Thursday, January 23, 2014

Captive by Allan Hall

22 August 2002: 21-year-old Michelle Knight disappears walking home.

21 April 2003: Amanda Berry goes missing the day before her seventeenth birthday.

2 April 2004: 14-year-old Gina DeJesus fails to come home from school.

For over a decade these girls remained undetected in a house just three miles from the block where they all went missing, held captive by a terrifying sexual predator. Tortured, starved and raped, kept in chains, Captive reveals the dark obsessions that drove Ariel Castro to kidnap and enslave his innocent victims.

Based on exclusive interviews with witnesses, psychologists, family and police, this is an unflinching record of a truly shocking crime in a very ordinary neighbourhood. Allan Hall was a New York correspondent for ten years, first for the Sun and later for the Daily Mirror. He has spent the last decade covering German-speaking Europe for newspapers including The Times and the Mail on Sunday.

He is the author of two previous books, Monster, an investigation into the life and crimes of Josef Fritzl and Girl in the Cellar: The Natascha Kampusch Story. He lives and works in Berlin.

I was quite keen to read this. I remember hearing about it when the story broke, mostly I just remember the Charles Ramsey You Tube video. I don't remember hearing anything more about it really. I kinda assumed the case was continuing (you know how long some of these things can take). But then I saw the book. I didn't think there could be a book before the case was closed.

And so, right in the last few pages, I discovered that Castro had actually killed himself.

I was also keen to read it since I read I Choose To Live. And, I'm very curious now to also read the Josef Fritzl book. The fact that there are people like this absolutely blows my mind. I just can't comprehend how someone could do this to other people. It is completely horrifying and surreal.

The style of writing is a bit weird since he hadn't spoken to any of the girls when he wrote this. There is a lot of back and forth and bits of repeating. It did sometimes feel like it was all based on the peripheral evidence (which it was, but somehow that pops you out of "story-mode"). But, that said, it is filled with facts and details and history that give you a very clear picture of what happened.

It is frightening. Those poor girls. Hug your sons and daughters extra tight tonight.

* This is one of my Featured Book Reviews, sponsored by Penguin Books.
Read more here.

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