book reviews, true crime

Repost: Kathryn Casey’s Deliver Us…

And here’s one more repost of a review I originally posted in April 2015, Kathryn Casey’s Deliver Us.

For the past several weeks, I have been trying to read Kathryn Casey’s 2015 book, Deliver Us: Three Decades of Murder and Redemption in the Infamous I-45/Texas Killing Fields.  I used to be able to rip through books in a matter of days, but I think I’ve gotten too attached to Facebook games, beer, and wine.  I get distracted and my reading habit suffers. 

Since Epinions is no longer around to give me a sense of urgency, I put off getting through books, even when they are especially interesting.  As it stands right now, I have several books waiting to be read, some of which are actual books and not on the Kindle.  Anyway, I finally finished the Kindle version of Ms. Casey’s latest this book this morning.  This will no doubt excite one of my Epinions friends now turned one of my Facebook friends.  He actually knows Kathryn Casey.  

Deliver Us is a book about more than twenty women and girls who were mysteriously murdered on a fifty mile stretch of highway.  These murders took place over a span of three decades and were within the journey from Houston to Galveston, Texas.  Rather than focus on one murder case, Kathryn Casey has researched and written about the large number of victims and put it into one impressive and well-written volume.  Some of the stories are fascinating.  All are heartbreaking, as the victims were uniformly young and beautiful and much loved by friends and family.

While I usually like to read true crime books that focus on just a single case, I do think Deliver Us works well in its multi-faceted approach.  However, the fact that this was about so many different cases may be the main reason why it took so long to finish the book.  I would read a chapter dedicated to a victim, then put the Kindle down to sleep.  Since each chapter pretty much covers a case, I wasn’t left wanting to know what would come next.  It was easy to put off my reading.

I would have thought this book would have been about a single killer, but in fact, there were several criminals hunting in the “Texas Killing Fields”.  While it’s not always pleasant to read about the unsavory people who stalk and kill others, I have to admit that Casey does a great job outlining the cases.  In one chapter, she writes of a man who killed a teenager in Texas.  The murder went unsolved for a long time before the killer got arrested in Louisiana on a felony charge.  In Texas, DNA samples are only collected in cases of sexual assault or murder, but in Louisiana, they are collected from anyone accused of a felony.  The killer’s DNA was collected and he was finally linked to the Texas murder.  The young woman’s family finally saw him brought to justice and got some closure.

In another heartbreaking story, she writes of a young girl who lost her mother to breast cancer when she was just a toddler.  The girl was adopted by her father’s second wife and was enjoying an idyllic upbringing in a rural area near Houston.  She was well on her way to becoming a ballerina when one night, just a couple of days before her thirteenth birthday, she decided to go for a jog.  The land near her formerly rural home was being developed as many people were moving to Texas for work.  Lots of strangers were in the neighborhood, doing construction on the new homes.  That fact would lead to the girl’s tragically early demise.  Having just left San Antonio last year, I could easily imagine the housing developments Casey wrote of.  I have seen (and lived in) them myself.  At the same time, how sad that this family was so tragically affected by progress.  Would the girl still be alive if the area had stayed rural?  Maybe.

I liked Deliver Us for all the usual reasons I enjoy Kathryn Casey’s books.  She’s very good at conveying the human side of stories.  It’s that human side that gets people to read true crime; when it’s missing, all you have is a gory story about someone meeting an unfortunate end. 

Having recently lived in Texas and driven through Houston and the surrounding areas, I could easily picture the landscape Casey writes of.  I think that was another reason Deliver Us was appealing to me.  That, and I like the fact that Casey keeps a conversational tone.  I feel like she’s actually communicating with me through her writing, even though we don’t know each other.  Maybe I feel that way because I have read most of Casey’s other books.  At one point, she mentions another book she wrote about serial rapist, James Bergstrom.  I read that book in 1994, when it was first published as The Rapist’s Wife.  It has since been re-published under the title Evil Beside Her.  Casey mentions that case because James Bergstrom was able to get away with rape for many years due to his ability to switch jurisdictions and fly under the radar.  Nowadays, it’s not as easy to do that.    

I always make a point of reading Kathryn Casey’s excellent true crime books.  I think of her as the Ann Rule of Texas.  Most of her books highlight murder cases that happen in Texas, specifically Houston.  They are always well-researched and respectful to the victims.  Some readers may find Deliver Us to be harder to get into because of the volume of cases covered.  There is less detail provided to each story because there are so many of them.  On the other hand, some people may like that there are many stories in one book.  It does make finding a stopping point easier.     

I would recommend Deliver Us to true crime lovers.  Just remember that this is not one person’s story.  It’s many stories that come from a common area in Texas.  And now that I’ve read this book, if I ever drive along I-45 in Texas, I will be extra careful not to break down!

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