Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Fractured Life of 3743 and The Killer of Little Shepherds

The Fractured Life of 3743 – Rob Cabitto 
Publisher:  Beaver”s Pond Press
Pages:  248
Source:  Received a copy from publisher
Genre:  Adult, Memoir

From Goodreads:
The Life of 3743 is a journey, beginning with tragedy, addiction and culminating in redemption born out of desperation.
Rob Cabitto's story of his fractured life being redeemed is a powerful and cautionary tale of how a life can go horribly wrong. When Rob was five, he was put up for adoption because of the severe addictions of his parents.
As is often the case, these early hardships helped to make the man who he is today. Rob tells what it was like to live untethered to any spiritual, tribal or social belief system--and the consequences associated with an amoral lifestyle. He describes exactly what it was like to be homeless, penniless and jobless, with nowhere to go but down. However, what he believed to be his bottom was only a temporary stopping point. He had yet to fall further, and for many years, lived in the abyss of a life without meaning or direction.
This story is about overcoming immense obsta­cles as a child, the bad choices he made as a young adult and into adulthood, and the resilience of the human spirit. The Fractured Life Redeemed is insightful, captivating and has a universal message for all those who have been hopeless or lost--and that message is hope...

My Thoughts:
This book is one that will stick with the reader for a long time.  It is an honest look at one man’s life, the choices he made, and how those choices affected him.  The pictures in the book help bring you into his life.  Had he left the pictures out, his writing is so descriptive that you would still be able to picture the rollercoaster he called his life.  I am not sure, had I lived his life that I would have had the courage to tell the story.  I look at things in my past and read books and say, “Yeah, I understand because that happened to me.”  Yet, I have no courage to reach out and tell the story that may help others.  The reading of this book takes you on an emotional rollercoaster ride.  You look at what he had done the accomplishments and are so proud of what he’s done then the next moment you are in the valley with him.  I know this is an adult book yet I deal with teens every day.  I am tired of hearing their excuses. “But Miss, you don’t understand…I live in a single parent home…we got no money….my daddy’s on drugs…that’s why I’m in a gang so I can get some respect…”  We’ve all heard the sob stories.  The idea is to not let those stories be our entire life.  Seeing how far Rob Cabitto had to come to be the success he is, takes away all excuses.  There were QR codes throughout the book. I was able to utilize the ones at the front for Facebook and Twitter but the ones throughout the book would not open for me.  That has not stopped me.  I plan on taking the book to school with me and utilizing the phone of one of my fellow teachers to see what I have missed, then loaning the book to them.  I believe this should be read by anyone who has faced any challenges and just don’t feel they can pull themselves out.  With enough help, determination and effort I believe anyone can.

The Killer of Little Shepherds:  A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science – Douglas Starr
Publisher:  Knopf
Pages:  320
Source:  Received a copy from publisher in exchange for review
Genre:  Adult,  True Crime Story

From Goodreads:
A riveting true crime story that vividly recounts the birth of modern forensics.
At the end of the nineteenth century, serial murderer Joseph Vacher, known and feared as “The Killer of Little Shepherds,” terrorized the French countryside. He eluded authorities for years—until he ran up against prosecutor Emile Fourquet and Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, the era’s most renowned criminologist. The two men—intelligent and bold—typified the Belle Époque, a period of immense scientific achievement and fascination with science’s promise to reveal the secrets of the human condition.

With high drama and stunning detail, Douglas Starr revisits Vacher’s infamous crime wave, interweaving the story of how Lacassagne and his colleagues were developing forensic science as we know it. We see one of the earliest uses of criminal profiling, as Fourquet painstakingly collects eyewitness accounts and constructs a map of Vacher’s crimes. We follow the tense and exciting events leading to the murderer’s arrest. And we witness the twists and turns of the trial, celebrated in its day. In an attempt to disprove Vacher’s defense by reason of insanity, Fourquet recruits Lacassagne, who in the previous decades had revolutionized criminal science by refining the use of blood-spatter evidence, systematizing the autopsy, and doing groundbreaking research in psychology. Lacassagne’s efforts lead to a gripping courtroom denouement.

The Killer of Little Shepherds is an important contribution to the history of criminal justice, impressively researched and thrillingly told.

My Thoughts:
It is sad to think that we know more about Jack the Ripper, except who he really was than we do about a man named Joseph Vacher.   Both of these murderers lived and killed around the same time and yet, until I read this book I had not heard of him.  Not only do we learn that this man started killing because he was rejected by a woman, but we learn that those involved in his capture were the ones who began using forensics.

Dr. Alexandre LaCassagne wa the professor at the university of Lyon.  It was under his tutelege that many scientists studied things like fibers and hair, blood types, even spatter patterns of blood.  Up until this point many people were institutionalized as insane.  The reasoning was they must have been insane to kill so many people.  Forensics brought into light patterns and the use of science to catch and keep criminals and allow them to be punished justifiably.  France had an influx of people who lost their jobs or livelihoods to the Industrial revolution.  Often it was these men who committed crimes, but as transients were not caught.  LaCassagne was able to take a scientific look at crime scenes and suspects and provide answers.  Rural areas often lacked more educated doctors and police.  It was kind of like, “having something was better than nothing”.  That is another reason so many went so long before being caught.

It was fascinating to learn that during that time period if you were wealthy and ticked off  the poor you could be accused of a crime you were totally innocent of and be executed.  The opposite was true for the poor as well who could not afford to defend themselves.  I kept thinking, Thank goodness we have forensic science now.  Yet I realize it has not been that long ago before DNA testing that innocent people were accused of crimes they were not guilty of because science had not develop enough to prove them innocent.

Although this book is graphic, for people like me who love all things forensics this is a must read.  It is truly one of the best books on the subject I have ever read.  It is one I will most definitely recommend to those like me who enjoy true crime stories.


  1. These two books sound like great reads, Sandra. Thank you for that. I'll check them out.

  2. added Killer of Little Shepherds to my wishlist at amazon, with a note of why since it's not my usual cup of tea

  3. I have always said it is my desire to view an autopsy one day. I worked at a charter school where those students doing dual enrollment with the local college were given an opportunity. I left before I had an opportunity to join them I'm not morbid. I was actually accepted into the nursing field before I became a teacher. I learned ver quickly I could not take care of a patient in a nursing home and then cope with them dying. I am still fascinated by the workings of he body. I've read many forensic books and I love it.