Friday, October 11, 2019

Savage Appetites by Rachel Monroe

Savage Appetites
Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession
by Rachel Monroe

Published: 2019
Publisher: Scribner
Genre: True Crime
Hardback: 272
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
Until a few years ago, Oxygen was a cable TV channel that targeted a young, female demographic with forgettable high-drama shows with names like Last Squad Staanding and Bad girls club.

Zombie sighting:
"We used to do zombies and vampires, but that's going nowhere. It's all true crime now."
-chapter 1, page 6

In this illuminating exploration of women, violence, and obsession, Rachel Monroe interrogates the appeal of true crime through four narratives of fixation. In the 1940s, a bored heiress began creating dollhouse crime scenes depicting murders, suicides, and accidental deaths. Known as the “Mother of Forensic Science,” she revolutionized the field of what was then called legal medicine. In the aftermath of the Manson Family murders, a young woman moved into Sharon Tate’s guesthouse and, over the next two decades, entwined herself with the Tate family. In the mid-nineties, a landscape architect in Brooklyn fell in love with a convicted murderer, the supposed ringleader of the West Memphis Three, through an intense series of letters. After they married, she devoted her life to getting him freed from death row. And in 2015, a teenager deeply involved in the online fandom for the Columbine killers planned a mass shooting of her own.

Each woman, Monroe argues, represents and identifies with a particular archetype that provides an entryway into true crime. Through these four cases, she traces the history of American crime through the growth of forensic science, the evolving role of victims, the Satanic Panic, the rise of online detectives, and the long shadow of the Columbine shooting. In a combination of personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media in the twentieth and twenty-first century, Savage Appetites scrupulously explores empathy, justice, and the persistent appeal of violence.

My two-bits:
Fascinating look into five women's lives (including author) that portray different angles of the True Crime genre.

side note: Reading about Frances Lee Gessner triggered my interest in the world of miniatures.


* monthly theme: True Crime, Hunger, Horror, Harassment
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Images from: Lovelytocu