TRUE CRIME REVIEW

EVIDENCE OF LOVE

FIVE Engrossing Stars

  • Authors: John Bloom, Jim Atkinson
  • Publication Date: May 1, 1985

I actually read this for the first time back in 1985 when I was a mere toddler. Well, maybe a little older than that. I grew up in Plano, TX (go Wildcats!) and I remember this Friday the 13th in 1980 almost like it was yesterday.

I had just graduated from high school a few days before. It was the hottest summer in a sweltering Texas history of summers. And most importantly, the very first Friday the 13th movie series was being released in theaters that night. Friday+the+13th+1980

But that afternoon, an average housewife walked in to her friend’s house after vacation Bible school  and butchered her with an ax. FORTY splintering and brutal whacks to her face.

This happened about 5 miles away in a new subdivision of homes right down the road from the Southfork Ranch of Dallas TV fame.

At first, there was news that an escaped mental patient was the killer. OMG. We were actually living out the Friday the 13th movie plot. The unresolved panic went on for a couple of weeks before an arrest was made. And it wasn’t a known psycho, it was Candy Montgomery. Sweet, beloved popular church member.

This case, more than any other in my life, shook me to the core. It was so close to home. It was so crazy. So bizarre. Our little town was obsessed with wanting to know why…I started reading anything I could get my hands on–which wasn’t much. We didn’t have Reddit to scour and hash out our theories and we didn’t have Twitter to get the latest updates. Heck, even the newspaper articles were already a couple of days old by the time they were published and delivered to the front driveway.

What we did have was gossip. Chatter, stories and tales, but all speculation. None of it made sense. You can imagine by the time this fantastic book was published a few years later, it was snatched off the shelves so fast I’m sure it broke records. Finally we could have some answers about what happened that unforgettable day.

John Bloom and Jim Atkinson were local journalists at the time and somehow, who knows how, they were able to get up close and personal with all the major players in this demented story. I think journalists were a lot more trusted and respected back then. You don’t see a lot of murder defendants spilling their stories these days.

We hear first-hand from Candy Montgomery, her childhood, her strict upbringing, salacious details of her marriage. She tells Bloom exactly what happened that murderous day in a chilling, hypnotic tone. I don’t believe Montgomery has ever given anymore interviews–so it is especially effective in this book. Bloom takes us from beginning to end (yes, the shocking trial verdict!!!) and leaves no details out. Yes, it’s juicy and sensationalist, but utterly mesmerizing.

I hadn’t thought of this book in awhile, but I saw it mentioned in a Goodreads Blog featuring psychological suspense authors Laura Lippman and Alice Bolin sharing their favorites. Thanks for reminding me to have another look at one of the best true crime novels out there. I’m pleased to report it still holds up. 38 years later, it is as bizarre and fascinating as ever.

Brush with infamy note: I sat right behind Candy Montgomery at a movie in Dallas. This was either right before her trial or afterwards, I don’t remember which movie (definitely not Friday the 13th) probably a rom-com– because I remember her smiling and laughing during it. Yes, I stared at her for a long time. Trying to read her face. I could not see any traces of an ax-murderer.  She was just perfectly ordinary:  permed teacher-hair and lovely skin and white teeth. Which was all the more terrifying to me.

evidence of love

 

 

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

5/5 stars

  • Member of the Twister Hall of Fame
  • Author: Paula Hawkins
  • Published January 13th 2015 by Riverhead Books

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

The Girl on the Train: A Novel Amazon Great Kindle Deal!

This story is actually told from three women’s points of view. For all intents and purposes, you will only remember Rachel. She’s the main character and her drunken memories help to create, dare I say it?  The all-time MOST UNRELIABLE  NARRATOR in literary history.  That’s why I love this book so much!  Well, one of the reasons. Actually, every character in this book is unreliable. Who can you trust? NO ONE. Put the clues together and solve this mystery yourself.

The new label being thrown around these days is “domestic noir” and I believe describes this sub-genre much better than “psychological thriller”or “chick” noir (ick).  This is the tribe of books I have embraced. And millions others. We may be in danger of overdosing on domestic noir now.

The novelist, Julia Crouch, described the subgenre in her blog in 2013. “In a nutshell, Domestic Noir takes place primarily in homes and workplaces, concerns itself largely (but not exclusively) with the female experience, is based around relationships and takes as its base a broadly feminist view that the domestic sphere is a challenging and sometimes dangerous prospect for its inhabitants.”

Paula Hawkins set the domestic noir scene on fire with this book. We had all been waiting (2 years!) for someone to replace Gillian Flynn on the bestseller list and she did it. Girl on the the Train is a much more delicious variation on the textbook standard that Gone Girl had established. I think it is an easier, faster read than Gone Girl and not as cynically, bitterly dark and depressing as Gone Girl.

The highly anticipated movie version of The Girl on the Train left me deflated. I thought The_Girl_on_The_Trainit was shot in such a slick manner, way too glossy while the book was unabashedly gritty. I couldn’t get past that! Oh, Hollywood. What are ya gonna do about it?  I love Emily Blunt as Rachel. But, the movie is a miss. Read the book.

BTW: the Audible version is outstanding.

DARK WATER film review

5/5 stars (for the BACKSTORY)

3/5 stars (if watched at face value)

 

Dark Water is a 2005 American horror film directed by Walter Salles, starring Jennifer
Connelly and Tim Roth. The film is a remake of the 2002 Japanese film of the same name which is in turn based on the short story “Floating Water” by Koji Suzuki, who also wrote the Ring Trilogy. The film also stars John C. Reilly. 

The film was released on July 8, 2005, to mixed reviews and grossed almost $50 million worldwide.

My 20-year old daughter and I started watching this random movie on Cinemax the other night. We neither one had even heard of it before, but I’ve since discovered this movie is anything but random or unheard of.  More on that in a bit.

The movie is set on Roosevelt Island in Manhattan and all of the action takes place in a dilapidated apartment building. This is the story of a newly divorced woman (Dahlia) and her kindergarten-aged daughter (Cecilia) moving out on their own, away from the cheating ex-husband. The neighborhood is rundown, the apartment buildings are stacked on top of each other and everything is gray and depressing. Very post-apocalyptic. This is what $900/month could get you in 2005 NYC.

Dahlia keeps having a problem with water leaking from an above empty apartment into hers and she has all kinds of issues getting it repaired. The super is a strange angry man and there are loud noises coming from the supposedly vacant apartment. All manner of weirdness ensues. Meanwhile, Cecilia suddenly has a new imaginary friend that keeps getting her into trouble at school. The plot is very much centered on this dark icky water that is spilling through their ceiling.

This isn’t a horror film, it is more of a family drama with a supernatural element thrown in. There is a surprise ending (plot twist!) and it’s a decent little movie. It’s no Sixth Sense, but it’s certainly not bad either.

We immediately noticed something strange about this story and setting.  Here’s the thing, this movie is infamous for another reason. The setting includes an old looking water tower on the roof of the apartment building. My daughter and I looked at each other and said immediately “THIS LOOKS LIKE THE CECIL HOTEL!” That’s the only building we’ve ever seen with a water tower on top of it.  If you’re into unsolved mysteries, you probably have seen the strange footage of the young Canadian woman, Elisa Lam. The footage shows her acting really bizarre in the hotel elevator at 2 AM before she disappeared. Her body was later found in that water tower on top of the Los Angeles Cecil Hotel. A quick search of YouTube will give you hundreds of theories and conspiracies about the events that led to her death.

There are few logical explanations of why she died, but her weird behavior, the haunted history of the Cecil Hotel, and the fact that police were not forthcoming with what they found all combined to make a perfect storm of controversy in this young woman’s death.

I know I’m rambling, I get overly invested in unsolved true crime cases. Is this a crime or a suicide? We still don’t know for sure, the coroner did rule that she died of drowning, but no word on why or how. My daughter and I even visited the L.A. hotel last summer in hopes of….I don’t know. Getting a feeling? However,  I had never heard of this movie and all the similarities to the case.

Back to the movie, Dark Water. We immediately started googling about it as the closing credits began, since we couldn’t figure out why this story was familiar.  I suggest you give yourself about 3 hours if you start digging too,  it is one deep rabbit hole. If you are just now looking into this story, you would assume that the movie was loosely based on the Elisa Lam case. Here’s the thing:  Dark Water was filmed years BEFORE the actual incident at the Cecil Hotel. WHAT???  Some similarities that we noticed:Unknown-1.jpeg

  • of course the name, Cecil, with the movie character, Cecilia
  • The Black Dahlia was known to frequent the Cecil hotel and is also the name of the mother in the movie
  • Cecilia’s red jacket looks like Elisa Lam’s red hoodie in the elevator footage
  • In both the film and the Elisa Lam case, guests complained of foul tasting, dark water coming from their taps. Disgustingly, this was due to the decomposing body in the water tank.

There are countless other creepy connections, but these are the the highlights that we picked up on with no idea that Dark Water had already been matched up by thousands of other interested people. Amazon has a great deal on the DVD!  click here >   Dark Water