Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business – Anja Shortland
Kidnap for ransom is a lucrative but tricky business. Millions of people live, travel, and work in areas with significant kidnap risks, yet kidnaps of foreign workers, local VIPs, and tourists are surprisingly rare and the vast majority of abductions are peacefully resolved – often for remarkably low ransoms. In fact, the market for hostages is so well ordered that the crime is insurable. This is a puzzle: ransoming a hostage is the world’s most precarious trade. What would be the right price for your loved one – and can you avoid putting others at risk by paying it? What prevents criminals from maltreating hostages? How do you (safely) pay a ransom? And why would kidnappers release a potential future witness after receiving their money?
Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business uncovers how a group of insurers at Lloyd’s of London have solved these thorny problems for their customers. Based on interviews with industry insiders (from both sides), as well as hostage stakeholders, it uncovers an intricate and powerful private governance system ordering transactions between the legal and the criminal economies.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt
Shots rang out in Savannah’s grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares.
John Berendt’s sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.
It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman’s Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the “soul of pampered self-absorption”; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else.
The Foundling – Paul Joseph Fronczak and Alex Tresniowski
The Foundling tells the incredible and inspiring true story of Paul Fronczak, a man who recently discovered via a DNA test that he was not who he thought he was—and set out to solve two fifty-year-old mysteries at once. Along the way he upturned the genealogy industry, unearthed his family’s deepest secrets, and broke open the second longest cold-case in US history, all in a desperate bid to find out who he really is.
In 1964, a woman pretending to be a nurse kidnapped an infant boy named Paul Fronczak from a Chicago hospital.
Two years later, police found a boy abandoned outside a variety store in New Jersey. The FBI tracked down Dora Fronczak, the kidnapped infant’s mother, and she identified the abandoned boy as her son. The family spent the next fifty years believing they were whole again—but Paul was always unsure about his true identity.
Then, five years ago—spurred on by the birth of his first child, Emma Faith—Paul took a DNA test. The test revealed definitively that he was not Paul Fronczak. From that moment on, Paul has been on a tireless mission to find the man whose life he’s been living—and to discover who abandoned him, and why.
This is the story of Paul’s heart-wrenching and tortuous journey to solve both mysteries and finally learn the truth about his identity.
Traces: The memoir of a forensic scientist and criminal investigator – Patricia Wiltshire
Professor Patricia Wiltshire will take you on a journey through the fascinating edgeland where nature and crime are intertwined. She’ll take you searching for bodies of loved ones – through woodlands, along hedgerows, field-edges, and through plantations – solving time since death, and disposal of remains, from ditches to living rooms. She will give you glimpses of her own history: her loves, her losses, and the narrow little valley in Wales where she first woke up to the wonders of the natural world. Pat will show you how her work with a microscope reveals tell-tale traces of the world around us, and how these have taken suspects of the darkest criminal activities to court.
From flowers, fungi, tree trunks to car pedals, walking boots, carpets, and corpses’ hair, Traces is a unique book on life, death, and one’s indelible link with nature.
Corrupt Bodies: Death and Dirty Dealing in a London Morgue – Peter Everett, Kris Hollington
In 1985, Peter Everett landed the job as Superintendent of Southwark Mortuary. In just six years he’d gone from lowly assistant to running the UK’s busiest murder morgue. He couldn’t believe his luck.
What he didn’t know was that Southwark, operating in near-Victorian conditions, was a hotbed of corruption. Attendants stole from the dead, funeral homes paid bribes, and there was a lively trade in stolen body parts and recycled coffins.
Set in the fascinating pre-DNA and psychological profiling years of 1985-87, this memoir tells a gripping and gruesome tale, with a unique insight into a world of death most of us don’t ever see. Peter managed pathologists, oversaw post-mortems and worked alongside Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad – including the case of the serial killer, the Stockwell Strangler.
This is a thrilling tale of murder and corruption in the mid-1980s, told with insight and compassion.