B O O K R E V I E W : Sign Here by Claudia Lux

Sign Here
by Claudia Lux
On sale today!

Working in Hell is, well, hell. The temperature is never quite right, puddles of indeterminate depth randomly appear, coworkers are horrible and bosses worse, Jägermeister is the only drink besides water available, and don’t even ask about the food. Peyton Trip has suffered through these discomforts (and worse) for eons, but he has a plan—he just needs to get one member of the Harrison family to sign away their soul. Cal, a new recruit to the Deals department, has her own secret schemes that could undermine Pey’s carefully laid groundwork.

Unaware that they are marks, the Harrisons—Silas, Lily, Sean, and Mickey, along with Mickey’s new (and first) best friend, Ruth—travel to their summer house in New Hampshire where generations of the family have vacationed. Pey, though, might not be the biggest threat to the family; instead it could be the secrets in their midst.

Sign Here has such an original premise with details that make hell such a vivid setting (though very disturbing when considering Downstairs where the worst punishment is carried out). The comedy is dark Vonnegut-style rather than LOL humor.

At fourteen, Mickey undergoes the ups and downs of adolescence, idolizing the confident and more experienced Ruth who also makes indelible impressions on the rest of the family as cracks in their relationships allow the past to infect the present.

Pey is a fiendish and manipulative narrator, though sympathetic enough I hoped he escaped hell while Cal thinks she is the smartest person in the room and may be right.

I really enjoyed the book and its messages about love, trust, and redemption. It was a very satisfying read though not light-hearted as I expected. Recommended for readers who enjoy family drama, mysteries, and a touch of something new, and different.

A U D I O B O O K R E V I E W : The Killer’s Shadow by John E. Douglas

In The Killer’s Shadow: The FBI’s Hunt for a White Supremacist Serial Killer, the original mindhunter, John E Douglas and his writing partner Mark Olshaker outline the crimes of Joseph Paul Franklin, a white nationalist serial killer who terrorized Jews, Blacks, and interracial couples for a three-year period in the late 1970s.

Douglas became involved after authorities had identified Franklin but before he’d been captured, so the case challenged the BAU to use profiling not to figure out who committed crimes but to help find him. Franklin was driven to kill those he deemed inferior, and he crossed the country supporting himself through bank robberies and plasma donations so he could enact his twisted mission.

Unlike many serial murderers, Franklin adapted to the situation, using a variety of methods, primarily long-range rifles but also pistols and bombs. An alert blood bank attendant contacted the police, leading to Franklin’s arrest and a string of trials, one in Missouri which led to the death penalty. Douglas’s profile helped lawmakers interrogate Franklin effectively; later, he interviewed the imprisoned Franklin.

Although Franklin’s crimes were committed over forty years ago, they are important to understand, hopefully to prevent similar mission-driven killers from operating in the future. The rhetoric of hate groups provides the fuel for these killers, and in turn, the fear is that the killers will inspire others with similar abhorrent views to copy the violence.

Douglas’s book analyzes this threat and contextualizes it in terms of Trump and MAGA using as examples the Charlottesville white nationalist rally when Hames Allen Fields killed one and injured thirty-five when driving into counterprotesters and the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church mass shooting in Charleston.

Holt McCallany narrates the audiobook, and I thought he did a good job channeling Douglas as well as giving Franklin a fitting voice when quoted.

The link between antisemitic and racist language and violence means it’s crucial to deprive the speech of oxygen to grow, and it’s why Ye’s comments can’t be ignored and why Adidas must cut ties with him.

The Killer’s Shadow is another excellent true crime volume from John Douglas, and the themes are sadly as relevant today as when Franklin committed his crimes.

NOTE: This morning (10/25), Adidas announced it was ending it’s partnership with Ye effective immediately.

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