When Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell meet, they have long held alternate beliefs about souls and the coming of the end times. But together, they advance down the path of delusion, culminating in the murder of Lori’s children Tylee and JJ.
I knew of this case from fairly recent developments, when the bodies of the children were found last year, but through this book I learned that the murders had been decades in the making. The author follows Lori and Chad from their childhoods, tracing their respective travails until they finally meet at a conference and began making podcasts together about their loosely Mormonism-based beliefs. Through this exploration we get to know what kind of people they are, though I felt that I learned more about Lori than Chad.
The book is well-written and well-researched, giving us a decent level of detail without getting overly descriptive, which sometimes happens with true crime. For the most part the book does not get graphic, which is a plus as it might have otherwise been overwhelming in the audio format that I consumed it in. The author was able to use a plethora of sources, including the families of Lori and Chad, as well as the detectives who investigated the case, which immerses the reader in the story. And there’s plenty of bizarre details to make you question why people are so gullible.
However, I had a couple issues with this book. The major one is the ending – the case is not yet complete, with Lori and Chad still awaiting trial, which I felt left the reader without much closure, which is important in a book about such a heinous case. I also would have liked to learn more about what Lori and Chad’s cult believed and what led the pair to decide to have Tylee and JJ killed. Both of these are sometimes mentioned, but not discussed in any depth which I found odd considering the level of detail in the rest of the book. Finally, I would have liked to learn more about Tylee and JJ – but then I prefer more victim-centered true crime than is the norm in the genre.
I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by Shaun Grindell. I thought his narration was decent but without much intonation, which may in part be due to the genre which calls for less performance than fiction. I didn’t have much of an opinion one way or another about his narration.
Overall, I recommend this book for those trying to learn more about this bizarre and heartrending case.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. This is my honest and voluntary review.