• By Amelia Poovey
  • Posted Monday, November 1, 2021

A True Crime Book Club

“Latent Prints: A True Crime Book Club” will meet every fourth Monday at 12 noon. The next meeting is November 22. Members are encouraged to join with their lunch as we discuss our latest read or topic of interest. With the occasional guest speaker join in as we explore the darker side of humanity. Email Librarian Amelia Poovey at pooveyac@forsyth.cc to register and for more information.

We'll be meeting virtually using Zoom. You will be emailed a link and password to attend the Zoom meeting after you register. If you do not have a webcam or microphone, you may still attend.


This Month


November

  • Meeting: Nov. 22 at 12 noon

"American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land" by Monica Hesse

What it's about: The arsons started on a cold November midnight and didn’t stop for months. Night after night, the people of Accomack County waited to see which building would burn down next, regarding each other at first with compassion, and later suspicion. Vigilante groups sprang up, patrolling the rural Virginia coast with cameras and camouflage. Volunteer firefighters slept at their stations. The arsonist seemed to target abandoned buildings, but local police were stretched too thin to surveil them all. Accomack was desolate, there were hundreds of abandoned buildings. And by the dozen, they were burning.

“One of the year’s best and most unusual true-crime books” (Christian Science Monitor), American Fire brings to vivid life the reeling county of Accomack. “Ace reporter” (Entertainment Weekly) Monica Hesse spent years investigating the story, emerging with breathtaking portraits of the arsonists troubled addict Charlie Smith and his girlfriend, Tonya Bundick. Tracing the shift in their relationship from true love to crime spree, Hesse also conjures the once-thriving coastal community, decimated by a punishing economy and increasingly suspicious of their neighbors as the culprits remained at large. Weaving the story into the history of arson in the United States, the critically acclaimed American Fire re-creates the anguished nights this quiet county lit up in flames, evoking a microcosm of rural America a land half-gutted before the fires began.


Next Month


December

  • Meeting: Dec. 20 at 12 noon

"The Lazarus Files: A Cold Case Investigation" by Matthew McGough

What it's about: On February 24, 1986, 29-year-old newlywed Sherri Rasmussen was murdered in the home she shared with her husband, John. The crime scene suggested a ferocious struggle, and police initially assumed it was a burglary gone awry. Before her death, Sherri had confided to her parents that an ex-girlfriend of John’s, a Los Angeles police officer, had threatened her. The Rasmussens urged the LAPD to investigate the ex-girlfriend, but the original detectives only pursued burglary suspects, and the case went cold.

DNA analysis did not exist when Sherri was murdered. Decades later, a swab from a bite mark on Sherri’s arm revealed her killer was in fact female, not male. A DNA match led to the arrest and conviction of veteran LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus, John’s onetime girlfriend.

The Lazarus Files delivers the visceral experience of being inside a real-life murder mystery. McGough reconstructs the lives of Sherri, John and Stephanie; the love triangle that led to Sherri’s murder; and the homicide investigation that followed. Was Stephanie protected by her fellow officers? What did the LAPD know, and when did they know it? Are there other LAPD cold cases with a police connection that remain unsolved?

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