This week we chat about weird emails, foray’s into Twitter, review all things Billy Jensen and whether crafting a sensually posed woman out of topiary means you are asking for trouble.
Chase Darkness with Me – Billy Jensen
Today, for solid proof we don’t just sit at home and watch Netflix, we have a book review. Chase Darkness with Me is the recently released memoir of sorts by Billy Jensen. The description from Billy’s website reads:
“Journalist Billy Jensen spent fifteen years investigating unsolved murders, fighting for the families of victims. Every story he wrote had one thing in common—it didn’t have an ending. The killer was still out there”
The book chronicles Billy’s history as a journalist, his family, his fascination for true crime and his frustration with unsolved cold cases.
He writes about his relationship with Michelle McNamara in detail and how invigorating it was to connect with someone who was also deeply passionate about true crime and was equally, if not more, ferocious about catching killers, rapists and monsters as he was. If you have read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, or know anything about this case, you’ll know Michelle was trying to catch all of these traits in one person – the Golden State Killer. The final paragraph of Billy’s book is him writing in the present tense about the capture of the Golden State Killer – Joseph James DeAngelo. This is one of the ‘true crime Christmas’ moment which we all, as fans of true crime, hope happen. Someone who has committed countless acts of pure hatred, being caught, being brought to justice. This event, described by Billy (who is massively invested in this case) is, in our opinion, worth buying the book for. He attends a promotional event for I’ll Be Gone in the Dark and on his return to his hotel room, he finds out that they have him in custody.
Later, he starts using his own money to pay for targeted advertising on Facebook and tries to solve these crimes by, essentially, crowd solving – for example, asking people if they could identify someone in a video clip.
We enjoyed how he was open about the failures he encountered, how some of the cases he looked at solving were the ones that weren’t big or famous one giving him a champion of the people kind of vibe but also cementing himself as a citizen detective and victims advocate. Small cases might not be enough to keep super true crime buffs interested, so he also explores big cases such as trying to identify the Allenstown 4 – which is also known as the Bear Brook murders. (New Hampshire Public Radio released a fantastic podcast on the Bear Brook/Allenstown 4 murders and we’d all recommend you check that one out).
The book concludes with Billy giving you a call to action and toolkit of sorts for amateur sleuths – how to set up your own targeted ads and, most importantly, rules to do this work by. He highlights how sometimes internet detectives get things badly wrong and uses the example of the Boston bombing – where unreliable crowd-sourced material named innocent people such as Sunil Tripathi.
Billy has a couple of podcasts, Murder Squad which he co-hosts with Paul Holes and The First Degree, which he hosts with Jac Vanek and Alexis Linkletter.
Moving onto The Murder Squad, we see retired veteran detective Paul Holes and Billy look into cold cases in the hope to solve them using techniques like good old fashioned detective work to familial DNA mapping, but with the added twist that by publicising these terrible crimes, someone might know something and that could crack a case. This is a pretty new direction to take a true crime podcast in – rather than retelling stories – there is active searching for those responsible so not only can justice be served but also families can get closure and assistance when all hope is seemingly lost.
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunil_Tripathi
Exactly Right Media https://www.exactlyrightmedia.com/the-murder-squad
The Murder Squad http://themurdersquad.com
Podcastone – https://www.podcastone.com/the-first-degree-with-jac-vanek-and-alexis-linkletter
Let us know in the comments below if you’ve checked out Billy’s book and what you thought of it plus your feelings on sexy topiary called Gloria.