When 11-year-old James Renner fell in love with Amy Mihaljevic, the missing girl seen on posters all over his neighborhood, it was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with true crime. That obsession led James to a successful career as an investigative journalist. It also gave him PTSD.
In 2011 James began researching the strange disappearance of Maura Murray, a UMass student who went missing after wrecking her car in rural New Hampshire in 2004. Over the course of his investigation, he uncovered numerous important and shocking new clues about what may have happened to Maura but also found himself in increasingly dangerous situations with little regard for his own well-being.
As his quest to find Maura deepened, the case started taking a toll on his personal life, which began to spiral out of control. The result is an absorbing dual investigation of the complicated story of the all-American girl who went missing and James' own equally complicated true crime addiction.
James Renner's True Crime Addict is the story of his spellbinding investigation of the missing person case of Maura Murray, which has taken on a life of its own for armchair sleuths across the web. In the spirit of David Fincher's Zodiac, it is a fascinating look at a case that has eluded authorities and one man's obsessive quest for the answers.
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This is not journalism
Renner is a good writer and the narration is done well, but his type of "journalism" is the reason police departments hate media. His book is not fact but conspiracy theories and biased opinions about Murray's father and siblings. He never actually interviews Maura's father, just trespasses on his property and peers through his back door. Most of Maura's immediate family does not grant him their time but he still manages to exploit their alleged dysfunction and addictions. He is disparaging and hateful toward Maura's family and although he professes to stand by the lost edict of journalism, just report the facts, his reporting comes across like an anonymous commentator on a crime forum. He accuses Maura's father of inappropriate relations with his daughter although he has zero proof. Apparently sharing a hotel room with your daughter and taking her hiking and camping throughout her childhood is his enough evidence to accuse Mr. Murray of incestuous behavior. He interjects himself in situations in desperate effort to incite confrontation and when he fails to do so, he gets himself thrown in jail for contempt of court in an obvious attempt to stir up content for his book/ blog. If six days in a municipal lock up is enough to send him over the edge then actual journalism may not be for him.
I had heard of the Murray case, but not about Renner or the PodCast about Maura before I bought this book. Yes,it is entertaining but at the cost of slandering a dead girl and her family's reputation. I am sorry I paid for this book allowing Renner to further profit off the unimaginable grief of the Murray family. Renner is a self-confessed sociopath and lives up to the definition. Go spend your money elsewhere.
- Tiffany Thompson
Honest. Surprising. Fascinating.
This book is the audio equivalent of a page-turner. I was pleasantly surprised by the author's honesty and personal insight.
Strangely, I was reminded of the "Dexter" series. This was a compelling, clear-eyed account from an unexpected source (given the author's psychology).
As any faithful audio listener knows, there is a special place in Hell for authors who read (and thoroughly screw up) their own work. I approach works read by their author with extreme caution, as what are the chances that an author will be a good writer AND a decent performer? But in this case, James Renner does his own book justice and was the perfect choice here.
I was surprised at the author's willingness to expose several less than flattering aspects of his own life/personality. I respect this choice a great deal, as it would have been all too easy for him to hide his true motives for writing this book behind a veil of compassionate concern for the victim. Instead, he chose to be real with his readers, and that elevated this book from true crime/journalistic gumshoe to something closer to literary non-fiction.
Spend a credit on this one. I've listened to hundreds of titles on Audible and this ranks right up there with some of the best.
- River Holmes-miller