True Crime Addict (James Renner)

I made a little bit of a mistake when I was reading this book. I plowed through the last half or so of the book in one evening. But, that wasn’t the mistake. The problem was, I read it right before bed. While home alone. And there were parts that were a little freaky.

True Crime Addict is primarily about the disappearance of Maura Murray. Intertwined with Maura’s story is that of the author, James Renner, and the effects that his own personal true crime addiction has had on his life.

Here's something that looks mysterious, because I couldn't find any better pictures.
Here’s something that looks mysterious, because I couldn’t find any better pictures. Or get permission to use the cover image in time for this post. There’s probably a lesson here in procrastination. Moving on…

I first heard about Maura Murray’s disappearance pretty recently, actually, on a comedy website, of all places (Cracked.com, which you should also read, it’s fantastic). She was listed in an article called 5 Weirdest Disappearances No One Can Explain. I absolutely love a good mystery, in real life or fiction, and this one was certainly compelling. The All-American girl abruptly leaves school. She gets into an accident on the way to locations unknown and vanishes before the police can arrive, only minutes after she was last seen by witnesses.

I’ve seen a fair amount of criticisms that this book was basically exactly the same as James Renner’s blog. However, never having even heard of James Renner before I found this book, I can safely say that that fact does not bother me in the slightest. For me, the book almost read like a novel. It was impossible to put down. On one hand, this sometimes made it almost too easy to forget that this was something that happened to real people. The family of Maura Murray did not want this book written, most of them declined to even speak with the author. On the other hand, it made it ridiculously hard to not get sucked in.

James Renner was also sucked in, so much so that it had an adverse affect on his life. This wasn’t a first for him either: after getting deeply involved in the murder investigation of Amy Mihaljevic (whom he also wrote a book about), Renner suffered PTSD.

My own criticisms are fairly small, but, I do wish he had gone into more detail on certain things. When he spoke to one of the Murray daughters’ former husband, he says that he asked him a sensitive question about the girls’ father. Now, obviously, you can read a certain amount into this, but I would rather know what exactly it was that he asked. I kept waiting for the answer to that, and he never revealed it. Considering that there was a fair bit of speculation going on about what exactly had happened to Maura, I don’t feel like revealing the contents of that particular question would have been out of line. Ok, maybe it would have been somewhat invasive. Maybe, I’m a little nosy. I can live with that.

Ultimately, nothing is really definitely concluded. Not all mysteries are going to have answers that wrap up with a neat bow. However, James Renner does make some decently compelling arguments for his theory of what happened to Maura and where she might be.

All in all, I recommend this for any fans of true crime, or even crime fiction. It’s a quick read and very hard to put down. That being said, I can’t really suggest reading it before bed. It definitely shines a light into some of the darkest corners of mankind.