Official Review: I, a Squealer by Richard Bruns

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CaitlynLynch
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Official Review: I, a Squealer by Richard Bruns

Post by CaitlynLynch » 12 Apr 2018, 03:49

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "I, a Squealer" by Richard Bruns.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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I, A Squealer is a memoir originally written in 1967 by Richard Bruns. Bruns was a close acquaintance of Charles Schmid, the serial killer known as the Pied Piper of Tucson, and the memoir is an account of how Bruns discovered the truth about Schmid’s activities and eventually found the courage to go to the police and turn his friend in. While Bruns did not intend to publish the memoir, several fictional portrayals showing him in a bad light encouraged his daughters to convince him to tell his side of the story.

In order to maintain the authenticity of the memoir as originally written, Bruns had it proofread for errors but not edited. Consequently, there are occasional words and phrases which might seem dated, but they are easy enough to understand in context. I found this deliberate choice really helped me to get into the ‘feel’ of mid-sixties Tucson and the prevailing attitudes among the youth of the time, primary among which was the ethic of never ‘squealing’ on one’s mates.

It may well be incomprehensible to many readers of this book that Bruns didn’t turn Schmid into the authorities earlier. Schmid comes across like a Charles Manson, someone whose personality was so powerful he generated a type of force field around himself which drew others into his orbit. As one of those closest to him, Bruns seemed to have been both terrified of and hypnotised by Schmid. Combined with his conditioning not to ‘squeal’ on his mate, he stayed silent far longer than many would find conscionable.

This was an absolutely fascinating insight into the mind and daily life of a serial killer. The only book I can compare it to is Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me, her account of discovering her personable friend was none other than infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. Bruns’ emotions run a similar gamut to those Rule described; shock, disbelief, denial and a sense of misplaced guilt - both wondered if they should have noticed something sooner, should have said something earlier.

Bruns was very young when he wrote the original memoir and there are some gaps in the narrative. An appendix at the end of the book, which includes an interview with Bruns at the time of final publication, fills in some of these intriguing gaps and should not be overlooked.

Despite the book having professionally proofread, I still found a small handful of spelling errors and incorrect words, which was disappointing. Although I understand the decision to keep faithfully to the original memoirs, I do think the book would have been improved with a slightly more thorough editing and revision by Bruns to fill in some of the more obvious gaps. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating read from a point of view very few people can legitimately claim; that of close acquaintance with a serial killer. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the true crime genre and give it a rating of three out of four stars.

******
I, a Squealer
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Post by stacie k » 13 Apr 2018, 00:58

Well, this would be a fascinating read! I can’t imagine what it would be like to discover your friend is a killer, much less a serial killer! It’s one thing to watch such drama unfold on TV and entirely different in your personal life! Thank you for your insights on this book.
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Post by kandscreeley » 13 Apr 2018, 07:31

Wow! This does sound like an amazing read. I can't imagine realizing you are friends with a serial killer and then figuring out how to do something about it without becoming a victim! Yikes! Thanks for the information about this fascinating book.
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Post by cristinaro » 13 Apr 2018, 12:39

I have been a lifelong fan of the murder/mystery genre with all its sub-genres. I've always wondered where my fascination comes from or if I am more interested in solving a puzzle rather than the darker side of murder. The book you reviewed is definitely grabbing my attention especially because it is a memoir and it tells the story of a serial killer through the eyes of one of his friends. This is pretty unusual in itself and it could be a nice experimental piece of reading. Thank you for your review!
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Post by melissy370 » 13 Apr 2018, 16:47

It is interesting to read how these serial killers manipulate people to hide their true self. What length some go to not show the monster inside. I have never heard of this particular killer so it will put this in my to read list.

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Post by Eileen R » 14 Apr 2018, 13:22

wow, I'm really fascinated with this book. I cannot imagine what Richard Bruns went through when he found out that Charles was actually a serial killer. I will definitely read it!

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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 14 Apr 2018, 22:17

Wow, I don't no what to say! The memoir is captivating from beginning till the end. To understand the mind of a serial killer through this first hand information in this book will be a great study. Definitely on my shelf. Thank you for sharing this book through your review!
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Post by CaitlynLynch » 14 Apr 2018, 23:04

cristinaro wrote:
13 Apr 2018, 12:39
I have been a lifelong fan of the murder/mystery genre with all its sub-genres. I've always wondered where my fascination comes from or if I am more interested in solving a puzzle rather than the darker side of murder. The book you reviewed is definitely grabbing my attention especially because it is a memoir and it tells the story of a serial killer through the eyes of one of his friends. This is pretty unusual in itself and it could be a nice experimental piece of reading. Thank you for your review!
Yep, the only book I can compare it to is Ann Rule's, and she didn't know Bundy was a killer before he was arrested. Bruns DID know what Schmid was up to, but was too frightened of him to go to the police, so I think this is a really unique perspective.

If you like true crime and you haven't read The Stranger Beside Me, I can't recommend it highly enough. A fantastic and beautifully-researched read.

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Post by Libs_Books » 15 Apr 2018, 12:57

What an extraordinary story! I'm not sure that I could actually bring myself to read it, but I'm glad that you did - thanks for the review.

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Post by cristinaro » 16 Apr 2018, 02:52

CaitlynLynch wrote:
14 Apr 2018, 23:04
cristinaro wrote:
13 Apr 2018, 12:39
I have been a lifelong fan of the murder/mystery genre with all its sub-genres. I've always wondered where my fascination comes from or if I am more interested in solving a puzzle rather than the darker side of murder. The book you reviewed is definitely grabbing my attention especially because it is a memoir and it tells the story of a serial killer through the eyes of one of his friends. This is pretty unusual in itself and it could be a nice experimental piece of reading. Thank you for your review!
Yep, the only book I can compare it to is Ann Rule's, and she didn't know Bundy was a killer before he was arrested. Bruns DID know what Schmid was up to, but was too frightened of him to go to the police, so I think this is a really unique perspective.

If you like true crime and you haven't read The Stranger Beside Me, I can't recommend it highly enough. A fantastic and beautifully-researched read.
I haven't read it. Thanks for telling me about it. I'll check it out.
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Post by JusCally » 02 May 2018, 09:24

Sounds right up my alley! I love the title, as well; I think it would be fascinating to see how Bruns comes to the decision to rat on his friend, and the personality that makes him gravitate toward that person in the first place. Wonderful review!

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Post by Fuzzy456 » 22 May 2018, 21:50

This book sounds very interesting. I’ve always loved reading true crime books. The comparison to Ted Bundy really peaked my interests. Great review! I’ll be checking this one out for sure.

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