2 out of 4 stars
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The Germond Family Murders: A forensic conclusion to a cold case by Vincent P. Cookingham, PhD is about an unsolved murder in 1930. Mr. and Mrs. Germond, their son, Raymond, and daughter, Bernice, had a combined total of 23 stab wounds. At the time, there was no apparent motive as to why they were murdered or who the murderer was. There were a lot of rumors and write-ups in both national and international publications, but law enforcement never solved the crime. Dr. Vincent Cookingham investigated this case using some of the same methods that should have been used in 1930, along with more current forensic science. He revealed how rumors and false reporting impacted the case. He explained the VIN rules and their role in his investigation. He also won a lawsuit to get the evidence - the court order is conspicuously mentioned in the body of the report and contained in an actual copy of the court order at the end under “exhibits”. A law firm represented him pro Bono due to the historical nature of this famous crime. This book summarizes his investigation and his conclusion about who the murderer was and their motive.
Overall, this book is an interesting read. Dr. Cookingham begins the book with his family history because his grandparents lived near the Germond family and knew them. This history made the book feel more authentic and personal by letting me know the customs and living conditions of the characters. At the beginning of the book, there are pictures of the Germond family, which helped me visualize them as I was reading the book.
Although the book was interesting, it had many negative aspects that disrupted my reading pleasure. The main problem is that a professional editor has not edited this book. The lack of editing has resulted in repetitiveness in sentences and errors like missing words, wrong words “ever” instead of “even,” “to” instead of “the,” to name a few. There are more than ten errors in the first 31 pages. Dr. Cookingham acknowledges in the book that some of the text is intentionally repetitive due to its complexity and confusion. However, this made the book drag in those sections and did not explain all of the repetitiveness. One error in this book could make readers question his credibility in writing the book. It is the sentence, “There are no witness statements preserved in the record at the Sheriff’s Office and they are of varying quality.” How can they be of varying quality if there are no witness statements? There is only this one instance, so I do not question his credibility, but a professional editor would have found this. Dr. Cookingham has included many exhibits at the end of the book, but their quality is bad, and they are hard to read.
Due to the number of errors and their nature, I can only give this book 2 out of 4 stars. I did not give this book one star because it is interesting. I did not give the book three stars because of the severity of the error that could question Dr. Cookingham’s credibility.
I recommend this book to adult readers who enjoy crime thrillers or true-crime stories. I do not recommend it to younger or sensitive readers because there is some gory content, especially within the autopsy reports.
The Germond Family Murders
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