Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review of The Restless Sleep by Stacy Horn

I read The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City’s Cold Case Squad as part of the Nonfiction November Readalong. The book allows the reader to follow detectives as they try to wrap-up four unrelated unsolved cases, which include the 1951 murder of a woman in her apartment (involving poop – GAH!), the murder of a couple involved in the drug trade (in front of their children – GAH!), the murder of a police officer (involving a meat hook to the eye – GAH!), and the murder of a kid (just GAH!). I read lots of crime fiction, but the sordid details of these real-life cases were difficult for me to handle.

My favorite parts of the book involved the discussion of the evolution of forensics (and how frustrating it can be to build a case without modern forensics). If you’re interested in learning how cadaver dogs become cadaver dogs, or how the process of DNA identification of old evidence happens (or doesn’t), there are some great details in here for you.

However, this is largely a story of bureaucracy – how the Cold Case Squad came into being and how it is being dismantled. The reader learns about office politics and financial politics and the complicated organizational webs that make “justice” a complex process. And with that, I felt a little empty handed by the conclusion of this book where we learn that there are not enough resources dedicated to old, low-profile cases, and, well, that’s the way it is.

The structure of this book reminded me a bit of The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths are Solving America’s Coldest Cases. That Book also had some great details about the process of solving missing/unidentified persons cases (by lay people!), but there were also large, very detailed parts of the book about the organization of internet communities that left me frustrated. Perhaps this frustration merely indicates is just my own curiosity lies in the cases themselves, not in the politics of crime fighting.

On a different note, It looks like this author’s most recent book is about singing (ha – a different note! Get it? I could have said that she changed her tune. Sorry. I’ll stop.). Here’s the Goodreads blurb about Imperfect Harmony: Singing Through Life’s Sharps and Flats:

Why do we sing? For Stacy Horn, singing in a community choir the Choral Society of Grace Church in New York is the one thing in her life that never fails to take her to a transcendent place and remind her that everything good is possible. She’s not particularly religious and (she’ll be the first to point out) her voice isn’t exactly the stuff of legend, but like thousands of other amateur chorus members throughout this country and the world, singing with other people makes her happy. As Horn relates her funny and profound experiences as a choir member, she treats us to an eclectic history of group singing and the music that moves us, whether we re hearing it for the first time or the hundredth; the dramatic stories of conductors and composers; and discoveries from the new science of singing, including the remarkable physical benefits of song.

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