OK, True Crime IS my guilty pleasure genre. And I am particularly fascinated by stories of “justice gone wrong,” and am a strong advocate for fairness in the justice system and a believer in the need for judicial reform. So, the whole phenomenon around Steven Avery and the Netflix series “Making a Murderer” would seem to be right up my alley. After all, I was obsessed worth Serial, so a story about a wrongful conviction should be my thing, right?
But here is the thing: it’s easy to advocate for justice for an intelligent, articulate young man (Serial’s Adnan Syed). It’s a lot harder when the accused murderer is a man like Steven Avery: a crude, uneducated man whose family business is an auto salvage yard where he lives in a trailer among rusted out wrecked cars and indulges himself fathering children, harassing people, and torturing animals. Truly.
Some years ago, Avery was accused and convicted of raping a woman, and sent to prison where he stayed until the case was overturned, as his innocence was proven. Just when his case against the County was moving toward what looked like a huge cash award for wrongful imprisonment, he was accused of murdering a young female photographer who came to the salvage yard to take photos for Auto Trader.
Making a Murderer presented a compelling argument for what looked like at best inept police work and at worst a totally corrupt judicial system that went after him because his case for the prior improper conviction was about to bankrupt the County. He settled for $400,000, which he used for his defense in the murder trial.
I admit, I couldn’t watch all of Making a Murderer. They actually lost me fairly early on with the animal torture, and while I thought there had likely been some significant errors in the prosecution of the case (especially the way Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey was used), I wasn’t convinced he was innocent.
This book, written by the prosecutor, reinforced my opinion that Avery is a disgusting creep. It also gave me a TON of facts that were not part of Making a Murderer. It’s well written, and Kratz is open with his own story and the mistakes he made along the way (unrelated to Avery’s case). Anyone who watched the series and thinks Avery is innocent should really read this book, and it would be a good choice for true crime fans, especially if they can handle reading about a disgusting man.
Really, if I hadn’t committed to review it, I might not have finished it. I knew the status of the legal case, and I felt like I didn’t care if he had been wrongly convicted. Saying that goes against my personal beliefs, and I do think there are huge problems with our system of “justice” – but this man should be locked away forever, IMHO.
Four stars. I still hate Avery, and am not a big fan of Kratz, but the book is well done.