meticulously dissects the alarming phenomenon of familicide, a gruesome subset of violent crimes often fueled by abuse and power dynamics within relationships. He skillfully uncovers patterns and motives by drawing on a rich array of cases, from historical instances such as Lizzie Borden to contemporary tragedies including Chris Watts, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to strangling his wife and smothering his two daughters, both under the age of five. The author has a rational approach and impartial analysis of the facts, presenting a varied cross section of familial murder cases. There is a common thread of desperation and the quest for escape in the motives behind these crimes. A useful index and an extensive appendix for victims and survivors of domestic violence are included.
VERDICT A good introductory exploration into the minds of killers who defy conventional stereotypes.
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