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This is the story of the Bloody Benders, a family of serial killers who lived in Kansas between 1971 and 1973. I confess that I didn’t know about their existence before listening to this book, and I am surprised that they did not become more famous. They ran a small store and hosted guests that passed through, killing them and burying them around their property.
Novelization of historical events implies several things: Historical accuracy, attention to details, enrichment of the language, character development, and enough imagination for filling the gaps. Nicastro has excelled in the first three aspects. He has taken the official version of the events and has written a story full of details, using a beautiful and elaborate language. But a novel requires a bit more than that. I really missed some more character development, especially regarding Kate, the supposed daughter of the family and the main character that we follow from beginning to end. The Bender’s motivations to kill the travelers are not clear or specified; it could have been pure greed, the joy for killing, or a mix of both. I would have just liked for Nicastro to explore this further. And this is the ‘filling the gaps’ that I have mentioned before. Without character development and completing the story to form a novel, this could have just been a biography. I missed more fluid dialogs and seeing into the characters’ psyches. We guess Kate had some issues with these kills, but just because she tries to seek a different way of income. I think exploring her thoughts and intentions would have made this book so much more interesting. I wanted to connect to Kate but I was not able to.
Aven Shore’s narration was mostly correct but a bit monotone. There were interference noises at several points in the audiobook , and some words were mispronounced (‘whore’ sounded like ‘wore’ the first two times it appear in the book, and instead of ‘breast pocket’, Shore said ‘best pocket’). There was music at two points in the audiobook that did not seem necessary. I’m just not a fan of music nor fx in audiobooks.
Despite the minor setbacks, this was an entertaining book that I would recommend to anyone into western stories and with curiosity about historical events.
I received a copy of this book in audio format from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
I highly recommend Hell's Half-Acre. It's a fascinating, entertaining, well told tale.
What did you like best about this story?
It's a perfect blend and balance of historical fiction that kept me interested and entertained from beginning to end.
What about Aven Shore’s performance did you like?
Her performance kept me riveted and on the edge of my seat.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Yes, I did have an extreme reaction to this book.
Any additional comments?
I highly recommend this book to anyone fascinated by historical fiction, thrillers, and serial killers.
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