Wednesday, February 26, 2014

CBR6 #6: The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo

If you are expecting this to be an Ann Rule-style book that simply details a bunch of cases, you will be disappointed. However, if you're looking for crime-fighting combined with an excellent, multi-year character study of three very different men who come together to solve murders, then this is your story.

The Murder Room details the forming of the Vidocq Society, a group that brings together the best minds from a variety of crime-fighting disciplines (medical examiners, forensic artists, dentists, and anthropologists, police detectives, customs agents, profilers, psychologists, district attorneys, and others) to network and to put their considerable brain-power toward solving cold cases. The three dynamic men behind this endeavor were William Fleisher (former FBI agent and mensch), Frank Bender (eccentric and flamboyant forensic artist), and Richard Walter (equally eccentric and slightly grim profiler)and this book is just as much a tale of their ongoing friendship than it is stories of solved murders.

The book does tend to skip around a bit chronologically, and can occasionally be difficult to follow. There are also some story threads that simply disappear, and are left without any conclusion. However, these men are all fascinating in their own ways, and their interactions with each other are nearly as intriguing as the cases they work on.

I'd definitely recommend this to any true crime lovers who are also interested in well-written character studies.

CBR6 #5: The Heart and the Fist by Eric Greitens

Eric Greitens's story of his life, and of the widely varied experiences he has had is a pretty good read.

Greitens grew up fairly privileged, but always had a desire to help and serve others. He combined his love for humanitarian service with a fighter's desire to conquer and achieve, and managed to make them into a life of which he could be proud.

The book is a bit scattershot, focusing longer on some aspects of the author's life than others -- the main sections concerned his collegiate boxing training, his college and post-college humanitarian missions to a variety of countries, and his training as a Navy SEAL. There were some other areas that I would have liked more detailed description of, but at the same time, I can see how he was trying to fit everything into the theme of the heart (charity work) and fist (boxing/military) working together in order to try and improve the world.

This book reminded me of the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, except Eric Greitens came off a lot more relateable and less like a self-righteous prig.

On the whole I'd recommend this, particularly to those who are struggling to figure out how they might combine power and compassion in order to help others.