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Murder by the Book


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#1

Vital Verve

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Posted Nov 27, 2006 @ 2:48 PM

"Murder by the Book" is a Court TV series that has famous authors of crime novels talking about true-crime cases that had a big influence on them. More info on the series ishere.

The first episode was James Ellroy talking about the still-unsolved murder of his mother. Other authors featured in the series are Michael Connelly, Jonathan Kellerman, Faye Kellerman, and Lisa Scottoline.

Anyone watching this show? The first episode got great reatings (over 1 million viewers) for Court TV, so it seems likely that the show will be renewed.

James Ellroy came off as really messed-up and creepy but he's certainly got a way with words, as in he really knows how to tell a good story. He said the "Murder by the Book" episode will be the last public statement he makes about his mother's murder case.

The Jonathan Kellerman episode airing Nov. 27 will be about the famous Richard Boggs/Gene Hanson/John Hawkins case. Boggs was a doctor who killed a homeless man in his office and tried to pass the dead body off as Gene Hanson, a guy who paid Boggs to fake Hanson's death for insurance money. Hanson's business partner, John Hawkins, was in on the scam but Hawkins escaped arrest until he was featured on "America's Most Wanted." This case has been featured on many other true-crime shows (Forensic Files, Amercian Justice), and there was even a TV movie about it.

#2

chitowngirl

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Posted Nov 27, 2006 @ 7:47 PM

I'll be watching tonight, since Jonathan Kellerman is one of my favorite authors. I have seen and heard about the crime several times (esp. because I used to work in life insurance claims). It will be interesting to hear what Kellerman has to say.

#3

nohwheregirl

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Posted Nov 27, 2006 @ 8:23 PM

I've seen the James Ellroy episode. I've read his book My Dark Places about his mother's murder. It's a good read. He is one messed up dude...with good reason. In the book, he reveals his "perverse" feelings for his mother because they were part of his life story. However, in his episode, I felt like he kept repeating the phrase about his "lust" for his mother over and over purely for shock value. If that's how he wants to sell more books, more power to him, but he comes off looking like a creep.

BTW, I'm glad Court TV managed to come up with a new idea for a show that doesn't involve a "Cops"-like formula or psychics. Their primetime lineup has been really pathetic lately.

#4

Vital Verve

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Posted Nov 27, 2006 @ 8:49 PM

I've seen the James Ellroy episode. I've read his book My Dark Places about his mother's murder. It's a good read. He is one messed up dude...with good reason. In the book, he reveals his "perverse" feelings for his mother because they were part of his life story. However, in his episode, I felt like he kept repeating the phrase about his "lust" for his mother over and over purely for shock value. If that's how he wants to sell more books, more power to him, but he comes off looking like a creep.


I agree. His constant repetition of how he lusted for and hated his mother was too much and a real turnoff. It was good that James Ellroy's ex-wife was interviewed so there could be another perspective besides his on how he coped with re-investigating his mother's murder. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to be married to someone like James Ellroy who's so obviously creepy, narcissistic, and messed-up. And even though Ellroy said he used to be a Peeping Tom when he was younger, I couldn't help feeling that he probably still engages in perverted behavior. He may not be a Peeping Tm anymore, but he probably does things like hire hookers to pretend to be his mother.

There's an interview with James Ellroy on CourtTV.com where he says he's the greatest crime novelist ever. What a massive ego. Gee, I guess he'd like people to forget about Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

ETA: Court TV has renewed this show. No word yet on when new episodes wil start airing.

Edited by Vital Verve, Feb 8, 2007 @ 2:13 PM.


#5

YuppieLawyer

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Posted Nov 20, 2007 @ 11:56 AM

Is anyone watching the new episodes? This week's was hardly worth it, IMO. It was Lisa Gardner talking about a formulaic pretty white woman gone missing who had been sexually assaulted (with use of GHB) and murdered by some creep she met at a bar. I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out why this was such an interesting case that it would attract the attention of a crime novelist. It seemed like the only reason it would interest her at all was that it was going on near where she lived.

I also thought her narration, and the voiceover narration by the usual guy, was retarded. At one point, the police had the story of a visiting out-of-town suitor (who she clearly wanted to be only friends with) saying that they had gone to a bar, she had met some other guys and played pool with them, he went to the bathroom, she was gone, so he drove home and waited for her, and she never came back. They also had the story of a couple of guys who met her at the bar, played pool with her, invited her to a "party" at their place, which turned out to be just them and her, she felt uncomfortable, so one of the guys drove her back to the bar, and left. Both the author and the voiceover guy repeatedly said that police were faced with two different versions of events. Far from two different versions, they were two accounts from different people's perspectives that meshed just fine, and weren't inconsistent with one another. I thought it was a very poor episode.

From a long time ago:

Boggs was a doctor who killed a homeless man in his office and tried to pass the dead body off as Gene Hanson, a guy who paid Boggs to fake Hanson's death for insurance money.

FWIW, the man who was murdered was not homeless. He was an accountant who had gone missing after being dropped off by a friend at a gay bar. (Boggs had picked him up there and lured him back to his office, where he killed him.)

Edited by YuppieLawyer, Nov 20, 2007 @ 11:57 AM.


#6

gornishka

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Posted Nov 21, 2007 @ 1:50 AM

This week's was hardly worth it, IMO.


Yeah, I think the episodes would be much stronger if, instead of random big name author, the show had someone who'd actually written a book about the spotlighted case. This week particularly it seemed like such a time-wasting device.

#7

Suz at Large

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Posted Nov 21, 2007 @ 11:10 AM

I haven't seen the Lisa Gardner episode, but I saw the one (last week?) with Sandra Brown.

Ms. Brown may be a terrific novelist, but she came across as smarmy and phony on the show.

IMO it's a sad waste of bandwidth.

#8

YuppieLawyer

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Posted Nov 21, 2007 @ 12:49 PM

I just think the case they're talking about needs to have an extra something about it to be interesting--either a truly personal connection to the author, or something about the case itself. Some standard white woman in distress story doesn't cut it.

Obviously not every case can be the Boggs/Hanson/Hawkins conspiracy or the Reinert murders. But there is a reason books have been written about those particular cases, and not every other murder in the country. I thought that was the premise of the show--actual crime stories that are so twisty-turny fascinating that crime novelists used them for inspiration. The story of some girl who got killed by a creep who picked her up in a bar isn't exactly dramatic stuff.

#9

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Posted Nov 21, 2007 @ 2:26 PM

I kind of agree with you in general, Yuppie Lawyer ,the Lisa Gardner one was a fairly interesting writer and a boring case and came out fairly dull because of it; the Ellroy one erred in the other direction, with what could have been an interesting case, but a tedious writer, and came out tedious, as well. The producers have given themselves a very narrow line to walk.

#10

Suz at Large

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Posted Nov 22, 2007 @ 1:05 PM

The producers have given themselves a very narrow line to walk.


True. I may look at the Sandra Brown episode when they re-run it to see if my memory is correct. IIRC the episode left a bad taste with me because it took a smirky smart-ass tone. When the crime involved was a horrific murder. Actually scarier to me than serial killer crimes - because the victim was slaughtered in her own kitchen by someone she let into the house.

The Lisa Gardner episode was just dull. Gardner said she had "personally" followed the story in the news as it developed and she claimed to feel some special link to it because she's the mother of a young daughter or something. How very un-special of her. Good grief, everybody I know is either (a) a young woman or (b) the friend or relative of a young woman.

I wonder what direction the programming will take when Court TV becomes TRU TV on January 1. Same old stuff under a new name?

#11

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Posted Nov 25, 2007 @ 12:29 AM

I like the James Ellroy episode best so far - he's just such a colorful guy. I'd like to see him and Harlan Ellison competing in the same conversation.

I liked Ellroy's book "My Dark Places" a lot. There's no way such an incident in childhood could've escaped molding him. What sort of fascinates me is it wouldn't have been surprising, given his beginnings and ensuing downward spiral, if he'd become a killer himself - but he writes about them, instead. And quite well at that. He really did have some unhealthy obsessions growing up. The Peeping Tom stuff was disturbing. If memory serves he (as a teen) also entered homes of girls he crushed on and stole lingerie.

I also liked the episode about the fake photographer/serial killer, although I can't recall the writer's name. I recall that case as it happened. Watching the episode now, I couldn't help thinking, those 'girls' would be about my age - but never got to be. "Photographer" seems to be a popular ruse for serial killers, doesn't it?

Edited by Circus Poodle, Nov 25, 2007 @ 12:31 AM.


#12

YuppieLawyer

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Posted Nov 27, 2007 @ 1:44 PM

So, the weirdest thing to me about the recent Joseph Wambaugh episode was that even though they must have shown shots of his many true crime novels 100 times during the episode, they never once showed "Echoes in the Darkness," his novel about the Reinert murders that was previously featured on the show with Lisa Scottoline. That could be due to the fact that it was learned after the publication of his book that he had bribed police officers in the case to feed him information, but only on condition that one of the suspects actually be arrested and convicted. That was part of the police and prosecutorial misconduct that resulted in the guy being set free and the state being barred from retrying him (not that any of this--Wambaugh's involvement in the misconduct--was mentioned in Scottoline's episode where she concluded that justice wasn't really done). I have refused to read anything Wambaugh writes ever since I learned of his part in railroading a probably innocent man. I watched his MbtB episode out of curiosity to see if they would make any mention of "Echoes" or his relation to the scandal.

Edited by YuppieLawyer, Nov 27, 2007 @ 2:39 PM.


#13

texcat

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Posted Dec 23, 2008 @ 10:12 AM

I don't understand how this show matches an author and a crime. I watched the Sandra Brown episode (about the ax murder in Wylie, TX) and she had nothing at all to add to the show except by commenting "This intrigued me" at every commercial break. Wouldn't it have been better to have had someone who actually researched the crime as the featured author? I would have much preferred John Bloom who wrote about the case in Evidence of Love.

There was an affair between the victim's husband and the woman who committed the murder -- Sandra Brown's comment was "I write about [fictional] affairs so I know how affairs can be messy" or something to that effect. I'm sorry, Ms. Brown, but if you are writing about fictional people having fictional affairs, the affairs are as "messy" or "unmessy" as you choose to write them. Again, you had no actual insight into or connection to this case.

#14

PJWatcher

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Posted Jan 13, 2011 @ 9:05 PM

Anyone seen the promos on Investigation Discovery for Ellroy's new show?

INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY EXPLORES THE DARK AND LEWDLY LIGHTER SIDES OF HOLLYWOOD WITH NEW SERIES, JAMES ELLROY'S LA: CITY OF DEMONS


He's creepier in the promos than he was in the "Murder By the Book" episode. He even mentions his mother's murder.

#15

KADC

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Posted Mar 8, 2011 @ 7:07 PM

He's creepier in the promos than he was in the "Murder By the Book" episode. He even mentions his mother's murder.

You mean the murder that he was never going to discuss again in public?

McEllory is a waste of time. I find him pretentious and melodramatic. Everything about him screams, "I'm trying really hard to appear dark and disturbing!" He's worse than a goth kid.

#16

chailey

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Posted Mar 9, 2011 @ 1:04 PM

He's worse than a goth kid.


Bwah! I agree. I can't believe that he's milking his mother's murder to advertise his tv show. Creepy and shameless.