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Book Review Wednesday: True Crime Addict by James Renner

One of my new favorite pastimes is looking through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple Books for e-books that are on sale. Sometimes I find books that spark my interest that are on sale or there's a best seller I've been wanting to read that is under $5. It's the best of both worlds. 

My true crime addiction is very much alive & well; I listen to true crime podcasts daily, watch Dateline & 20/20 every week (I even have it recording the series on my DVR) and usually am reading at least one mystery/crime novel at any given time.

That's why when I saw a book called "True Crime Addict" on sale at Barnes & Noble, I immediately purchased it. I did look into the book a little more before purchasing because what really drew me in was the fact that it was a 'memoir' and not a fictional story. 

"True Crime Addict" is written by James Renner, an investigative journalist who works primarily on true crime cases and has been featured on one of my favorite podcasts, True Crime Garage, many times before. His story is interesting: he claims he fell in love with a missing girl when he was younger, Amy Mihaljevic and that is what sparked his obsession with true crime.  

This book follows Renner and his journey of discovering the Maura Murray case and how his obsession with true crime once again took flight.



Publisher's Summary

When an eleven-year-old James Renner fell in love with Amy Mihaljevic, the missing girl seen on posters all over his neighborhood, it was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with true crime. That obsession led James to a successful career as an investigative journalist. It also gave him PTSD. 

In 2011, James began researching the strange disappearance of Maura Murray, a UMass student who went missing after wrecking her car in rural New Hampshire in 2004. Over the course of his investigation, he uncovers numerous important and shocking new clues about what may have happened to Maura, but also finds himself in increasingly dangerous situations with little regard for his own well-being. 

As his quest to find Maura deepens, the case starts taking a toll on his personal life, which begins to spiral out of control. The result is an absorbing dual investigation of a complicated case that has eluded authorities for more than a decade and a journalist’s own complicated true-crime addiction.

My Thoughts

This book was partially about James Renner and his journey through the Maura Murray case partially about his personal life and how he throws himself into a case and lastly, about Maura Murray's disappearance. I've listened to many podcasts episodes about the Maura Murray case -- a college student who vanished into thin air after getting into a car accident. Was she taken? Did she run away? Did she get lost and fall into a body of water? No one knows and this book doesn't solve the case. However, I do think I learned a lot more about the case and it was nice to actually read about it instead of listening to it. 

On the other hand, you learned a lot about James Renner and his life; he doesn't have an easy life and it was very interesting to read. This isn't a fun hobby for him, trying to solve and reporting on missing person cases... it's work and it takes a toll on him. As 'arm chair detectives' and people who enjoy true crime stories it can be difficult to realize that there are real people behind these cases, real detectives and reporters (and obviously the victim/families) but it takes a lot to have these cases become your entire life.

Throughout the novel you learn about Renner's family, his troubles with his son, substance abuse and his obsessive personality in general. It is deeply interesting, deeply troubling and yet fascinating. You are pulled into James Renner's life, obsession with true crime and find yourself longing for more answers about Maura Murray. 

If you love true crime, enjoy memoirs & books told in the first person, you will really enjoy this book. It's a very easy read even though it's heavy subject matter. It definitely has opened up a new genre for me and I think I will look into more books about real, true crime cases.

Have you ever read a book like this? Leave recommendations in the comments!
xoxo
B