Most helpful critical review
Thoughtful recaps of past mysteries...
on December 29, 2001
The highlights of this book are the recaps of mysteries with which I was unfamiliar, including Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, and especially the Lindburgh Baby Kidnapping. The kidnapping piece was particularly interesting and Douglas' points regarding the involvement of Bruno Hauptmann are believable.
I don't think it is any coincidence that Douglas builds up his book with sensational mysteries from the past, and then leads into his piece about the JonBenet Ramsey investigation. In stark contrast with the earlier pieces, however, The feel of this read is far more biased. Douglas' writing during this last chapter has a defensive air vs. the exploratory air of the previous chapters. I'm surprised Olshaker let Douglas get away with that type of writing. As far as Douglas' points, I found his claim unconvincing that in no way could Jon-Benet Ramsey's parents have killed her because parents don't kill their kids that way. Douglas also talks about his "small fee" for taking on the Ramsey case, and I think that it would have been more ethical to fully disclose that fee in the book. One man's small fee is another man's fortune. Also, where were the personality profiles of the parents? How can Douglas not mention the possibility of narcissism with a parent who names his daughter after himself?
Overall, I'm disappointed in the lack of full exploration of all of the key suspects in the Ramsey piece of the book -- where was mention of the brother? However, I think the book is worth purchasing in paperbook for the fascinating overviews of old cases.