Recent Reads | True Crime Story and Very Bad Company

Posted June 20, 2024 / Book Reviews, Recent Reads / 1 Comment

Recent Reads | True Crime Story and Very Bad CompanyTrue Crime Story by Joseph Knox
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on December 7, 2021
Format: Audiobook, eBook, Paperback (381 pages) • Source: Everand, Purchased
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What happens to all the girls who go missing?

The thrilling story of a university student's sudden disappearance, the woman who became obsessed with her case, and the crime writer who uncovered the chilling truth about what happened...

In 2011, Zoe Nolan walked out of her dormitory in Manchester and was never seen or heard from again. Her case went cold. Her story was sad, certainly, but hardly sensational, crime writer Joseph Knox thought. He wouldn't have given her any more thought were it not for his friend, Evelyn Mitchell. Another writer struggling to come up with a new idea, Evelyn was wondering just what happened to all the girls who go missing. What happened to the Zoe Nolans of the world?

Evelyn began investigating herself, interviewing Zoe's family and friends, and emailing Joseph with chapters of the book she was writing with her findings. Uneasy with the corkscrew twists and turns, Joseph Knox embedded himself in the case, ultimately discovering a truth more tragic and shocking than he could have possibly imagined...

Just remember: Everything you read is fiction.

This is one of those books that has intrigued me for years and I just kept delaying picking it up. I knew it was going to (likely) be right up my alley based on its mixed media format (mostly interviews, some newspaper clippings, etc.) and topic (a girl disappearing). I knew the book was a bit meta and weird, including a self-insert by the author, and that it reads more like a true crime book than fiction. It reminded me a lot of THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF THE ALPERTON ANGELS and MURDER IN THE FAMILY, which are really good mixed media mysteries that also have similar vibes plot/author-wise.

The book centers around the disappearance of Zoe Nolan from a university party right before Christmas, never to be seen again. Joseph Knox, the author, is a character in the story – he’s compiling all these interviews with Zoe’s friends and family along with emails between himself and the woman who begins researching what happened to Zoe.

It kind of has a slow start – it’s just a lot of interviews and finger-pointing between Zoe’s friends. I like that the tension slowly built up throughout the book. Even though it felt like not much was happening and the plot wasn’t progressing, I couldn’t put this down. The audiobook has a full cast and it’s excellent, so I was frequently going back and forth to finish it quickly. I got spooked and didn’t want to read it at night! Knox did a great job building the tension and eventual reveals.

I knew the ending would decide if this would be a five-star read for me, and unfortunately it didn’t make it that far. Do I think the ending made sense based on the kind of meta take on true crime? Yes. Was it satisfying? Honestly not really. I’d love to know if anyone actually solved it or predicted the ending/whodunnit aspect though. I like that it was nearly impossible to figure out, to the point where it barely feels like a “fair play” mystery.

I could definitely talk in spoilers but I’ll avoid it for now. I’d highly recommend this one because of how much I enjoyed it. There were a number of jaw-dropping moments! But, I also can understand the negative reviews as well. This book can be a little polarizing, with either two-star or five-star ratings amongst the people I follow on Goodreads. Both reactions totally make sense to me lol.

Recent Reads | True Crime Story and Very Bad CompanyVery Bad Company by Emma Rosenblum
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Published by Macmillan on May 14, 2024
Also by this author: Bad Summer People
Format: Audio/eBook (272 pages) • Source: Everand, Libby
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Every year executives at the trendy tech startup Aurora gather the company’s top employees for an exclusive retreat in Miami and this year, Caitlin Levy—Aurora’s newest hire—is joining the team as Head of Events. The benefits are outstanding: a seven-figure salary, stock shares, a discretionary bonus, and limitless vacation days. What could possibly go wrong?

When another high-level executive vanishes after the first night, the disappearance has the potential to derail the future of the company’s sale and cost everyone on the team millions. Now more than ever Caitlin and her colleagues must continue the charade—partaking in team-building exercises, group brainstorms, and dinners—to keep the future of Aurora afloat amid the fatal speculations.

I thought Rosenblum’s debut was interesting and such a breezy read – nothing to write home about though. Just a juicy, gossipy, rich-people-behaving-badly (on vacation). This book has the exact same vibes except the rich people are behaving badly on a work retreat.

The executive team at tech startup Aurora are heading to Miami for a retreat / work summit. They all find out some big news about the company (it’s being sold and they’re all going to get even more rich) while one of their own goes missing. They’re all trying to ensure the sale goes through and keep all the bad news to a minimum.

I like that her books feature a lot of POVs – I think this allows you to get into everyone’s twisted head, but it also does keep you at an arms length from every character. You’re not rooting for them, which is intentional because they’re all bad people, but you also don’t really get to know them. I like this style because the switching of POVs keeps me interested and doing the whole “just one more chapter” thing.

There’s something to be said about a book like this – it’s not amazing, it’s entertaining, it’s so easy to read in one sitting. It’s the ultimate palette cleanser that I just NEED sometimes. If she keeps writing books like this, I will keep reading them and looking forward to them. Going in with the right expectations will do you a lot of favors lol.

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