Inside Job. Dr Rebecca Myers

One of the things that fascinates me is the way the mid works.

This book gives a great insight into the criminal mind, but also the mind of the person that has to deal with those people.

Dr Rebecca Myers is a Forensic Psychologist who has worked with some of the highest profile offenders in the country. This is her memoir of the first few years of her career.

From day one, when she walked into Graymoor Prison as a young, new graduate, to be told she was going to be the Psychologist leading group therapy for some serious sex offenders; to the end of this part of her life where she took part in a disturbing hostage crisis.

She takes us into the sessions and we hear about some disturbing crimes, but it also shows us the thought process of the criminals, and their lack of empathy to the victims.

The sessions are designed to introduce empathy, and start the prisoner on the road to rehabilitation. Frustrating in most cases, and depending on your point of view, either a waste of time, or a valid attempt to put right a deviant mind.

The offenders are only given first names in the book, but I have a feeling I identified at least one by the description of his crimes, and I suspect a bit of research would also identify some of the others.

The book lays out the hierarchy of offenders in the institutions they are locked up in. The contempt shown to offenders by people who have carried out similar crimes, which in their opinion is worse than the crime they carried out.

Most telling is the effect it has on the prison staff. When Myers first went into Graymoor it wasn’t just the inmates who looked at her as a “piece of meat” Even in the early 2000’s she fought sexism and crudity’s from the overwhelmingly male staff.

As she starts to deal with the inmates in the group sessions it has an effect on the way she thinks and acts.

She is honest in the fact that she entered into an adulterous relationship with a colleague, before recognising his controlling behaviour as being similar to that of the inmates they are trying to counsel.

But what I find most telling, is that from the start of the book, all the way up to the last event she covers, she doubts her own ability to be doing the job. Imposter Syndrome.

She is good at her job, but like a lot of people, she considers herself to have almost stumbled from one thing to another, university, to a job in a prison, to leading group sessions, and ultimately being recalled to duty to deal with a hostage situation.

You don’t end up doing the things she’s done by not being good, it’s no coincidence that she’s called in, yet even after a “successful” outcome she still doubts herself.

I really hope there’s a part two to these memoirs. I’ve looked her up and I think she has a lot more to tell.

Trigger warning. This book is a blunt look at sex offenders and their behaviour through group sessions. There are elements of every chapter that could act as a trigger to anybody who has been subject to any form of sexual abuse.

Pages: 313. Audio Book Length: 7.58. Narrator Emma Wilkes. Publisher: Harper Collins. Available now

Murder in the Neighborhood Ellen J Green

In 1949 a young man cracked. He had brought a machete and planned to cut his neighbours heads off, but because that took planning he had time to think about it and something inside him stopped him.

Then, on Labour Day he picked up a gun and went on a twenty minute walk down the street killing people that annoyed him over the years. Some others, a young boy, a man driving his car, we’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In the end thirteen people lay dead.

The police knew who had done it and made a very quick arrest.

Howard Unruh was a bookish introvert who nobody though of as a threat. What made him flip, the vandalism of a back gate.

This is the story of that day, and the decades that followed. Researched deeply in the community.

Told through the story of survivors and people from the neighbourhood.

I had never heard of Unruh until I picked this book up. The first thing I did was hit Google.

He is thought by many to be Americas first “Mass Shooter” the first to pick up weapons and go on a shooting spree.

So why had I never heard of him. I’m a true crime fan. You would have thought he would have cropped up in my reading, or I’d have seen a TV documentary about the killings.

I think that is what I enjoyed so much about this book. I was new to this crime. Ellen J Green has done a marvellous job of tying together accounts and information from people who were there on the day or who knew the perpetrator and, or, his victims.

Most poignantly the accounts of Raymond, a young boy who witnessed the shootings and how he was affected by them. But most of all Unruh’s mother, who was left living in the small community he had wrecked havoc in, and how she had to live with his actions.

What drove a former model soldier, who had served in the later part of WWII, a man known for his love of the Bible to become Americas first mass shooter.

He was diagnosed to have severe mental health issues, but up until the shooting there doesn’t seem to be much of a worry about him.

He spent the rest of his life in a Maximum Security Hospital.

Did he get away with something there, was he as badly affected by mental health issues as he was diagnosed with.

I’ll let you decide.

Print length: 311 pages. Publisher: Thread. Publishing date: April 28th 2022

American Sherlock. Kate Winkler Dawson

I had heard of Edward Oscar Heinrich, but in somewhat of an urban myth type of way.

I knew he was a real person, and his name seemed to crop up on the edges of research I had done whilst gaining Forensic Qualifications.

So when I saw this book was available to review I knew I was going to read it. Originally I was going to use it as a literacy pallet cleanser, reading a chapter between books. That went out of the window after the first chapter

If you don’t know who Edward Oscar Heinrich is imagine a mad Professor who approached the Police and said science can solve crimes. Now think this happened in the early 1930’s

A lot of his work has gone unrecorded for years, after some of his methods were called into doubt.

But after his death in 1953, at the age of 72, all of his files and equipment went into storage. In the late 1960s the collection was bequeathed to the University of California where it lay untouched for nearly 50 years until the author requested permission to look inside the boxes, and what a treasure chest she opened

Heinrich was integral in some of the most high profile cases of the 20’s, 30s and 40’s

The first case that brought him to attention was when he assisted police in Portland with a crime that had gone wrong. 3 men had tried to stop a train and rob it, a bit like the UK’s Great Train Robbery, only this one went very wrong

The men only succeeded in blowing the train up and killing 4 people.

Heinrich used science to establish what had happened and helped catch the perpetrators.

And so was born Forensic Scene Examination, and Forensic Science in American Law enforcement.

This book looks at some of his more notable, and in some cases infamous, cases.

This is more than a book, it’s a gateway, via Google, into some brilliant reading.

Whether you are a True Crime fan, a Crime Fiction fan, or just somebody who enjoys a good book, you will live this.

But be prepared, it’s going to lead to a lot of reading outside of the covers of this book.

Pages: 359. Publisher U.K: Icon Books. Available now

Boots in the Ashes. Cynthia Beebe

Boots in the Ashes. Cynthia Beebe

A few weeks ago I saw a post on twitter announcing the publication date of a book, Boots in Ashes. Given my 30 years in the Fire Service this caught my attention straight away. When I dug around a bit and found that it was a memoir of an ATF Special Agent, who specialised in Fire and Explosion investigation, the discipline I specialised in for the last 12 of those 30 years, I knew it was a book I wanted to read.

Thankfully I managed to contact the author, Cynthia Beebe, and she helped me get my hands on a copy. That in itself must have been brave, after all she was going to let a subject matter expert review her book. Well I’m glad she did because this is a fantastic read.

Cynthia plots the course of her career by looking at some of the landmark cases she worked on, and some of the experiences she had whilst serving as a Special Agent in the ATF

The cases include the bombing of two Judges homes, targeted “Hits”, and her pursuit of Hells Angel type biker gangs. The book took me longer than usual to read because every time she mentioned a case I reached for Google and got lost in a worm hole of reports and witness accounts. This added a depth to the book, and in fairness each of these stories could have been a true crime book on its own. I hope that there will be another book where we get to hear about some more of her work.

It’s not just the cases though, it’s the way she describes the scenes. That first time she attended a Fire Scene and the confusion she felt at the destruction of the building which had been ravaged by fire. The determination she had to ensure that justice was done and that the culprit was found and taken to court.

The frustrations of working with, what a times were bigoted old men, makes Cynthia’s achievements even more impressive. When I teach University students one of the most often asked questions, by the young women in the class, is can women make good firefighters. My answer is always the same. Some of the best firefighters I ever served with were women. All of the worst firefighters I ever served with were men. Hopefully the question will stop one day but until then I’m going to point those who ask it in the direction of this book.

This book will be a great read for anybody who is into true crime, but I think there will be a lot of Fire Investigators and Crime Scene Investigators in the UK that will be looking for a copy, and they are going to love it

Published in the UK on 25the February 2020 and available on Amazon