Genres: Non-Fiction, True Crime
Savage Appetites tells the true story of four women in the four archetypes of every true crime story: the detective, the victim, the attorney, the killer. It explores the morbid fascination of people (especially women) with the true crime genre and the obsession of violence towards women.
When I saw the words “true crime” and “stories of women” and realized Rachel Monroe was going to tell stories of women in true crime where they aren’t only the white, thin and pretty dead girl, I was immediately drawn to it. This was a quick read – I read it in two sittings and only because I had to put it down the first time.
I think the biggest triumph of the book is making you think about your own interest in these crimes: why do we read so much true crime? Why do women love reading it? Why are crimes against women over-represented in media, making us feel as if it’s much more common than the murder of young men? The author touches a lot on these topics and then it’s forgotten when we get to the actual stories, where we observe and judge each person’s life story. I wish she had expanded a bit more on the why people are fascinated by true crime – a lot of times it felt to me like it was her own opinion or experience instead of a general and scientific approach. I’d love to see actual studies about women, crime, the perception of crime against women etc. and get insight on the psychological reasons why we do what we do.
Otherwise, the stories were really, really interesting. Each of these women had interesting, frustrating, unique lives and personalities and struggled so much to make themselves heard. It was also interesting to see how easy it is to assume things, like who is the killer, and get it completely wrong. How biased we are. [Mild spoiler ahead (if true crime counts as spoiler)] I felt a bit cheated that the Killer character… didnt’ actually kill anyone. [end of spoiler]
I felt a bit voyeuristic reading these stories, honestly, especially when sometimes it felt more gruesome or gossip-y than necessary. But I think that is the kind of thing that will make people find this book very readable and interesting! I also wish there had been pictures, maps and so on – I was googling a lot while reading.