Book Review: The Dark Gray Blanket by Howard Burns

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:

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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?

Burns: Movies, concerts, fishing, hunting (for food, venison, elk, pheasant), dining out, and travel vacations on bus or train enjoying all the beauty and intrigue our wonderful country has to offer. But most of all, spending my life with the woman of my dreams! Just sitting on our deck, looking out over the lake and sipping a cup of tea is one of God’s greatest gifts.

 


And there you have it. Another great book to peek your interest. Talk to you soon bookworms.

Book Review – I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

I recently finished I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid and man oh man was it ever intense! I was sent this book by Simon and Schuster Canada for winning their Book Club Pick of the Month contest. Now this happened in the summer and I had a huge list of books to go through but I am finally getting to it.

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I read this book on a flight to the great northern city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada over the Christmas break to visit my friend Jordan. I had my nose in this book from takeoff to landing on the flight home and was completely engrossed in the intricate web of a masterpiece Iain Reid created.

The story starts with a woman in a car with her boyfriend and they are travelling to his parents house so that she can meet them for the first time. Meanwhile, she is thinking of ending the relationship and a lot of the book is her constant struggle in her head about what to do in this situation since she no longer wants to be in the relationship. They get to the farm and she meets his parents but things seem to be out of place and she starts to notice a lot of things that are “off”. Thus ensues a crazy twisted nightmare of a story that I never expected in the least.

I will be spoiling the ending because holy crap it was crazy. But I will clearly define where the spoiler is so don’t worry. Before that though, I wanted to share the best quote from the book.

You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.

This line is so haunting once you know what the ending is. Alright without further ado, spoiler time…

*SPOILER INSERTED HERE, DON’T READ FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO READ THIS BOOK*

So it turned out that this woman was one of multiple personalities inside the boyfriend’s head and she was never real the entire time. When she is thinking of ending it, she is meaning ending his life. After you come to this realization, the entire book becomes so much creepier.

I also never caught it till after but the author just says “a woman” instead of giving the main character a name because she is the one telling the story. It made so much sense at the end but it was a very intense plot twist.

*SPOILER ENDED*

If you wish to read this book, you can find it here: http://www.simonandschuster.ca/books/Im-Thinking-of-Ending-Things/Iain-Reid/9781501103452

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review in any way. I chose to write it because I wanted to.

 

 

 

Lazy Sunday

It’s another lazy Sunday and I am starting a new book. It is my first NetGalley book called The Dark Grey Blanket by H. Burns. Thank you to Kathy @ Books and Munches for showing me what NetGalley is and getting me hooked on a new way to read books before they are released.

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 Synopsis: 

The winters of ’76 and ’77 in the greater Detroit and Oakland County area of Michigan were extremely harsh, with record snowfall, brutal temperatures, and incessant howling winds. During these winters, a deranged serial killer preyed upon preteen and early teen victims, both male and female. As snow would begin to fall, the killer would hunt and abduct them, keep them at a secluded location, bathe them, meticulously groom them, feed them their favorite meal, and then wait for the next snowstorm. Under the cover of the next snowfall, the killer would hide their corpses in snowbanks on secondary roads, where they would be found by passing motorists.

This story is a fictional account of an over-the-hill detective, Frank Pellegrini, and his strange obsession in the pursuit of that killer.

I am pretty excited to start reading this one. Stay tuned for the review coming up 😛 If you want to read this too, you can find it on his website https://www.thedarkgrayblanket.com or click below to see it on Amazon:

What book had the most surprising plot twist ending?

Finally I am back at writing for the blog. This week has been hectic and busy but I am glad to get back to something I love doing. Anyways, this question was very easy for me and a certain book popped into my head immediately. If you have not read Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson, then you better get on it. The ending was crazy and so unexpected. If you are going to read it, then avoid the section called spoiler below.

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Synopsis: A terrible accident has robbed Christine of her memories. She cannot remember the past – or even yesterday. Determined to discover who she is, she has begun keeping a journal before she goes to sleep. Before she can forget again.

But the truth may be more terrifying – and deadlier – than she bargained for…

This book was very intense. The main character is constantly struggling with herself and trying to remember who she is and was before her accident. Her husband goes through a lot trying to help her remember and become the person she used to be.

SPOILER

The crazy twist is that the man she believes is her husband since the start of the book is actually the man who caused her accident and is the reason she can’t remember – he is also not her husband (her husband is real and comes into play eventually). She also has a child that this man makes her believe died when she was in the accident.

SPOILER ENDED

I really recommend this one because I could not put it down without knowing what happens to the main character and how they get out of their situation. Let me know what book had a crazy plot twist for you int he comments.


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