It's a good book, but it's not my Typee...

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Woodchipper Murder

The Woodchipper Murder, by Arthur Herzog, Jr., could have been a much better book.

The story is true and incredibly lurid. Richard Crafts murdered his wife, Helle, in their own bedroom, froze her body, and then fed it through a woodchipper into a flowing river in an attempt to dispose of the remains. During and after this, he told everyone that Helle had disappeared, leaving him to care for their young children alone.

This book gets across the bare facts of the case and occasionally strays into muddy speculation. But it manages to make a fascinating story downright boring. The structure is poor and criticism of the police, forensic experts, and other investigators is thrown in with a heavy hand. Instead of being allowed to follow the information and come to conclusions on their own, readers are clubbed over the head with the idea that this person is EVIL or that person is STUPID.

If you like true crime and have a bit of patience, you probably won't be too disappointed by The Woodchipper Murder. But if there is another book out there on this same case, I can almost guarantee that it's better.