Review of “She is Evil” Madness and Murder in Memphis – By Judith Yates


Fair play warning.  While this book is from my publisher, I purchased my own copy of it and was not coerced into a book review.  My opinions are my own. 

Being a true crime junkie, (it’s part of being a true crime author) it’s hard not to get sucked into this book.  It opens with the discovery of a beheaded and mutilated body.  I was not familiar with Ms. Yates work up to this point, but I have to admit, she hooked me like a big dumb fish with that opening.  How could anyone put it down after that kind of intro?

I refuse to spoil the plot, but suffice it to say the murderess lives up to every bit of the title.  This book is not long – or I should more accurately say, I read it fast.  The victim, Ejaz Ahmad, a Pakistani, embodies everything you desire of the American dream.  He came here legally to carve out a new life.  Had working doesn’t sound like enough of a description of him.  In three chapters I found myself liking this man – a testament to Yate’s writing style.

But like all men, his choice in women was flawed…deadly flawed.  His kindheartedness reminds you of a time when every young man meets a woman that takes advantage of him.  You are caught between the love and lust and the betrayals.

Yates portrayal of Ahmad’s killer, Leah Ward, is such that you find no pity for her.  It is as if she stepped off the set of a season of FX’s Fargo.  The author does not make her a cardboard character, but instead twists the reader around the bizarre blend of mental instability, drugs, and horrific behavior.  As a reader, you find yourself squirming in your seat as Yates recreates the events leading up to the murder.  The mix of an innocent completely sympathetic victim and a gnarled and heartless murderess is something that leaves the reader trapped.  You cannot casually put the book down and convince yourself you know the whole story.  Yates compels you to read on.

The only critique I have of the book, albeit a minor one, is that the writing style is more contemporary than my preference.  In other words, Yates writes in short, crisp, easy to devour chapters.  I prefer somewhat longer (and fewer) chapters.  On the plus side, you can easily cruise through three chapters in an evening (if you dare).  This is purely a matter of personal preference and style on my part – and not a criticism of the book at all.

So, is this an addition to your summer reading list?  You betcha!   Kudos to Judith Yates for a great book and a perfect title.  She is Evil


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