BLACK CHRISTMAS by Thomas Altman

PUBLISHER: Bantam, 12/1983
GENRE: Fiction/Contemporary Horror
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: Christmas in Murdock. A time of cozy safety, snowy sidewalks, and carolling children. But this holiday season someone is bating Sheriff Dunsmore in a bizarre and deadly game. Someone is stalking the young women he knows and loves...seducing them with icy steel...leaving them for him to find - far too late. It's the night before Christmas. The frightened town edges toward panic. And Dunsmore is about to receive the most terrifying gift of all.








MY THOUGHTS: I should state that this novel has nothing to do with the 1974 film Black Christmas (though that was novelized in 1976 by Lee Hays).

This was fairly boring. Three young women from the same town are murdered at different times within a short period of time in the days leading up to Christmas, and a fourth was almost killed. It wasn't until shortly before the killer was revealed that I'd guessed who they were.

There were the usual suspects- ex-husband, odd boy in town, ect., neither of which turn out to be the killer. I don't understand the significance of the number thirteen; each victim was stabbed thirteen times. The reason for killing two of the three doesn't make any sense and it wasn't explained why the killer had those two on their radar anyway. The ending is odd too, somewhat happy, and I'm not at all satisfied with it. The novel needed to be slightly longer so we could have gotten some answers as to what the killer was thinking.

This wasn't suspenseful enough and it wasn't good enough to recommend.


SWEET HELL ON FIRE by Sara Lunsford



PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks, 11/2012
GENRE: Nonfiction/Memoir/Prison
AUTHOR TWITTER: link
MY GRADE: A

FROM PUBLISHER: As a corrections officer at an all-male maximum security prison, Sara Lunsford worked with the worst of the worst, from serial killers to white supremacists. She knew that at the end of every day, she had to try and shed the memories of the horrors she had witnessed in order to live a happy existence. But the darkness invaded every part of her life. And dealing with a stressful divorce and a mother sucumbing to cancer led her to a complete immersion in her work and eventually the bottom of a liquor bottle. Sweet Hell on Fire takes the reader on a journey with the author, from hitting rock bottom to becoming a woman who understands the meaning of sacrifice, the joy of redemption and the quiet haven to be found in hope.


MY THOUGHTS: I've been interested in nonfiction, specifically true crime, since the mid-1990s and jumped at the chance to review this. I like reading and watching shows about the darker side of life. I thought it would be real interesting to read about working in the prison system from a woman's point of view.

The book was everything I thought it would be- disturbing and disgusting. Did I mention the cup of semen Sara found in an inmate's cell? The author's narrative is raunchy and unfiltered and is a bit much at times. I'm not offended but some of her language made me cringe. If you're bothered by foul language, you'll want to skip this. Her calling herself 'fat' was way too repetitive, as was her constantly telling us how tough she was. We get it- you're 6' tall, 'fat' and tougher than any man you've ever come across. Move on to something else. I'm interested in knowing if she'd like to find her birth parents and how old she is.

This was a very entertaining read and I do recommend it to those interested in prison life.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.