Murder Book – Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell

I’ve spent so much time watching, reading and listening to all things true crime and I’ve wondered at times if my interest is too weird, too morbid or too much. I love that Hilary shares my obsession.

In this graphic memoir, Hilary traces her true crime obsession, from members of her family whose obsessions sparked her own to the movies, books, TV shows and podcasts that kept the flame burning.

David Fincher’s Zodiac had a huge impact on Hilary, in part because she lived so close to some of the crime scenes. True crime even got her back into reading as an adult, first with Robert Graysmith’s Zodiac and then anything by Ann Rule.


Hilary considers why the majority of people who watch, read and otherwise devour true crime are women. She also tracks how the types of true crime that have been written about have changed throughout the decades.


Although this is a memoir, Hilary also explores some crimes that hold special significance to her, including the murder of Anne Marie Fahey and the murders committed by Ted Bundy. I never expected to see true crime explored in a graphic novel, but it worked.

The victims of crime are often practically invisible in their own stories but there was a focus on them here. I especially appreciated learning what their interests were. For example, Betty Lou Jensen liked art, school, studying and fashion.

I know I like to joke, but in all seriousness, a large part of the reason I love true crime is the hope of justice for the victims.

Of course, all of this talk about what started Hilary’s obsession got me thinking about my own. I think I can blame my Nan for planting the seed. Her father was the superintendent of ambulances in our state when she was growing up and he had plenty of medical books showing graphic injuries in the home. My Nan grew up reading these gruesome accounts. I grew up listening in awe as Nan regaled me with the stories in those books, always describing the accompanying pictures in detail.

When I was sixteen, the older sister of one of my childhood friends was murdered. She grew up around the corner from me and I had sleepovers at their house when I was a kid. The police officer who lived down the road from me told me more about the crime and subsequent investigation than they probably should have. Obviously I followed the case as it went to trial and the media appearances by her family over the years.

My obsession really took off at university, though. My favourite assessment was when my psychology class was given a murder scenario. Our task was to profile the murderer. I loved trying to get inside the mind of the perpetrator.

This assessment led me to John Douglas books, which only fuelled my obsession. I wanted to be a criminal profiler years before Criminal Minds premiered. Naturally, I was obsessed with that show (especially with Reid).

It’s only been recently that I’ve come across someone who shares my love of true crime and I personally blame them for my latest true crime obsession: Crime Junkie.


Within a few short months, I’ve devoured dozens of episodes. I always knew but now I’ve had it drilled into me that it’s never a mannequin. I now answer “And I’m Brit” at the beginning of each episode. “Be weird. Be rude. Stay alive.” has become a new mantra.

If you’re a true crime junkie, you will find a kindred spirit in Hilary. If you know someone who loves true crime but you just don’t get the fascination, this graphic novel may help you understand what it’s all about.

There’s a lot more text in this graphic novel than most I have previously read. I had difficulty figuring out which order I should be reading panels on some pages but the majority of them were easy to follow. I enjoyed the artwork.

There’s humour, like this all too accurate description of movies that are ‘based on true stories’.

It’s the DRAMATIC, SEXY version of a REALLY HORRIBLE situation that you would never find sexy if it happened to YOU!

It’s relatable. Hilary’s ability to love true crime, Disney, horror movies and Peanuts simultaneously mirrors my own strangely contradictory loves.

It’s a graphic novel I definitely want to reread.


Thank you so much to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A humorous graphic investigation of the author’s obsession with true crime, the murders that have most captivated her throughout her life, and a love letter to her fellow true-crime fanatics.

Why is it so much fun to read about death and dismemberment? In Murder Book, lifelong true-crime obsessive and New Yorker cartoonist Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell tries to puzzle out the answer. An unconventional graphic exploration of a lifetime of Ann Rule super-fandom, amateur armchair sleuthing, and a deep dive into the high-profile murders that have fascinated the author for decades, this is a funny, thoughtful, and highly personal blend of memoir, cultural criticism, and true crime with a focus on the often-overlooked victims of notorious killers.

Unbelievable – T. Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong

I heard the hype surrounding the Netflix series before I learned of this book’s existence. Because of my belief in the almost universal truth that “the book was better”, I wanted to make sure I knew the facts first. And facts were what I learned.

I got the who, the what, the when, the why and the how, but I didn’t always get the emotion behind them. I expected to ugly cry my way through this book but for some reason (I’m still unsure if this is a personal failing or due to the investigative nature of the writing) most of my emotions remained at arm’s length the majority of the time.

I was infuriated by the way Marie was actively disbelieved and accused of making up her rape by the police and most of the people in her life. I was incensed every single time another woman was brutally raped after Marie was because these traumas were not inevitable; if only someone had taken Marie seriously the man who raped her may well have been apprehended before any other woman woke up to find him in their bedroom.

On March 18, they arrived – two years, seven months, and one week after Marie had been raped.

Survivors of sexual assault should be assured that they are believed, that the assault it was not their fault, that they’re not alone and help is not only available, but deserved. Marie lived for two years, seven months, and one week alone on her experience because almost everyone she told dismissed her, and even more infuriating, her story is not unique.

Extraordinary as Marie’s case was – a victim assaulted, then accused – others like it could be found around the country, reflecting, in some police departments, a dismissiveness toward reports of sexual violence that at times crossed into hostility.

My ugly cry though? It’s still right here waiting to be released, probably when my library buys the DVD of the Netflix series.

Interviews and documents described by the authors highlight how a lack of investigation, and indeed an outright dismissal of a victim’s story that resulted in them being charged with making a false statement, turned into an investigation that involved multiple police departments. How the act of not believing one victim can contribute to a perpetrator going on to violate numerous other victims. How the justice system can both fail victims and get it right. The importance of police attitudes toward sexual violence.

I learned a lot about the origins of the fear of false allegations (thanks a lot, Sir Matthew Hale, you [insert expletive of your choice here]) and how they have impacted society as a whole over time. I never knew the history of rape kits prior to reading this book, only the statistics surrounding how many collect dust rather than being tested. The wannabe criminal profiler in me pored over all of the details pertaining to the investigative processes. The pedantic in me needs to know what the Wretch contains and wants to learn cryptology so I can crack that specific code and assist in providing justice to anyone who’s affected by its contents.

While I was reading I kept thinking this story was the perfect example of police investigating gone both right and terribly wrong so I found the note from the authors at the end of the book fitting. The initial focus of T. Christian Miller’s reporting was “to profile an investigation done right”, whereas Ken Armstrong sought to “reconstruct an investigation gone wrong”.

While this story begins and ends with Marie, it is not only her story. It is also the story of Doris, Lilly, Sarah, Amber and countless others who have survived the “unbelievable”. Their resilience and courage are extraordinary. This book should be required reading for anyone even tangentially involved in the justice system.

Content warnings include descriptions of sexual assault.

If you need support or information relating to sexual assault, you can contact:

You can also search for resources in over a hundred countries at:

Please know that it was not your fault, you are not alone and I believe you. 💜

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

On August 11, 2008, eighteen-year-old Marie reported that a masked man broke into her apartment near Seattle, Washington, and raped her. Within days police and even those closest to Marie became suspicious of her story. The police swiftly pivoted and began investigating Marie. Confronted with inconsistencies in her story and the doubts of others, Marie broke down and said her story was a lie – a bid for attention. Police charged Marie with false reporting, and she was branded a liar.

More than two years later, Colorado detective Stacy Galbraith was assigned to investigate a case of sexual assault. Describing the crime to her husband that night, Galbraith learned that the case bore an eerie resemblance to a rape that had taken place months earlier in a nearby town. She joined forces with the detective on that case, Edna Hendershot, and the two soon discovered they were dealing with a serial rapist: a man who photographed his victims, threatening to release the images online, and whose calculated steps to erase all physical evidence suggested he might be a soldier or a cop. Through meticulous police work the detectives would eventually connect the rapist to other attacks in Colorado – and beyond.

Based on investigative files and extensive interviews with the principals, Unbelievable is a serpentine tale of doubt, lies, and a hunt for justice, unveiling the disturbing truth of how sexual assault is investigated today – and the long history of skepticism toward rape victims. 

The Killer Across the Table – John Douglas & Mark Olshaker

Have you ever considered who you’d invite to your fantasy Ultimate Dinner Party? John Douglas is one of my top five fantasy guests; although, introvert that I am, I’d much prefer a one on one conversation with him.

My main takeaway from my psychology degree was my obsession with criminal profiling. My favourite assessment was when I was given a scenario that detailed a crime scene and my job was to profile the UNSUB. I bought and devoured every John Douglas book he’d written at the time and fantasised about moving to America to join the FBI. I wanted to be a criminal profiler way before Criminal Minds premiered and if I had a do-over of my life, you’d know me as Special Agent Nerd and I would have been mentored by Mr Douglas. Ah, fantasy land…

Why? + How? = Who.

Built around conversations with four violent predators, The Killer Across the Table provides relevant information about their backgrounds, how they offended, what they thought in the lead up to, during and after their offences, and importantly, gives valuable insights that can help investigators prevent similar crimes or assist in apprehending offenders.

With its content this book could easily have sensationalised the crimes but the authors recount the details of the cases and their perpetrators in a matter of fact way; as matter of fact as you can be when discussing sexual assault, torture and murder. With clear empathy and compassion for the victims and their loved ones, their stories are told in a way that at once honours the people they were but also affords them a dignity they were denied by their murderers.

Given his pioneering work in the field of criminal investigations and profiling, John Douglas could easily (and justifiably) come across as a know it all seeking glory for his brilliance. But he doesn’t. He explains his approach and why he treats the offenders he interviews well but I don’t feel any arrogance in the writing.

At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking the authors are name dropping when they casually explain something by making comparisons with renowned criminals like Bundy or Manson, but John Douglas has interviewed so many household names that it feels organic when he links certain aspects of cases. The explanations add to your understanding of not only the case he’s referencing, but also provides insights into others.

I haven’t read a John Douglas book in several years but this read has reawakened my need to reread all of my previous reads and to finally read the couple I haven’t actually read yet. If you have even a passing interest in what makes people who commit horrendous crimes tick, I can’t recommend these authors’ books to you enough.

Content warnings include descriptions of sexual assault, torture and murder of adults and children.

Ecstatic Update:

I just ordered a signed copy of this book! I’m going to own a signed copy of a John Douglas book! Need morning to come so it’s more socially acceptable to jump up and down with glee!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Twenty years after his famous memoir, the man who literally wrote the book on FBI criminal profiling opens his case files once again. In this riveting work of true crime, he spotlights four of the most diabolical criminals he’s confronted, interviewed and learned from. Going deep into each man’s life and crimes, he outlines the factors that led them to murder and how he used his interrogation skills to expose their means, motives, and true evil.

Like the hit Netflix show, The Killer Across the Table is centered around Douglas’ unique interrogation and profiling process. With his longtime collaborator Mark Olshaker, Douglas recounts the chilling encounters with these four killers as he experienced them – revealing for the first time his profile methods in detail. 

Going step by step through his interviews, Douglas explains how he connects each killer’s crimes to the specific conversation, and contrasts these encounters with those of other deadly criminals to show what he learns from each one. In the process, he returns to other famous cases, killers and interviews that have shaped his career, describing how the knowledge he gained from those exchanges helped prepare him for these.

A glimpse into the mind of a man who has pierced the heart of human darkness, The Killer Across the Table unlocks the ultimate mystery of depravity and the techniques and approaches that have countered evil in the name of justice.