The Kill Jar: Obsession, Descent, and a Hunt for Detroit’s Most Notorious Killer by J. Reuben Appelman
Published: August 14, 2018
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genres: true crime, non fiction, mystery
Rating: 2 stars
Recommend to fans of: dark twisted minds, unsolved crimes
Foodie Vibes: greasy diner food
Enthralling. Gripping. Cinematic. Raw. A cold case murder investigation paced like a podcast, as visually stunning as a film, and as brave and personal as our darkest memoirs. J. Reuben Appelman cracks open one of America’s most notorious murder sprees while simultaneously banging the gavel on his own history with violence. A deftly-crafted true crime story with grit, set amid the decaying sprawl of Detroit and its outliers.
With a foreword by Catherine Broad, sister of victim Timothy King.
Four children were abducted and murdered outside of Detroit during the winters of 1976 and 1977, their bodies eventually dumped in snow banks around the city. J. Reuben Appelman was six years old at the time the murders began and had evaded an abduction attempt during that same period, fueling a lifelong obsession with what became known as the Oakland County Child Killings.
Autopsies showed the victims to have been fed while in captivity, reportedly held with care. And yet, with equal care, their bodies had allegedly been groomed post-mortem, scrubbed-free of evidence that might link to a killer. There were few credible leads, and equally few credible suspects. That’s what the cops had passed down to the press, and that’s what the city of Detroit, and J. Reuben Appelman, had come to believe.
When the abductions mysteriously stopped, a task force operating on one of the largest manhunt budgets in history shut down without an arrest. Although no more murders occurred, Detroit and its environs remained haunted. The killer had, presumably, not been caught.
Eerily overlaid upon the author’s own decades-old history with violence, The Kill Jar tells the gripping story of J. Reuben Appelman’s ten-year investigation into buried leads, apparent police cover-ups of evidence, con-men, child pornography rings, and high-level corruption saturating Detroit’s most notorious serial killer case.
I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Gallery Books, and J. Reuben Appelman for the book to review. As always, an honest review from me.
I’m a big fan of true crime books, but this one missed the mark for me. The entire book emirates terror and disturbing thoughts. It gave me the heebie jeebies while reading and left me feeling very unsettled for hours after. The weird disturbing vibes are not my thing.
While the author’s search to find the true killer of these unsolved crimes is noble, the writing comes across as a little too obsessed. Maybe you have to be to search out serial killers and pedophiles? Still, it’s good that someone’s investigating these crimes and holding people accountable.
Also, the bits about his personal life didn’t really need to be included, in my opinion. There were raw, authentic, and insightful. It felt more like a therapy session than cohesive thoughts to tie the rest of the story together.
Overall, The Kill Jar was not the true crime book for me. Way too disturbing and focused on the horrific details of too many predators. It’s not a bad book, but definitely not a good fit for me.
How do you shake off unsettling feeling from a book?