Book #4: “Death Trap” by M. William Phelps

Death Trap is a true crime book based on the murders of Alan and Terra Bates. Alan’s ex-wife, Jessica McCord, and her husband, Jeff, were both arrested for and convicted of the murders. Jessica McCord was, in a word, evil in the most fascinating of ways. Alan Bates did nothing wrong, only trying to abide by the law and do the best that he could for the two daughters he had with Jessica.

The story itself is very interesting. There are people, real people, that deserve to have their stories told. You feel for the Bates family and the Klugh family and you can’t help but wonder what makes people like Jessica McCord do the things that she did.

I honestly wish there had been more to the story. The whole thing seems to have been told, but it could have been told better.

Phelps, someone I’ve seen on many crime shows on the ID: Investigation Discovery channel that I probably watch too much of, did not tell the story well. With sentences short in the extreme, some barely managing a noun and a verb, the book read more like he was writing a script for the narrator of one the aforementioned shows to read. The writing style was very distracting because of that. I could have dealt with him jumping from the early 1990s to the early 2000s and back again if what was in the chapters had been better; more fleshed out and thoughtful.

I never thought I’d complain that I book was too simplistic, but it really was.

All that being said, my thoughts are with the families of Alan and Terra Bates.

True Crime Novels

My mother and my sister swear by true crime books. They’ve read dozens, I think. So, when I couldn’t find anything I wanted to read last week, I borrowed some of their books. The one I started is called Death Trap and it’s written by M. William Phelps and I’ll be using that as a base for this post.

Have you ever watched the Investigation Discovery channel? I have. It’s sort of addicting.

The narrators of the shows, whether they’re original to ID or repeats of things on NBC or CBS, have a certain way of talking. In very short sentences. For dramatic effect.

It works too. You get interested to the real-life victims and criminals because of the conversational tone of the narration.

I’m realizing it doesn’t work as well in true crime books. Not at all. I feel like a kid. Reading a book. For the first time.

I’m going to read the rest of the book because it is interesting, I just feel a tad silly reading it. Maybe if I read it really fast, it’ll flow together better.