Tuesday, February 25, 2014

TRUE CRIME TUESDAY for February 25, 2014

Nun Sentenced to 3 Years For Nuclear Protest

Megan Rice, the nun who broke into a nuclear storage facility, was sentenced to 35 months in federal prison following her conviction in Tennessee. Her co-defendants, Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli, received sentenced of just over 5 years each.

The real harm was to the prestige of the U.S. government. The fact that these defendants were able to get so far with no special training exposed the appalling (and criminal) lack of security at an allegedly "secure nuclear facility". Incredibly, the trio were able to roam around inside the secure facility for two hours before guards arrived, despite the fact that they had set off multiple alarms.

After the trio's arrest, the firm in charge of security was dismissed and Congress held hearings on the break-in.

You can read more about this fiasco here and here.

Be Careful Where You Stick That Thing

A West Virginia doctor was given a sentence of probation after being convicted of molesting one of his patients. The relatively mild sentence may have been influenced by the fact that the victim gave as good as he got. The victim bit off part of the doctor's tongue when he stuck it in the victim's mouth. Read all the details at MSN.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Double Exposure Is A Non Stop Roller Coaster

Michael Lister has produced an incredible tale of suspense and fear with his award winning novel Double Exposure. First published by Tyrus Books, there is a new edition out with an introduction by Michael Connelly.

Remington is deep in the Florida woods, hunting for a trophy. But he doesn't carry a gun. It's a camera. He wants a spectacular photo. A bear, or maybe even the elusive eastern cougar. Something that will prove to his mom and wife that he was destined to be a photographer. And while checking his camera trap left in a tree stand the night before, he indeed finds something amazing captured on the memory card. But it's not a bear, or a bobcat, or even a panther. It's a murder.

Be careful what you wish for.

As the impact of what he's viewing sinks in, Remington realizes he must get back to his ATV and civilization. But he's not alone anymore. Movement triggers the camera, still attached to the tree, and in the growing twilight the strobe flash erupts.

"Did you just take a picture of me?", a voice asks from the woods. With those words begins a frantic night of chase and terror. As the bullets fly above his head, Remington flees deeper into the woods, the murderer's smooth southern voice still echoing in his ear: "This is the end of the line, partner".

Other men join the chase, friends of the killer, who we learn is named Gauge. As his life and the relationship with his mom, his recently deceased dad and his failing marriage literally flash before his eyes, Remington must struggle to escape as the hunters circle around him. With no stars to guide him, encroaching fog and plummeting temperature, he realizes it's going to be a long night.

Using his radio, Gauge begins to talk to Remington, urging him to surrender, almost apologizing for what he has to do. After all, I'm just trying to survive...like you, he tells Remington. Under different circumstances, the two men could have been friends, sitting in a corner diner having breakfast before a hunt. Despite his better judgement, Remington begins to respond to Gauge's friendly banter.

- They're taking bets on you now. You want in?
- What odds can I get?
- Not bad actually. Started at twenty to one, but now they're down to twelve to one.
- Yeah, I'll take some of that. Put me in for a hundred.
- You got it.

The dialogue between the men, hunter and prey, throws the reader off guard and adds to the tension. We like Remington. We're rooting for him. But at some point we find ourselves liking Gauge as well. We don't want to. But we do, in some twisted, creepy way. After all, he's a likeable guy...for a killer.

This story follows a similar plot line as The Most Dangerous Game, the much anthologized story by Richard Connell, but is far better. Probably the finest example of Man Vs. Man I have read in years.

You should read it.

Alone. At Night.

But keep your cell phone handy...in case you need to call a friend. Or 911.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Writers Born Today - Margaret Millar

It's the birthday of Margaret (Sturm) Millar, born February 5, 1915 in Kitchener, Canada. She had less than a typical childhood. Some of her earliest memories involve walking to school past a slaughterhouse, whose stench and sounds of bellowing, dying animals was impossible to ignore. She spent her reading time with the pulp magazine Black Mask, which she devoured with relish. “Some kinds of addiction are considered incurable,” she would say later.

After attending the University of Toronto she married Kenneth Millar, and they moved to California while he served in the navy. She began writing after she was forced to remain in bed following the birth of her daughter. At first, she typed her husband's stories, then began to create her own. Her first novel, The Invisible Worm, was published by Doubleday to critical acclaim. The New Yorker called her "a writer of considerable voltage". She plunged into her second book and never looked back. More psychological thrillers followed, The Devil Loves Me in 1942, Fire Will Freeze in 1944, Do Evil in Return in 1950.

Hollywood bought some of her stories, and she was a favorite of Alfred Hitchcock, who adapted two of her novels, including Beast In View, for his television series.

In 1956, she won an Edgar Award for Beast in View from the Mystery Writers of America. She was the group's President in 1957, and received a Grand Master Award from the MWA in 1983. Her short story, The People Across The Canyon was featured in the recently released anthology, Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives. It was also reprinted in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine in the November 2005 issue as a Mystery Classic. You can listen to an audio broadcast of the story here.

Tragedy struck her family later in life. Her daughter died at the age of 31 and her husband suffered from Alzheimer's before his death in 1983. Macular Degeneration took her eyesight. She coped by writing. She told the Los Angeles Times in an interview, "If I couldn't write now I'd probably go off my rocker. Writing keeps me sane--or as sane as I am,"  She died in 1994.

You can read more about her in Kathleen Sharp's article from the LA Review of Books, The Dangerous Housewife, and Sarah Weinman's article in the National Post, Margaret Millar: The Original Canadian Queen of Crime.

Sarah also included Beast In View in a new collection of suspense novels which she edited. Women Crime Writer's of the 1940s and 50s was released last September by the Library of America.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

True Crime Tuesday for February 4, 2014

Yet Another State Crime Lab Falls Under Scrutiny For Evidence Tampering

In a pattern that has become all too familiar, another state crime lab, this time in Florida, has fallen under scrutiny for evidence tampering. The state police are reviewing hundreds of drug convictions, which could be thrown out if the allegations against one chemist prove true. Working at the Pensacola lab since 2006, the unnamed chemist is accused of replacing prescription drugs with over the counter medications in numerous evidence bags, either to feed a drug habit or for purposes of drug trafficking.

Read more about this latest crime lab scandal at the Christian Science Monitor.

I Can't Believe It Was Bootlegging! (The Dark Side of Margarine)

Meet dangerous felon John McMonigle. He served two stretches in a federal prison in Leavenworth. And what crimes placed him in the same prison as such infamous criminals as "Machine Gun" Kelly, George Moran (Prohibition era rival to Al Capone) and Nazi spy Fritz Duquesne? Mr. McMonigle was convicted twice of bootlegging.

Booze? Guns? Prostitutes? Nope. He was bootlegging margarine.

That's not a typo. There was a time when selling adulterated margarine (ie: dyed yellow instead of the natural white color) was a federal crime. The dairy industry lobbied states and Congress to protect the public against this "heinous" product. Protecting their own interests may have had something to do with it, of course.  Read more about the dark side of margarine and it's criminal history at Slate magazine.

No Cookies For You!

A California girl scout who was selling cookies in her neighborhood got a shock when a man opened his door and pointed a gun at her. The incident was witnessed by the scout's father, who called police and the man, John Dodrill, was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon.

That would certainly make me toss my cookies, but apparently, the girl was not injured. Here's hoping that, if guilty, Mr. Dodrill gets an appropriate punishment. How about a lifetime ban on eating girl scout cookies?

Naw, that's a bit harsh, even for such a cowardly act. A few years in prison might just do the trick. But that leaves behind one unanswered question.

What kind of a man doesn't like girl scout cookies? Do such people really exist? It boggles the mind.