I recently finished a book called The Dark Gray Blanket by Howard Burns. This book is a fictional account of a real-life investigation of a serial killer in the Detroit area. It was a pretty fascinating read in the fact the author actually lived through this and turned it into something that can be shared with the world but also bring awareness to the incident.
Backstory: In the harsh Detroit winters of 1976 and 1977, four children were kidnapped and brutally murdered. This infamous serial killer has been dubbed the “Babysitter Killer” from the way they carefully cleaned, dressed and cared for the victims’ bodies before placing them in plain sight to be found. The murders still remain unsolved to this day.
Author H. Burns was living and working in the peaceful Detroit suburbs during the time of the murders with his wife and two daughters, who were the exact same age as the victims. With the last victim found less than three miles from their little suburban home, the story of the Babysitter Killer and Burns time right in the middle of all the action has haunted him to this day and would become the basis behind his novel, The Dark Gray Blanket.
Synopsis: The Dark Gray Blanket is a fictional account of an over the hill detective, Frank Pellegrini, and his strange obsession in the pursuit of the Babysitter Killer. During the snow-swept dark Michigan months, Frank, a brash and washed up yet lovable cop, makes plundering attempts at solving these mystifying crimes. The unique blend of fact and fiction weaves a captivating mystery set in a Detroit of days gone by and culminates in a killer that will surprise just about everyone.
Overall, I rather enjoyed this book. I liked Frank as a character with his constant pursuit of justice and that he always went with his gut feeling and trusted his instincts. I felt that the story was a little weak in the second chapter because it was basically just a history lesson about Detroit and not much storyline (if you like history, then you would really enjoy this chapter). But as soon as I got past the second chapter, I was in it till the end, adventuring along with Frank in his pursuit of the serial killer and solving the crimes! And the constant thought in the back of your head on why Frank chooses to take on the cases of children being murdered….what happened to him that makes him want/need to solve these cases and how does he do it while keeping his emotions in check?
I will not spoil anything because I think if you are interested, you should pick up this book! Howard Burns is a very generous person so, in remembrance of the victims, a donation in their name from the proceeds of The Dark Gray Blanket will be made to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Book Rating: 4/5
Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free by Smith Publishing to read and review. The copy for the backstory and synopsis was provided by Smith Publishing, everything else is my own writing.
You can find the book on Amazon:
What inspired you to write The Dark Gray Blanket?
Burns: I and my family lived in Northville Michigan during these horrific events. Our daughters were the exact age of the victims, 10 and 12. The last victim was found less than 3 miles from our home (skateboard sticking out of the snow). Due to me and my wife working, our daughters had to walk one mile to school by themselves. 1/4 mile through a wooded area. We had to drill into their minds “if someone approaches you, even if it is your grandmother, your teacher, a neighbor, a policeman, a fireman, someone looking for a lost puppy, just run to the closest home, bang on the door and scream for help.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Burns: Never aspired to be a writer – just wanted to tell the story and if possible assist the foundation that searches for missing children.
What do you hope readers will take away from your novel?
Burns: The treasure of a child and the importance of protecting them.
When you are not writing, what do you do for fun?