I return to book reviews after getting sidetracked by leaving my job and starting my non-degree classes in preparation for applying to grad schools at the end of the year. Suffice to say that was pretty distracting but I have continued to read so am going to try to work through my review backlog!
In Plain Sight was a straight forward true crime novel that I picked up randomly at Barnes & Noble. I knew a bit about this case but was interested to know the back story behind these awful murders. I read this while getting the first third of a big tattoo and it was sufficiently distracting to keep my interest for four and a half hours. Despite the pull quote on the cover from Ann Rule calling Kathryn Casey “one of the best true crime writers today,” I found this book to be pretty run of the mill and overly long, although I respect the amount of work and research that went into it, and it’s a very clear overview of the case. It just probably doesn’t need to be 477 pages long. The bit in the middle where the investigation was happening made me feel like I was really living through it, it seemed to take up 200 pages. As the reader you know who the killer is, so I think she could have cut 1-200 pages out of this book and it would have been zippier. I also didn’t appreciate the weird focus on the fact he played Dungeons & Dragons as some sort of indication something was wrong with him, which felt really random and offensive. She even uses a quote from one of the prosecutors about D&D as a chapter header in what seemed like it was supposed to make you think playing D&D makes you a murderer, which is just really stupid (“…I realized that I’d prosecuted two other murder cases where the killers played Dungeons and Dragons. It was eerie.”). Lots of people play D&D so it is not shocking that this prosecutor knows three killers who played it, that’s just a random coincidence. Correlation is not causation!
I also wished we’d had more psychological insight into Eric Williams, as she has lots of quotes from people saying something is wrong with him and that he has a very flat emotional affect, but there never seemed to be any actual psychological examination of him once he was arrested. I’m personally really interested in psychology, so maybe that was just a personal wish, but it just seemed like there was a missing piece into what motivated him beyond just intense rage and a desire for revenge.
Overall, the book does a great job of making the victims come to life and trying to center them and the devastating loss that their murders caused. I always appreciate a book that focuses as much if not more on the victims than the killer, and I think Casey did pretty well at that here. I also liked the use of photos throughout instead of a photo section. I wouldn’t read this again and I probably wouldn’t recommend it unless you are interested in this case, but it was exactly what I wanted.