If you know me, you know that cold cases are what I enjoy writing books about. I have a soft spot for them. People are drawn to them for a few reasons. First, they are unsolved – so readers can be drawn in as investigators themselves. Second, people have a desire for closure and cold cases run counter to that. They remain open wounds for communities and for the families of victims. It’s a niche of the true crime genre that man writers shy away from.
I “found” Jason Morrow via his web site – http://www.historicalcrimedetective.com/ two years ago. If you like true crime, you need to visit this site from time to time. He often provides free short true crime pieces out of his files and they can often be quite entertaining. (I’ve been mooching free crime stories from his site almost every month)
I live outside of Washington DC so I picked up The DC Dead Girls Club because it’s both local and it is about cold cases. Specifically the book addresses four cold cases starting in 1929. Virginia McPherson was a case initially where her death was ruled a suicide. Later investigations pointed to a more sinister end for this young woman. The 1930 murder of Mary Baker took place near Arlington National Cemetery. Dubbed the “Mystery of 101 Clues” the case remains unresolved. Nineteen year old Beulah Limerick was murdered on New Year’s Eve in 1930. Her myriad of love affairs and wild sex, combined with a stalking police officer made for a rollercoaster of a case. Finally the 1935 strangulation murder of Corinna Loring just before her wedding is a case that typifies many cold cases even today. This is not a serial killer case – but four short stories about murders of young women.
First off – on the writing – I enjoy Jason Morrow’s style. He does a good job of providing the reader with the backgrounds of the characters and, in at least one case, the strange links between these murders. I think he did a good job in presenting information on the neighborhoods and setting the stage for how things were in the US capital during the time periods.
Second – the research. Morrow seems to have relied heavily on the True Detective genre of magazines and the newspapers. I know, from experience, that these are not bad sources. Often times the stories in magazines of the era like Front Page Detective were written by either the officers involved in the case or by newspaper reporters who intimately covered the cases. It is very hard to get access to old case files from this time period – so Morrow chose a good source for his material.
Third – the photos. I think photographs are important in these kind of books and The DC Dead Girls Club has quite a few of them. Photos put you, as the reader, into the story and these are very useful in showing the victims and the evidence.
Bottom line: The DC Dead Girls Club is a solid short true crime book well worth picking up. We need to watch Jason Morrow as an emerging talent in the true crime genre.
Overall, I give this 4.5 out of 5 stars. You have to come into the book knowing this is four separate crimes that are not related other than by their location. Pick this book up and settle back for some criminal investigation before the era of CSI.