Tag Archive: murder


I found a misused copy of this paperback on the shelf of my local swap shack (basically a large lean-to filled with “free to a good home” items) and it begged to be picked up. Like many I knew about the Lovely Bones, it was a bestseller after all, and I had seen the movie, but I had not read the book. So nearly 15 years after it had originally been published I started my secondhand copy with the dark ring shaped stain (suggesting it had functioned as a coffee mug holder way more than as a stunning piece of literature). I am happy to report that where it fails as a coaster it more than succeeds as a work of fiction.

This book opens with one of the most hit you in the chest lines I have ever read.


In my opinion books live and die in the first chapter, if I’m not hooked by the end of Chapter 1 it’s going to be a slog. This book had me by paragraph 1!

There are many things to love about this book, and just as many ways to approach this review. I won’t be sumerizing, go find another review if you are looking for a book report, or doing an in depth character analysis. I will instead give you 5 reasons why you must read this book (as I see them anyway).

  1. The tension- If you love a good who done it mystery or crime drama don’t pass this book up. You may know who did what but believe me there is tension in spades. Will the guilty party be found out? Will Susie figure out how to live in her heaven and in her family’s world? What impact will this have on everyone who was touched by Susie? Can a family torn apart by violence pull together? I could go on too. Don’t be fooled, knowing the killer’s identity does not mean that this story will disappoint in the surprise or gasp worthy moments.
  2. It is not a let’s hold hands and cry cathartically book-So I recently tried to convince someone to read the book and the response was “I don’t like books about little girls being murdered” followed by the “is something wrong with you?” look. That is not this book! Yes of course there are sad moments, Susie and her family grapple with some very serious things, but for me at least it was way more joyous than depressing. For example I felt sheer joy when Lindsey falls in love, laughed out loud at/with Grandma Lynn, and smiled from ear to ear as Ruth cajoles Ray into friendship. Don’t let the emotion behind this story scare you off, embrace it. The young feel everything as passionate extremes allow yourself to get swept up in it, it is Susie’s story after all take this opportunity to look through another’s eyes.
  3. For the lines you will want to highlight and quote (though I cannot condone book disfigurement)- This book is full of memorable lines and I am sure different ones will stand out depending on what you need. Goodreads lists over 200 and I am sure there are even more quotable lines. As I read The Lovely  Bones I was struck by how many people could be reached by Alice Sebold’s words. I found lines to share with those struggling with loss, that I would love to text to my young cousins, to help the many who never felt like they belonged in their current situation, to inspire, to encourage, and to just mull over. The words in this book are living things and each read breaths new life into them.
  4. It is better (longer) than the movie- Now I know that every time you hear this sentence it is accompanied by a look of disdain, but that’s not how I mean it. What I mean is the movie is constrained by time. There is only so much time which can pass during a normal length feature film before the audience loses focus. Whereas books can be as long as they want spanning decades of time. So while the movie keeps us focused on let’s say the next five years surrounding Susie’s murder The book reaches further into the future where we see Lindsey graduate college, Ray working towards an MD, and an aging Mr. Harvey. The reason I like the extended time line is twofold. Firstly, it suggests, with subtlety, the timelessness of Susie’s heaven. The jumps in time are not the same from chapter to chapter and we follow her friends and family for different stretches of time as well. To me this makes perfect sense and is a wonderful way to show the disconnect between Susie and everyone still living on earth. Secondly, it puts a fine point on the fact that Susie doesn’t get to grow up. A little harsh I suppose but true. This is a life and death story told by a young adult and her perspective cannot change because she cannot change (which is important to how the story ends). Mr. Harvey is a man and Susie is a girl if she becomes a woman the fear of him will lessen. So in my opinion the time in the book is critical both explaining and being explained by the story making the book better than the movie.
  5. Karma- So whether or not you believe in the religious component of karma most of us like the idea of good things happening for good people and bad things happening to bad people. Believe it or not, but I think this book adheres to this universal ideology. Yes, something horrible happens to Susie but she is not lessened by it George Harvey is. She is in a perfect world and she receives the ultimate gift in the end (not to give anything away here is tricky). While this may seem like a small consolation I still believe it counts because Susie gets joy, love, and wonder while Mr. Harvey does not. His fate is darker and well deserved.

Susie’s voice is refreshing and the story is captivating, hit the library stacks you will be glad you did.

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Sin Eater (6 of 7)

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The rain starts up signifying the nearing end of my night. The wail of an infant pulls at me. I follow the sound to a dirty vacant lot where some tweeking crack whore has abandoned her misbegotten offspring. Even covered in filth its the purest thing I’ve seen tonight, the closest to true white this grey world can offer.

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Tomorrow is the last post in this serial blog.  I hope I kept your interest.  Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

Sin Eater (5 of 7)

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Would be John number three hits the pavement hard. The looker with the eyes scoffs as she bends down to relieve the man of his valuables. In her stilettos she cuts quite the backlit silhouette pocketing her treasures. She never hears me as I wrap her in my embrace. There’s no need to whisper in her ear she’s already asking herself if it was worth it. I bet…our answers differ.

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Did you think it would be the woman or the man after yesterday’s post?  Hope I have kept you interested.  Thanks for reading!

Sin Eater (4 of 7)

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The jazzy music slides over her skin like smokey silk. Her practiced smile barely hides the animal hunger in her deeply kohled eyes, but all the poor sucker on the stool beside her sees is the come hither in her bold touch and shy words.

I see blind leading blind.

He’s no angel. It’s not to gently escort her home that he takes her arm, and she knows it.

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Sin Eater (3 of 7)

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I walk away as if nothing happened because nothing did. The corpse behind me is further diminished with each step, but the discord it represents is not. This one calculated strike has not, cannot, rebalance the scales. So I continue on. My measured footfall upon the concrete is steady, and the building thunder threatening a torrential downpour reassuring. Let the heavens weep for humanity.

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Hello, this is part three of of a serial blog which started on Monday the 17th.  Thanks for reading.

Sin Eater (2 of 7)

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I lean in closer looking at the world reflected in his ruddy mess. Never had the dark stains upon him been more clear than in that moment. He gave nothing to the greater good and all it cost him was everything. His one and only gift was color to this grey place, and not even that did he give willingly.

The moment passes, and the puddle becomes nothing more than the tacky ink of a poorly drafted life.

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If you are still with me from yesterday yay, if not then go back one post to better understand this post 🙂  Happy readings!

Sin Eater (1 of 7)

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All rights to owner: Sin City cityscape

I see a world of greys masquerading as one of blacks and whites. This pompous man beneath my knife is cloaked in the white of innocence because there is no chargeable wrong in his past. I cannot connect him to any criminal findings, but innocent…I think not. I watched as the small sins of this arrogant man piled up into monstrous mountains that rival even the most heinous of offenders. My knife falls and the world around me lightens. Crimson.

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This is part one of a story which I have broken into seven pieces.  I will be posting each of these parts on consecutive days.  This is the first time I have truly serial blogged so…I hope you come with me on this journey.  Also, that I make it worth your wait.  Thanks for reading!

Becoming one of my little secrets

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I don’t exist, well…technically I don’t exist.  What I mean to say is that no one who has ever met me would admit to it.  Which is basically the same thing.

It is an interesting state of being, namelessness.  It offers amazing amounts of opportunity to those creative enough to make use of it.

Let me explain.  People notice things, but not a lack of the same thing.  For instance…your car being repossessed surprises and upsets you, but its lack of repossession elicits no response.  Now more specifically dead bodies, when found, cause quite a stir.  Question after question. Was it natural, murder, suicide?  Who was this person, and how did this happen?  Who could have done this, and why?  These questions can echo out into unforeseeable situations.  However, if no body is found then no one reacts.  Of course there are exceptions, but the number of people who make as many waves by being missing as they do by being dead is relatively small.

I make the latter happen.

Do you regrettably, have a little problem that needs disposed of?  I just might know of an open grave that could be of service, a foundation ready for concrete, or a half full barrel of sulfuric acid.  And for the right price your little problem can become one of my little secrets.

So if you find yourself in a sticky situation you better wish upon a star that I find you and your bank account worthy…because Jiminy Cricket ain’t got nothing on me.

It’s never like how they show it in the movies, when things feel like they are slowing down its rarely so we can gain some clarity usually it’s because the complexity level just ratcheted up a notch.  Too much is happening and the human brain cannot sort it all out so everything slows down, not usually a good thing as it slows reaction time.  For instance, move head to avoid speeding object goes from ‘priority one’ to ‘take a number please’, really really not good, when your mind is also dealing with let’s say a bleeding arm and ringing ears.  However, there are exceptions to the rule though they are far and few between, whatever Hollywood tells you.  This…is mine. 

I am Jamie Sanger.  I grew up in a typical childhood, dad worked too much while mom took care of us kids, you know normal stuff.  I suffered through the usual young adulthood, filled with broken hearts and curfews, and now I am the quintessential 20 something adult.  My parents have divorced, I have lost between one and five friends I graduated high school with, and I work a job that grants me maybe one week’s worth of vacation time, counting sick days.  Since I suffer from that unique brand of guilt only those who have left home to purse a dream can know, I spend my meager vacation time back at my old stomping grounds.  Where I am obliged to see every family member possible while tiptoeing around my past as a form of relaxation.  However, only a small fraction of this information will be useful to you in understanding my moment of clarity A) when I travel I come home and B) I have lost friends.  Moving on.

I am taking a four day weekend to come home and see my newest batch of cousins, a housewarming at my aunt’s new modern home, and see my sister who I have missed the last two times I have visited.  As I close my eyes on my packed bags and list of “do not forgets” which I must remember to do before I leave I feel anxious about all the relaxation I will soon be dealing with, and so I dream. 

I dream of missing friends, deserted cars, and his eyes, his creepy now red now yellow burning eyes.  I wake myself up trying to articulate the words, “I hate you, I fucking hate you,” through my tears.  I thought that I was past Kelly’s murder, turns out I was wrong.  See two years back I came home with one purpose, friend time with Kelly.  However, plans often go awry.  When she neglected to show up at the airport I was pissed, when she refused to answer my calls I got worried.  They found her car, empty and deserted, and her boyfriend Trent, but not even one of Kelly’s hairs.  I can still feel the hate pouring off of Trent and his red eyes as I publicly accused him of hurting Kelly, but with no evidence Trent didn’t even see jail time.  Her murder simply dismissed as a runaway.

I have made it past the obstacle course they call an airport and now reside in seat 23B near the engine. All the loud angry burning of jet fuel creates a form of white noise which lulls me to sleep. Straight into the outstretched arms of my dreams, my twisted poignant dreams. Again I see his eyes, yellow this time, watching me from the dark as I search in vain for any scrap of Kelly in that terribly beat up old Toyota she still drove from high school. The car just sits there useless and empty clean except for the burning yellow eyes I catch marring every inch of reflective surface. I wake up thrashing as a stewardess jumps back from having leaned in to whisper ma’am at me with that itchy feeling that someone is watching. Not to far off the mark apparently as I was mumbling in my fitful sleep and disturbing the other passengers. She just wanted to make sure I was alright I’m sure that and to wake me up so I stopped whatever I was doing.

So I sit blurry eyed and drink my caffeine silently waiting for the tarmac to rush up and meet the plane signaling that I am home.

Tonight is the house warming I am expected to attend. I have slept maybe four restless hours out of the last 24, but still I pile into the car with my sister and mother. We ride in the quiet you would expect of people who knew each other well but don’t want to discuss anything meaningful. Comfortable. We walk in the dark to the door of this new modern house and I think I see a cat’s yellow stare measuring our progress. I shake my head to clear it, after all I’m tired. Through the door we meet a foyer which is unnecessarily walled off with a wall which doesn’t even reach the ceiling. Inside door number two family mingles loud and aimless. I take a seat facing the silly second door and zone out.

I could not tell you how much time passes but suddenly Trent is rushing the second door. He is shouting obscenities and threatening myself and my family. I run for the door begging for help from my nearest cousin. And then it happens. While I’m frantic with fear for my family, am physically trying to force Trent back out the door, and my mind is attempting to make sense of his verbal assault, everything slows down. I am face to face with my nightmare his vermilion eyes locked on to my amber ones, and its like I’m falling through the shards of mirrored glass I call my memory.

“I’ve seen this before.”

“What have you seen Jamie,” a disembodied male voice asks.

“Eyes look like that.”

“When, Jamie? Where have you seen this before?”

“I can’t…”

“Let yourself remember Jamie.”

The lights are the gross brightness of high wattage electric bulbs, the floor is aged broken tile, and walls are some version of faded yellow. All I can hear is the buzz of the bulbs till a faucet opens. Then harsh scrubbing and pouring water fills my ears. I force myself to open my eyes and take in the scene. I see a girl standing at the sink scrubbing her hands so hard they must have started to bleed because red water splashes over the porcelain edge. I look up and into the mirror and see the now red now yellow eyes staring back at me. The color changes keep time with the flickering harsh electric light.

“Its a reflection.”

“What is? Jamie what are you seeing?”

“It must be the blood. The blood reflecting in the eyes.”

“Whose eyes Jamie? Whose eyes do you see?”

“Red blood in amber eyes…dead eyes. Mine…my eyes…my amber eyes.”

“Jamie on the count of three I want you to wake up. Do you here me? One…two…three.”

Jamie Sanger blinked as she sat up from her reclined position on the couch and faced both Detective Halloway and Dr. Bernside. “Did the hypnosis help,” she asked excitedly, “will it be able to help find Kelly?”

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As seen on DeviantART Amber Eyes by JuLyFriDay

To Die a Natural Death

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I know what kills me. 

Strange isn’t it.

Have you ever thought of how it is that deaths are considered natural.  I mean if anyone over the age of let’s say 75 is found to have expired in the night there are no sirens or even questions really.  They are dead and if its a surprise its not shocking, but natural. 

Well I am much younger than 75 and I can hear my sirens coming.  If only they could ask their questions to me.

As it stands they will not be able to, but you, you, can know the story of me.

Let me start with the basics I am 23, a college graduate with all the bright promise of a future extending before me in all directions, and I have always fancied myself as fearless.  Now I don’t mean that you couldn’t scare me, because I very easily startle, I mean that I go for things other girls I grew up with wouldn’t.  I left to go to school, out of state, I am not yet married with children, and I live alone.  Now I’m brave not stupid.  I lock my doors, use my security system, and sleep with Sweetums, my Irish Wolfhound.  So some of my fearlessness is born of others, but still for a 5’8″ transplant from the Midwest I think I’m doing pretty good here in Philly.

So in case you need a better visual reference I am one of those girls you would walk past.  Though I am tallish I consider myself rather plain.  As a matter of fact -ish might be the best description of me I could give.  For instance at 5’8″ I’m tallish, my shoulder length hair is brownish, meaning that I would never pass for a true blonde or brunette, and I have hazel eyes which tend toward being greenish.  I have a moderately athletic body type which I give credit to Sweetums for, as I must run to keep up with him and use my upper body strength to keep him from the food vendor’s wares.

Well there you have it nothing special about me so, why the death? Good question.

My fairly small group of friends consists of my two former college roommates, Ashley and Maria, the four other interns who I share the “bull pin” with, Greg, Tracy, Raj, and Lynn, their significant others, and finally Mark.  Mark is my version of an ideal boyfriend, he has classic good looks, dark blue eyes and sandy blond hair, he likes my friends, and takes me serious though he can be a complete goofball.  We met by chance on one of the SEPTA buses, I was on it to get to the airport and he was on it to get to work.  I was reading, one of my favorite past times, and crying as one of the main characters had just died.  He offered me a klenex and asked if I was okay.  When I explained the tears while suffering from both a drippy nose and an extreme blush he laughed, a lot and loudly.  By the time we reached his stop I had his number.

Over the next three months we talked and met up casually for drinks or coffee then Mark asked me on an actual date of dinner, a movie, and dessert.  That was all she wrote, from that point on I was hooked.

So you must be asking yourself, simple life, small group of friends, no red flags right other than living by myself in a city such as Philadelphia.  You’d be right too.

Everything had been going great I had a job, friends, and a guy in my life.  Only hiccup was that Mark was next in line for a promotion at work which would result in his relocation to Boston.  So I had become the sad depressing friend who brings everyone down; alternating between teary silences and angry outbursts.  Mark hated that I was so upset but with the upcoming move he had more on his plate than a sad girlfriend, so my friends picked up his slack.  I was invited to girls nights, movie marathons, and any other event they could scrounge up.  Surprisingly Greg and Laura were my biggest champions in any moment of emptiness I could call them up and never feel like a third wheel.

Mark left, I was proud and happy for him.  We had decided to stay together, he wold have to come back to Philly at least once a month and there was no time like the present to visit more of the Northeast, in my opinion, specifically Massachusetts.  It would be hard, but it would work.  So after a tearful goodbye I took the SEPTA back home.  Everyone had wanted to meet up for drinks, but I bowed out as gracefully as I could promising next weekend would be better.  Instead I opted for a long hot shower, where tears could fall freely without judgement or notice, and the unopened bottle of moscato wine.  I’m not proud of myself, drinking alone while watching t.v. in the dark was not a very mature way of dealing.

Sometime after I had finished the bottle and started watching bad reruns my doorbell rang.  It was Greg, a very upset Greg at that.  I opened the door immediately.  He told me about some trouble he and Laura were having and that she had given him his walking papers.  I told him there was no way this would hold up they were great together she would calm down just wait it out and see.  He shook his head so violently my head ached in sympathy.

“No we’re done.”

“How can you think that, Greg?  You love each other.”

“Not for a long time now.  I’ve just been waiting for the right moment to tell her.”  He looked right at me then my mouth hanging open in my haze of wine and surprise.  “I love someone else.”

“That’s some low shit Greg,” I said sitting next to him on my couch, “How could you do that to Laura?”

“But now I can be with the person I love, and you can be with me.”

The sentence didn’t even register until he had jumped on me pinning me against the couch, kissing me hard, hands everywhere.  I bit his lip and slapped his face.  “What the hell Greg?” I was now standing and backing away from the living room.

He stood and looked out the window as he gingerly touched his bleeding lip.  “I’ve waited for you, was always there for you…”

“As a friend,” I interrupted frantically.

“You are mine now, screw Mark and Laura they could never hold a candle to us.”

He jumped forward slamming my head back into the door frame, pulled me up the stairs to my bedroom, and threw me on the bed.  As he pushed Sweetums out the door I tried to make it to my window.  It over looked the street and a very large oak tree I was quasi sure I could shimmy down.  I never made it to the window though Greg was on me in an instant.  I fought with every ounce of strength I had cursing the wine and my need to lick my wounds alone, and praying that Sweetums could get past the locked door somehow.  He was still trying to make some kind of move on me because when I lashed out to hurt him he just tore at my pajamas or tried to force my mouth to his.  In our awkward battle we lost balance and he came crashing down on me, smashing the back of my head against the edge of my antique foot board.  I fell as if my strings had been cut. 

He was on me having his way never noticing the blood.

After, as my eyes were starting to go blank and my body continued to go numb all he said was “You should have loved me.”

He was gone, I heard the alarm tweet distress as he left, felt Sweetums lay beside me and worry my face with kisses, distantly I thought I heard sirens, then velvety darkness.

At 23 they would never call my death natural, my murder, but it was love that killed me and what could be more natural than love.

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