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Not Comin' Home to You
By Lawrence Block

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Not Comin' Home to You

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Not Comin' Home to You
By Lawrence Block
Wheeler Publishing - Large Print Edition (2005)
ISBN: 1-59722-058-2

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - November 14, 2005

Not Comin' Home to You is not the typical, humor tinted mystery that I've come to expect from Lawrence Block. Rather, this is a fictionalized account of the Starkweather Murders, which also inspired several films, including Badlands and Natural Born Killers.

In the late 1950's, Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate went on a killing spree, randomly, and brutally, killing more than ten people in Nebraska and Wyoming, including Caril's mother and infant half-sister. Despite their youth, nineteen-year-old Starkweather and fourteen-year-old Fugate seemed to be without remorse as they boldly killed anyone who crossed their paths. They were captured about ten days after their spree commenced. Both were tried as adults and found guilty of murder. Starkweather got the electric chair, and Fugate, due to her age, was sentenced to life in prison. She was eventually released on parole.

In Not Comin' Home to You, Block has renamed the killers Jimmie John Hall and Betty Dienhardt, and moved the crime spree to the Southwest, but otherwise his fictionalized account parallels events of the Starkweather Murders from how the spree began to the capture of the fugitives. This book was first published in 1974, under one of Block's pen names; Paul Kavanagh. The story is told in large measure via flash backs with Block writing as a journalist, trying to tell both the facts and the underlaying factors that drew these two Jimmie and Betty to each other, and the factors that lead them to commence their killing spree.

Not Comin' Home to You is an shocking and intriguing book. It has some strong language and situations that make the book unsuited for all readers. It is also a book that may disappoint readers who are expecting a typical Block book. Block wrote this book under a pseudonym for a reason. I would think that one of his reasons was that he wanted to distance this book from his typical fiction because it is so different, content wise, from what readers expect when they see a book with Block listed as the author. With that in mind, this is a well written book with a gripping story that will fascinate readers who like to read stories based on real life murder cases or who are intrigued by questions like, "What makes a serial killer tick?"

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