Did You Know It Was a Book First? Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

It’s an age-old story: I was flipping through a streaming service and started watching something new, only to do a search later and realize it’s based on a book! In this case, the show is Ragdoll, from AMC+, based on a book of the same name by Daniel Cole. If you’re like me and love comparing page to screen adaptations to their original source material, here’s the breakdown of this grisly murder mystery, then and now.

ON THE PAGE

We meet Willam-Oliver Layton-Fawkes (nickname Wolf, for obvious reasons) at the trial of the Cremation Killer, where due to irregularities in Wolf’s investigation and chain of evidence, the suspect is acquitted. When the verdict comes down, Wolf drags the accused out of the defendant’s box and almost beats him to death on the courtroom floor. The book then flashes several years into the future, when a demoted Wolf goes with his friend and former partner Emily Baxter to a bizarre crime scene, where one corpse is made of parts from six different people. Thanks to the maneuverings of Wolf’s ex-wife Andrea, the press runs with the case and turns it into a sensational firestorm after a list is uncovered – with six new victims predicted, along with the dates they’ll be killed, the last being Wolf himself. Wolf works to solve the case alongside a troubled Baxter dealing with alcoholism and a buried attraction to Wolf, as well as Andrea, struggling to navigate the pressures of the news team and her own ambition continually driving her to violate privacy and sensationalize a horrifying event. Meanwhile, rookie Edmunds has his own theories about the killer, which he chases despite the damage it’s doing to his marriage to pregnant Tia. Along for the ride are Wolf’s good friend and current partner Finlay and unit boss Simmons, who discovers he doesn’t like being in charge while his people are thrust again and again into danger.

ON THE SCREEN

Our main character’s name is now Nathan Rose, and he does attack the acquitted Cremation Killer on the courtroom floor. In the show, however, more time is devoted to the direct result of that attack: Rose’s time at a mental hospital. His confused memories of that time, and of his friend there, Joel (on his own quest for justice) suddenly rise to the surface when Rose and Baxter (sober, witty, fighting for respect as a woman in the police) come to a crime scene where one corpse is made up of six different people. When the list of upcoming victims comes to light, delivered mysteriously to the police station, Rose quickly realizes that it’s all connected to the Cremation Killer, and that shadowy time in Rose’s past. He launches his own secret investigation to try and avert more murders (and atone for his own role in the ones that have occurred) as the police try to protect the victims on the list. Matters are complicated by frenemy Andrea (Rose’s on again, off again lover) in the media, and the resistance of the listed victims to accept protection. One very important change: intrepid rookie Edmunds has been transformed into a young American transplant named Lake Edmunds, an extremely young and liberal lesbian who struggles to fit in with the old boys’ club which Simmons and Finlay have been reduced to represent – though she remains determined to unravel the mystery, even if she has to do it on her own.

Without giving too much away, the changes made in the show (specifically what’s revealed and when) work really well to ratchet up tension and heighten the drama for the viewer, including a deeper sense of Rose’s emotional life.  In the book there’s a greater emphasis on the puzzle and trying to make it all fit together, using the dates the murders are predicted for to make it a race against time. While Andrea is less prominent in the show, which means less exploration of the pressure inherent in media work, the Ragdoll show still attempts to show the struggles of professional women through its focus on police procedure; Baxter and Edmunds have a number of conversations about the double standards women are held to. On a less serious note, I personally appreciated Rose’s name change; invoking a rose makes him seem complex and sensitive where, for me at least, “William-Oliver Layton-Fawkes, nickname Wolf” is a bit on-the-nose for an aggressive British police detective.

If you’re looking for a new crime thriller, serial killer story, or addictive binge-watch, I definitely recommend Ragdoll for an intricate puzzle that dives into questions of guilt, responsibility, justice, friendship, memory and identity.

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

I’m not a spooky book person: hauntings, ghosts, unexplained mysteries keep me up all night. I decided to be brave and try The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James, even though the reviews I read described mysterious happenings throughout the book. It was worth it (and the many positive reviews didn’t let me down)!

The Sun Down Motel tells the story of secrets. A rundown roadside motel in Fell, New York has been the scene of many unexplained happenings. What’s even more chilling is that the city of Fell has a high number of young girls who have mysteriously disappeared without a trace. One of these missing girls is Viv Delaney.

Viv moved to Fell in 1982. She is desperate to move to New york City, but in order to help pay for it, she finds herself working as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel. She was only supposed to be passing through Fell – not staying to work. The more she works at the motel, the more Viv realizes that something isn’t quite right there. Something haunting and scary has taken over the Sun Down Motel. What’s even scarier: they are determined to get Viv’s attention no matter what.

Flash forward to Fell in 2017. Carly Kirk has been consumed by the story of her Aunt Viv, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances while working the night shift at the Sun Down. Viv disappeared before Carly was even born, yet her disappearance has cast a shadow over her life. Determined to finally find some answers, Carly decides to move to Fell and visit the motel where her aunt spent her last known moments. Once she steps foot at the Sun Down Motel, Carly quickly realizes that nothing has changed since 1982. The more she investigates what happened to her aunt, the more Carly realizes that both the town of Fell and the Sun Down Motel are ripe with secrets. Soon Carly finds herself wrapped up in the same haunting and scary mysteries that consumed her aunt back in 1982. Carly needs answers though and will stop at nothing to find out what really happened to Viv all those years ago.

This book is also available in the following formats:

October True Crime Pick – American Predator

American Predator by Maureen Callahan has been chosen for the Best Sellers Club October True Crime pick! Librarian Anna has this to say about her latest selection:

Published in July 2019, this bestselling book investigates the heinous crimes of serial killer Israel Keyes. While not as infamous as other serial killers, such as John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy, Keyes is described as being one of the most “ambitious and terrifying serial killers in modern history.” Living in Alaska as a construction worker and as a father to his only daughter, Keyes would travel across the country to bury “kill kits,” which contained cash, weapons, and tools used to dispose of bodies; he planted these supplies in preparation for whenever he had an urge to act upon his sadistic desires in a particular place. He is thought to have murdered at least eleven people before his arrest in 2012, but stayed under the radar for fifteen years, as the first crime he committed was in 1997. I primarily selected this title for the BSC due to the positive and starred reviews it received from acclaimed journals and reader communities upon publication, as well as due to my surprise of never hearing of Keyes before finding this book, despite him committing these crimes in relatively recent history. I am excited to share this selection with you and hope you enjoy this pick!

Want to know more about American Predator ? Check out the following description provided by the publisher:

A gripping tour de force of investigative journalism that takes us deep into the investigation behind one of the most frightening and enigmatic serial killers in modern American history, and into the ranks of a singular American police force: the Anchorage PD Most of us have never heard of Israel Keyes. But he is one of the most ambitious, meticulous serial killers of modern time. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as “a force of pure evil,” he was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried “kill kits”–Cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools–in remote locations across the country and over the course of fourteen years, would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger’s house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter. When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years–uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist. A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake–many of which remain unsolved to this day. American Predator is the ambitious culmination of years of on-the-ground interviews with key figures in law enforcement and in Keyes’s life, and research uncovered from classified FBI files. Callahan takes us on a journey into the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer, and the limitations of traditional law enforcement, in one of America’s most isolated environments–Alaska–when faced with a killer who defies all expectation and categorization.

Join our Best Sellers Club  and automatically have selected titles put on hold for you. Want the hottest new release from your favorite author? Want to stay current with a celebrity book club? Love nonfiction? We’ve got that too! Choose any author, celebrity pick, and/or nonfiction pick and have us put the latest title on hold for you automatically. Select as many as you want!

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite is a crime novel that quickly draws you into the story and has you looking closely at how far you would be willing to go to help a family member.

Korrede is just sitting down to dinner when she gets a frantic phone call from her sister, Ayoola, desperately needing her help. Rushing out of the house, Korrede hopes that her sister hasn’t done what she thinks she has done. Ayoola, Korrede’s younger sister, has a rather inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends. She always draws Korrede into the mess, asking her to help her cover up the crime.

Korrede is bitter. Ayoola is her younger sister and clearly her mother’s favorite. Ayoola is beautiful and can get any man to love her. Men flock to Ayoola and she always has a next man lined up.

Helping her sister through all her problems, Korrede is still hopeful that eventually Ayoola will stop and change. Korrede’s saving grace is her job as a nurse at a local hospital. While some of the people that she works with get on her nerves, Korrede looks forward to working with the kind and very handsome doctor who treats her as an equal. She hopes that one day he will realize that they are perfect together.

All of Korrede’s hopes are shattered the day that Ayoola stops by the hospital uninvited and catches the attention of the doctor. They instantly connect and Korrede is forced to deal with Ayoola’s past. She needs to figure out what to do before Ayoola slips and attacks the doctor.

This book is also available in the following format:

Outfox by Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown is a well-known and prolific author of romantic suspense. She is also one of my go-to authors when I’m not sure what I want to read, but I need something that will keep my attention. Her latest kept me engaged from start to finish and had an ending that I didn’t see coming.

Outfox  by Sandra Brown tells the story of one man’s quest to capture a serial killer and another man’s desperate need to never be caught. Drex Easton has been hunting a serial killer for most of his adult life. For 30 plus years, he has been struggling to find a man that he last knew as Weston Graham. Weston is a sociopathic conman who has assumed many names and even more disguises over the past thirty years. So far, he has lured and tricked eight wealthy women out of their vast fortunes. These women then disappeared without a trace, along with Weston. Looking into the disappearances, the only commonality Drex sees is that a new man comes into each woman’s life before their disappearance. The man, who Drex believes to be Weston, then vanishes and leaves behind no trace that he even existed.

Drex is convinced that each of these women have been murdered and that Weston is the mysterious man responsible. Every time he gets close to capturing Weston though, he slips away, leaving Drex frustrated and with another dead woman left behind. Using countless tools at his disposal, Drex is now convinced that he has finally found Weston and is working hard to gain his trust.

Jasper Ford is attractive and charming. Having just married a successful businesswoman significantly younger than him named Talia Shafer, Ford ticks off many of the things that makes Drex believe that he is in fact Weston Graham. Desperate to save Talia from death, Drex moves to the town where the couple lives and begins insinuating himself into their lives. He starts surveillance on their house, posing as a neighbor researching a new book that he is writing. The closer Drex gets to the couple, the more he becomes convinces that Jasper is in fact that sociopath that he has been hunting for years.

Drex has only one chance to catch Jasper Ford and prove that he is in fact Weston Graham, but the attraction that he feels towards Talia threatens to destroy all the hard work that he has put in. Relying on help from his friends and hiding from the ire of others, Drex works diligently to prove Jasper’s guilt and Talia’s innocence.


This book is available in the following formats:

Believe Me by JP Delaney

Have you ever read a book where you were consistently confused about what is real and what isn’t?  I felt that way all through JP Delaney’s newest book, Believe Me. Just when I thought I knew what was going on, a twist would come from out of nowhere and I would be back at square one, trying to figure out what was happening.

Believe Me by JP Delaney tells the story of a young actress desperate for money. Claire is a struggling British actress who, through a series of nasty circumstances, finds herself living in New York without a green card. Not sure what else to do and needing money and a job, Claire becomes resourceful in order to find work. Since she is an actress, Claire eventually finds employ working as a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Her job is simple: she has been hired to entrap straying husbands. She is to get close, but not too close, in order for him to proposition her, while she stays slightly aloof. The firm needs evidence of their straying, but they must not be coerced.

Claire’s newest job seems straight-forward: the client warns her to be careful and is insistent that Claire doesn’t fall for any of her husband’s tricks. Claire’s meeting with the client’s husband hadn’t gone as well as she had hoped which frustrated them all. Moving on, Claire is surprised when that wife ends up violently murdered and the cops are convinced that the husband is to blame.

The cops decide to take advantage of Claire’s lack of a green card and her prior association with the suspect. They entreat Claire to use her acting skills and her work as a decoy to hopefully lure the husband unto a confession.

This seems like an easy job to Claire. After all, she is paid to lure men into propositioning her. How hard could it be to lure a man into confessing? Claire takes on a new identity and voice that the police feel will catch the killer’s eye. The closer she gets to the target though, the more Claire wonders if she is actually the decoy or the prey. Is she the hunter or the one being hunted? The further she gets into the investigation, the more questions are raised.

The twist at the end of this novel hit me so hard that 1) I audibly gasped and drew the attention of everyone in the grocery store around me and 2) I had to rewind and listen to the ending multiple times before I fully understand what was going on. I love when books do this to me. Read this book and let me know what you think!


This book is also available in the following formats:

Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin

Finding old black and white photographs hidden in drawers or on the shelves of antique stores is one of my favorite things. Those photographs seldom have identifying information on the back. As a result, my mind will wander and make up stories about whoever happens to be in the shot. When I stumbled upon my last read, I knew it was meant to be, based purely on the cover. When I read the description, I was even more hooked.

Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin is a mysterious murder plot of a book. Carl Louis Feldman is a documentary photographer living in a home for suspected serial killers who have mental issues. It’s thought that Carl has dementia. Certainly all the symptoms point to it, but the fact that Carl is not in prison at the moment for his crimes leads a mysterious young woman searching for answers to his doorstep.

This young woman has been obsessively searching for answers to her sister’s disappearance since she was twelve years old. She has been waiting to meet Carl and has planned, researched, and trained in every way possible. Showing up where Carl lives and breaking him out of the home is the easiest part. Now she and Carl are traveling across Texas to three red dots marked on her map as she works to see whether or not Carl is guilty of murdering all these women and of kidnapping and murdering her own sister.

Carl might be a serial killer. He might have dementia. He might not remember committing a string of violent crimes across Texas that match up with a series of famous photographs he took. This woman doesn’t believe anything Carl says and hopes that this road trip will help her figure out the truth about Carl and what happened to her sister.

This novel could have gone many different ways. I found myself constantly wondering what was going to happen to Carl and this mysterious young woman. Was he faking? Was she going to kill him? Would either of them ever find answers? I was hooked cover to cover. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

Being a woman cop in the 1970s meant your day was filled with harassment from multiple sources: the men you worked with, the people you encountered on the streets, and usually the family you left behind to become a cop. No matter what you did, you would feel the heat from everyone around you. You were never good enough. This type of harassment and degradation led to some women not even making it through the police academy and for those that made it, enduring that treatment only fed their fire to become the best cop that they could. Reading fiction and nonfiction about women during this era showed me that those pioneering women were continuing on a quest for equality that started many, many years ago.

Cop Town by Karin Slaughter dives into what policewomen in the 1970s went through on a daily basis by following the Atlanta police force in 1974 as they struggled to deal with the murder of an officer and a suspected murderer on the loose. It’s Kate Murphy’s first day on the job. From the moment she steps foot in the precinct, Kate realizes that the Atlanta Police Department is not the place for her. The other police officers are not welcoming to the women and even within the female ranks, they’re all separated by color. Kate is juggling with the fact that her uniform is way too big, she’s not sure how to handle her gun, and the men she’s supposed to be working with only see her as a collection of attractive body parts. Add in the fact that the Atlanta Police Department is still reeling from the death of a fellow officer and Kate has walked into an extremely volatile situation. Despite all of this, Kate refuses to give up. She sets out to try and prove herself even though she really has no idea what she is doing.

Maggie Lawson is only too familiar with the craziness in the Atlanta Police Department. Both her brother and her uncle are on the force. Add in the fact that Maggie is a cop as well and her family life is more than a tad complicated. Having family so enmeshed in the force means that Maggie has to continuously prove herself and that has left her with multiple axes to grind. When Kate Murphy shows up, Maggie knows she is going to be a handful. Kate and Maggie soon find themselves partnered together, even though it’s against regulations. This action is made to isolate Kate and Maggie from the rest of the police, to essentially keep them out of everyone else’s way. Despite being paired together, the women soon find themselves right in the middle of a major criminal situation.  Kate and Maggie are forced to learn to work together to figure out who they can trust and what the real truth is.


This book is available in the following formats:

Invisible by James Patterson

 

James Patterson has slowly wormed his way in as one of my favorite authors. Every time I pick up one of his books, I know I’m going to enjoy it. If he’s not writing a book by himself, Patterson teams up with other writers, thus making his books change slightly from person to person. I have yet to find one that hasn’t piqued my interest and as such I plan to keep reading books by James Patterson until I grow tired of him.

Invisible by James Patterson and David Ellis was my latest listen. I had listened to another Patterson/Ellis book previously, so I pretty much knew I was going to enjoy it. Bonus part: the male narrator of this book(there are multiple narrators) is someone that has narrated other books that I have really enjoyed. His delivery really captures each character’s personality.

In Invisible, Emmy Dockery is on leave from the FBI. After her sister’s grisly death, Emmy finds that she can’t do her job as a research analyst for the FBI as effectively as she used to. On leave, her sister’s death consumes her. Emmy is obsessed with finding a link between hundreds of unsolved cases that she believes are connected. Having set up Google alerts for crimes similar to how her sister died, Emmy is inundated with newspaper clippings of events that all seem to be related. Waking up gasping in the middle of the night, Emmy’s recurring nightmares mimic how her sister died and leave her even more desirous to connect these unsolved cases. Calling in a favor from her ex-boyfriend, field agent Harrison “Books” Bookman, Emmy hopes that he will be able to help her finding the missing piece in this string of brutal kidnappings, rapes, and murders that all have a fire element. No one believes her that these unsolved cases could be connected, even when she lines up all the facts that she has gathered. It isn’t until Emmy finds a certain piece of evidence that Books perks up and begins to believe that what she is saying could possible be true. This story alternated between Emmy’s story and a mystery man’s story. Reading those alternate chapters back to back really ups the creepy, thrilling, suspenseful nature of this book.


This book is also available in the following formats:

Horror Week at DPL – Creepy Capote

Horror Week at Davenport Library wraps up today with this terrifying suggestion from Lynn. Read at your own risk!

Handcarved coffins“Handcarved Coffins” (in the book Music for Chameleons) is a piece of novelistic journalism; Capote’s spare and economical style makes the ever-increasing  suspense immediate.

A state cop relates the stories of a series of horrific murders to Capote. The first are killed by rabid rattlesnakes that attack a couple as they open their car doors. The next die in a fire, trapped in their basement. The victims are sent a small, balsa coffin with a candid photograph of themselves. As the murders mount up, the recipients  are more aware of their fate and suffer unique torture as they wonder how and when they will die.

The murders are impossible to anticipate and guard against, and, seemingly, have no connection to each other. Their very randomness and the generic small midwestern town setting  give the murders a sense of universality – (this could happen to ME).  The fact that the victims seem entirely innocent makes the evil more purely heinous. Because this is supposed to be a piece of reportage, Capote never switches perspective to the psychopath, as is so common now. This is a piece of simple, classic horror. And it may be true.

Now it’s your turn – what’s your favorite scary book or movie? Leave a comment!