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First Look Club: Clifford reviews Killers Amidst Killers by Billy Jensen

First Look Club: Clifford reviews Killers Amidst Killers by Billy Jensen

KILLERS AMIDST KILLERS 

By Billy Jensen

Publication date: July 19, 2022

Reviewed by Clifford Jongko


Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn't.

— Mark Twain

True crime in literature scares me. The irony of it is that crime fiction is one of my all-time favorite genres. I think it’s because crime fiction is…safe. No matter how outlandish or brutal the crime, you get to unmask the killer at the end of the book like a Scooby-Doo villain. You get to see the world through their eyes. You bear witness to the act.

True crime, on the other hand, is an entirely different animal. You don’t know whether or not you will get to unmask the killer by the end, or if the victim will get justice. You’ll never get a glimpse of how the cogs in a killer’s mind work. You never bear witness to the act.

Worst of all, you know that the crimes involved real people. Real victims. Real killers.

Internet Sleuths

Upon reading the first few chapters of Killers Amidst Killers, the first thing that came to mind was Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, a documentary about a young woman who mysteriously disappeared while staying at a Los Angeles hotel. The documentary was my first exposure to the existence of internet sleuths — people on the internet who take interest in crimes and try to solve it themselves.

I’d be oversimplifying it if I put author Billy Jensen in the same box as these people, simply because of his track record: he actually helped solve several cases. He even wrote a book about his origin story, Chase Darkness With Me. True crime aficionados would already be familiar with his podcast Unraveled, or his appearances in the TV show Crime Watch Daily.

Connecting the Dots

Killers Amidst Killers is Billy Jensen’s harrowing account of the time he spent investigating a series of murders in Southern Ohio. He described how the initial investigation, conducted by local law enforcement, overlooked many details — including certain similarities that helped him connect the dots that point to the murders being serial killings.

The common element between these murders is opioids: the victims were either hooked on it or are involved with dealers. Using both traditional legwork and internet sleuthing, Jensen presented a clearer picture of how each victim lived: some of them had children, some were undergoing rehab, some were looking forward to a bright future. In a fictional story, we’d see flashbacks of the best moments of their lives. Here, we only get a glimpse through stories told by their friends and family.

Roadblocks

Even with investigative skills of his caliber, Jensen still ran into roadblocks. He described in the book how he had to deal with covering the killings on national television — not just because of the grisly subject matter, but also because it’s not easy to grab the attention of the average viewer. As he described in an early chapter:

We would “clean them up” for television. Daneille [Greene] and Lindsey [Maccabee] would not be sex workers. They would be going out on “dates.” Why? Because the mainstream media believes that viewers will tune out as soon as they hear the victims are sex workers.

There’s also the matter of red tape from law enforcement, regulations that hinder the investigation instead of helping it, and — in later chapters of the book — officers who are not what they seem. All of these elements paint a grim yet clearer picture of neighboring towns terrorized by serial killings.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Killers Amidst Killers is a solid read; a good addition to people who enjoy true crime stories. I even found myself checking out the Facebook pages referenced in the book — at the risk of sounding like a callous jerk, it added an interactive layer to the reading experience. Before I knew it, I went further down the rabbit hole: I’m watching the docuseries I’ll Be Gone In the Dark, a show that the author appeared in and co-produced, while proofreading this review.


Clifford is a content writer, musician, and caffeine fiend who co-hosts comic book podcast Those Fcking Nerds (@thoseeffingnerds) on Facebook, designs custom slipcases and box sets, and does the occasional unboxing and haul videos. Check his stuff out on Instagram (@tapsilogic) and his YouTube channel at your own peril.

[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]



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