All posts tagged "murder"

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Online Book Club – Swift Justice, Week 1

Swift Justice coverFor September 2012, our Online Book Club selection takes a step back in time, revisiting one of the most infamous events in San Jose’s history.  In his true life police procedural Swift Justice: Murder and Vengeance in a California Town , award-winning author Harry Farrell documents the 1933 kidnapping and subsequent murder of Brooke Hart, heir apparent to a family owned San Jose department store.  After Hart’s lifeless body is finally discovered, a mob gathers at the downtown jail leading to a night of violence and ultimately the lynching of the two suspects in custody.  Although most of the key figures in the case are now gone, today’s readers will still recognize many of the locations central to a case that captivated our city nearly eighty years ago.  For more information on the kidnapping and the violence that followed, visit the library's local history collection in the California Room of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library or visit key sites from the incident by grabbing your smart phone and retracing the steps of some of San Jose's greatest tragedies and calamities.


Each week, we'll put forth a different question to prompt reflection on the book and its ideas.  We hope you will participate in the discussion by contributing your comments.


For Week 1, we'd like to ask: What factors led to the mob violence of 1933?  Could such events happen in San Jose today?


Several factors contributed to the eruption of mob violence in 1933.  I think one of these factors was the size of San Jose itself.  San Jose was a much smaller town in 1933, before the rise of Silicon Valley.  Brooke Harte was recognizable to the residents, many of whom shopped at the downtown store where he worked.  They felt they knew him; many, in fact, did.  I think this familiarity, real or imagined, contributed to the city’s sense of outrage over his kidnapping and murder.  While most of us are saddened and disturbed by the disappearance of Sierra Lamar, for example, the majority of those searching for her, following her story and praying for her safe recovery do not know her personally.  I think that familiarity, often missing in today’s large metropolitan areas, was one of the key factors that incited the city to violence in 1933. How about you?  Do you think such events are still possible in San Jose today?


See our Online Book Club page for more information about this book and to preview the next weeks' questions

The Dingo That Wouldn't Die

According to CNN today (February 25, 2012), there has been a fourth inquest into the case of Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton and her claim that a dingo stole her baby Azaria, aged 2 months, while the family was camping near Ayer’s Rock in Australia. This tale was brought to popular knowledge in the 1988 film A Cry in the Dark for which Meryl Streep achieved an Academy Award nomination. The movie was based on the book Evil Angels by John Bryson.


Chamberlain-Creighton was cleared in the first inquest in 1981 then sentenced to life in prison in the second in 1982 when the jury found that the mother had slit the child’s throat. That verdict was overturned when a baby’s jacket was found half buried near a dingo nest in 1986. “In 1988, a Royal Commission set up to review the evidence formally quashed convictions for both husband and wife,” according to CNN. The third inquest, in 1995, left an open verdict which Chamberlain-Creighton and her former husband Michael are trying to correct to show what they say is the true cause of death – a dingo attack.

Book cover: Dingo



The 2012 inquest was taken on in Chamberlain-Creighton’s move to get her facts down and show that dingo attacks have been significant and are a true danger. Read more about dingoes at your library.



The coroner adjourned the fourth inquest.  

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Anya has immigrated to the United States and has worked hard to assimilate into the American culture.  She has eliminated her Russian accent and adopted American mannerisms.


Everything changes on the day she falls into a hole and meets a ghost.  This "benign" ghost seems to be a great  supporter and advisor.  Anya's ghost looks nerdy and unassuming.  However, this new friend finds ways to help Anya out of schoolwork and skipping out on classes.  Anya's ghost even starts to help Anya find a way to get together with her huge crush, who never seems to notice her.  With the ghost's help, however, Anya soon gets his attention!


Vera Brosgol is an illustrator for Laika, Inc.  She works on storyboards for feature animation.  Neil Gaiman has called Anya's Ghost (find on Link+) "a masterpiece."  This is a novel for those who love graphic novels and young adult literature.

Full Dark, No Stars

Full Dark, No Stars is Stephen King’s latest and the title is appropriate! These “long stories” are dark indeed, featuring rats, murder, rape, murder, the devil and murder. Each creates a unique world:  I thought the creepiest were the first, "1922," (which reminded me of The Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption) and "Big Driver," in which a writer of cozy mysteries finds herself a character in an all-too-real work of horror.


At the same time I was reading Mr. King my daughter introduced me to the new AMC series: The Walking Dead; the whole first season is "on demand" on Comcast Cable, but is not out on DVD until March.  This series is the real zombie deal, with good special effects, make-up and acting while being character-driven and well-produced and directed. However, the violence and mayhem on the television (heck, I also was watching the 5th season of Dexter - about everyone's favorite serial killer - on HBO which is not yet available on DVD!) while reading Stephen King, who can always be counted on for more than you were bargaining for, created some interesting Thanksgiving weekend dreams. I had to stop everything and watch the Amazing Race to clear my head!

Dexter: The Story of Just Another Serial Killer

Everyone and their mothers have been telling me that I should pick up the series Dexter, and having a mild case of thanatophobia (my vocab word for the day; it means fear of death), I figured passing might be okay.  I was wrong.


Do not pass on Dexter.  There is intensity in this direction and it’s the good kind.


Meet Dexter.  He's just a normal guy except he's kind of a sociopathic serial killer raised by a cop foster father who taught him to kill by a certain code.  The need to kill is instilled deep within him and it feeds often.  He also works in the forensics department of the Miami PD.


But there’s a new serial killer in town that the homicide department is tracking down: The Ice Truck Killer, known as such because he likes to drain the blood out of his victims when he chops then into slices with the aid of a chilly environment to slow down the flow of blood.


The Ice Truck Killer already kills in a way that sends Dexter shivers of excitement; but when Dexter finds out that he’s being called out by his fellow serial killer, he needs to find out how they’re linked.  He digs into his past, trying to find out about the memories his mind is blocking and how he became the sociopath he is.


Probably not suitable for children.

Sudden Prey

Sudden Prey coverSudden Prey is the 8th novel in the popular Lucas Davenport series.  Davenport is a hard-bitten cop, who doesn't play by the rules, but he always gets the job done!  John Sandford gives us a story of vengeance and revenge after a female bank robber is gunned down.

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