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3 out of 4 stars
Review by Leese
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First of all, I'm a huge fan of true crime stories and documentaries, so this book appealed to me straight away from just the title alone. I'd never heard of Meagan McFarlin, so I knew nothing of her murder and the case that surrounded it, but I was looking forward to it.
The fact that the book is written by a former detective who led the case made it all the more intriguing. McDaniel takes us through the investigations of two murders that, originally, may seem to have nothing in common, but they indeed share a common and deadly link.
Initially a case of mistaken identity when the body of a young woman is found wearing a piece of jewellery belonging to another missing female, McDaniel and his partner believe they have found Meagan McFarlin, only to later discover (after informing Meagan's parents of their findings) that the body is that of a woman named Jennifer. It comes to light that both women have something in common and the police are led to David Ray Wammack.
The book is written in such a way that we are given enough details about the crimes and the manners of the murders without it being too gory or graphic, which is good for readers who may not be able to handle things that are a little too gritty. While still harrowing, we are spared anything that would be too stomach-churning.
We're also taken through the interview and interrogation process and McDaniel sheds a little light on the difference between the two, highlighting the aims of the detectives throughout each procedure. It's not exactly the good-cop/bad-cop routine we're often shown on TV, but the importance of building rapport with the suspect and displaying empathy and understanding to get them to open up is evident, despite any personal feelings of disgust and anger felt towards the person being interrogated.
McDaniel gives great respect to the victims of the crimes and their families throughout; telling their stories and backgrounds to make sure they are recognised as individuals and not just crime statistics. This is further evidenced by the fact that he credits Meagan's family – particularly her mother – as being crucial to the investigation and consequently leading the police to the perpetrator before he could kill again. He speaks of the strength and courage of the family and notes that without their help, they probably would have been a lot slower in closing the case.
It's interesting to note that the crime involved police divisions in two separate states; one of which would have the opportunity to sentence the killer to death if convicted and the other which would impose a life sentence. I found this particularly interesting and enjoyed learning a little about the different jurisdictions and the differences between them.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It really is fascinating to view a case from the other side and gain a little insight into the mind of a detective as he works day and night; sacrificing meals, sleep and time with family, to ensure another murder isn't committed before the killer is apprehended and brought to justice. McDaniel clearly shows the dedication and commitment that it takes to solve a crime and bring closure and justice for the families of the victims.
One thing that really caused me to mark this book down was the amount of editing errors that stood out to me. Misspellings, occasional words missing in sentences and Meagan's name was even incorrectly spelled at one point. If a little more care had been taken in the proof-reading and editing stages then this would have been creeping towards a fourth star. As it stands, I can't award it maximum marks because the errors, at least to me, were incredibly noticeable. With a little polishing and professional editing, this book would improve substantially and would most likely have gotten four stars from me.
The Murder of Meagan McFarlin
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