The First 3 Reviews for TWO FACE ANNIHILATION

The last two books of the series of 7 [as it stands now] were extremely difficult to research and write. Book 7 was probably the most difficult of all. This is because one is relying entirely on the audio as the primary source for the information.

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On the one hand, it’s excellent material because what we are listening to is exactly what the three members of law enforcement heard, plus minus some white noise here and there. There’s also a lot to work with – over four hours’ worth.

If you felt frustrated listening to one of the Rzucek lawyers conveying his impressions to Dr. Phil, you weren’t alone. We wanted to know exactly what Watts said, and also how he said it. The tone. The pitch. The context. Most important, the psychology. Is it believable. Does what he’s saying actually make sense, or does it conform to another pattern…?

And then the Rzuceks provided their impressions. They were touching, and while we felt sympathetic to the family, the two-part show  never provided the kind of deep diving psychological analysis Watts’s Second Confession really needed.

On the other hand, not having video and sometimes having the audio muffled or cut out was frustrating. The chronology of Agent Tammy Lee’s 29-page CBI Report and the audio aren’t an absolute match, which is interesting. It shows while the law enforcement trio went to the prison with specific questions, they didn’t necessarily ask all of them in a specific order, nor did they get their answers in a prescribed order either. This makes for a chaotic narrative, and it was my job to unravel it and rearrange it.

Transcribing audio is hard work, but worth it, as I think readers have discovered.

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A Critical Reviewer Has A Change of Heart

After leaving not one but two scathing one star reviews, one reader’s outlook shifts markedly in book 5, DRILLING THROUGH DISCOVERY.

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The reviewer makes a good point that one book isn’t the final analysis on Chris Watts. The books need to be seen as a continuum. Each narrative exposes another facet of the case, and each narrative reflects the knowledge-base known at the time it was written.

In ANNIHILATION I’ll be dealing with Watts “Second Confession” and addressing how the information in that final interview changes things, and why and where it doesn’t. I’ll also be providing a final analysis for where, how and why the crimes took place [based on all the information we now have] and what the murder weapons were. ANNIHILATION will also be explicit about the exact time of death of the three victims.

Something else worth noting – although this series of books is designed not to be read at a snail’s pace,  racing through the content and skipping links means you miss most of the really good stuff. Many subtle, intricate, carefully laid out and meticulously reasoned arguments are missed when the reader starts detaching from the narrative and scrolling on. Don’t do that.

Give the narrative time and opportunity to present its case. Explore some of the reinforcing material if you’re curious or unconvinced. Be curious! Believe me, all the building blocks and explanations are in place, just give yourself the space to absorb them and then decide for yourself how much they resonate.

Buy the 6-part TWO FACE series here for $40.

BOOK 7 COMING [RELATIVELY] SOON…

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Two Recent Reviews of DRILLING THROUGH DISCOVERY by British Readers

I try to be balanced when blowing my own trumpet with book reviews, by also providing a poor review, and dealing with the criticisms. This time I’m not going to do that. I do find it strange how the reviews differ in that some [a minority] accuse the writing of being “badly researched”, while others refer to it as “superb journalism”. So which is it?

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It is important to note that, as “Liverbird” points out, one should read the books in the order they are written. The theories presented in the later books are “built” in the first narrative, and tested, developed and improved upon as more and more information is analyzed, integrated and the overall case understood.


More reviews from British readers for the first four books in the series, provided here in reverse order. RAPE OF CASSANDRA is the 4th book in the series.

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Below is a review, also from “Liverbird”, on TWO POLLYANNAS, the 3rd book in the series.

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British review for the 2nd book BENEATH THE OIL.

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I sincerely appreciate the reviewer “madbmad” for pointing out how accurate the first book was [published in mid-September] even though the book was only read in February. It’s easy to forget what we didn’t know prior to the discovery document dump in November. THE MAN UNDERNEATH CHRISTOPHER WATTS referred to the “other Chris” and a “second Chris” two full months before FBI agent Grahm Coder’s interrogation was made public, where he put it to the suspect that there were “two Chrises”.

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More: The Tale of Two Chrises

For American readers, follow this link to read samples or purchase the TWO FACE series from Amazon.com.

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Latest Review of DRILLING THROUGH DISCOVERY

This book was just so incredibly well done! To anyone that is interested in this case, this is vital reading. It walks you through the interrogation from many different perspectives. I found myself, as I tend to do with Nick’s books, reflecting on this case and gaining incredible new insight into what, when, where, how, and most importantly, why. If there are questions as to why this book isn’t released in hardcopy form, it really isn’t meant to be. The links provided by the author, (peppered through the book) when clicked on, invoke stronger understanding. Nick has such a brilliant mind and was born to do this! I’m ready to go back and start reading the other books in the series for the second time. I just can’t get enough! I’m hooked!

 

2 Reviews – 1 Gets it, 1 Doesn’t

Some people wake up in the morning and check their notifications on social media. Since I have about 92 titles out there [including several series], and since I earn a living from true crime writing, I like to stay on top of the reviews. Am I hitting the mark with readers or missing it?

Are the Jerry MaGuire moments that I experienced while writing translating in people’s minds? Are they seeing some of the insights I’m seeing, is some of the obscurity around this case beginning to clear in their minds too?

Today was a pleasant surprise. A dude called Joshua found the signal in the noise and reflected on it. We’ll get to Joshua in a moment.

For true crime to be any good it has to be accurate. If any of the facts are wrong, if small details are slightly off, the whole narrative becomes unreliable. In this respect I sincerely value feedback from readers or critics who point out material inaccuracies.

One of the strong points of my books [and CrimeRocket] is the consistent quality and accuracy of the research. One can only be on top of a case by sitting on it day in and day out, and applying one’s mind consistently.  It can take a long time to unearth what’s hidden. As tough as true crime is, it becomes unnecessarily harder when conspiracies are added to the stew. They’re easy to foist away when they’re fresh. If, however, one comes to a case like the Ramsey case 20 years later, there are often so many myths and conspiracies, it can feel pretty daunting finding a tangible thread to draw on when the case is so littered with chaff and nonsense.

At this site conspiracy theories are avoided like the plague unless they’re considered serious and important enough to be debunked.

While precision needs to one of the highest priorities in true crime, what precision is not, and isn’t trying to be, is this:

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The “error filled” criticism suggests that the research is at fault, when in reality, the gripe seems to be about spelling mistakes. The Discovery Documents are rife with spelling errors, and a few factual inconsistencies too. Does that mean the entire file is trash?

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The above reviewer’s most useful contribution is in the color of the suitcase. He’s right. The suitcase Shan’ann traveled with to Arizona wasn’t a neon pink-orange as described in the first TWO FACE book [published in mid-September 2018], in fact it was black.

Of course, complaining about this in January, four months after the book was written [and with the benefit of the bodycam footage] is playing johnny-come-lately to this case, piggybacking on one set of data at one point in time in order to poke holes in another set, writing at another time. Not exactly fair, is it?

That said, it is worth mentioning, and it has been mentioned here several times. This issue was broached on November 25 [a week after the Discovery Documents were released] in this post:

Chris Watts moved Shan’ann’s suitcase from the bottom of the stairs to inside the master bedroom upstairs, leaving it at the doorway – why?

And again on December 4 in this post:

The Suitcase At the Bottom of the Stairs

And to some extent in this this post on December 6:

Shan’ann’s black suitcase was moved upstairs – what about the purple sleep mask?

What makes the reviewer’s point feel a tad disingenuous is the contention that the “errors” were made recklessly, rather than the fact that when the first book was written the color of the suitcase, as pointed above, was unknown.

When I described Shan’ann exiting Nickole’s vehicle in the narrative and entering the front door, I wanted as realistic an account as possible. So I went looking through Shan’ann’s social media for her suitcases and initially found this one.

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Ironically, this narrative description hasn’t been trumped by actual video footage from the doorbell camera of Shan’ann arriving at the door as she was recorded arriving. So we have to visualize that until the evidence is released [if it ever is].

The point of writing the first book barely a month after the crimes was to demonstrate [and test] how much we could know and extrapolate based on publicly available knowledge, as well as observation and insight.

In the scheme of things the color of the suitcase doesn’t matter as much as the suitcase narrative matters [where it was, where it moved to subsequently, and what was removed from it without the permission of law enforcement]. The suitcase is also an important marker in that theoretically it points to Shan’ann’s movements inside the house. She’s at the door, she removed her shoes, she enters and gets to the staircase. After that there is arguably no way to track her final moments.

The reviewer also seems to take great exception to the assertion in the first book that Shan’ann was a qualified nurse. Wasn’t she? What student loans was she repaying?

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The accusation that the book was published “too soon” misses the point. It was purposefully researched and written quickly and published first. This is one of the mission parameters of Rocket Science as per the TOOLBOX tab on CrimeRocket:

To deliver accurate, accessible  true crime narratives quicker, better and more effectively than anyone else.

The logo of TCRS depicts a journalist riding a rocket, holding a camera in one hand, blasting the latest story into the public domain. So to accuse Rocket Science of researching and/or publishing too quickly is like accusing Coca Cola of being sweet.

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As for the reviewer’s complaints about spelling, Dieter with a small letter is dieter, and like many in the news media, I took an executive decision and “corrected” the spelling. It’s true that Shan’ann and others spelled the dog’s name Dieter, but my own journalistic standards balk at the spelling. What can I say, sorry about that.

The spelling of Shan’ann’s name is a different story, but at least on this point the reviewer agrees.

The name of Thayer’s daughter was taken from audio interviews made to the news media following Watts’ arrest. Her name was not published in any news media, but was subsequently found on Thayer’s Instagram account.

The reviewer seems to care about these details, and of course they matter, but how they play into the material aspects of a triple murder are questionable. What about the big theories presented in the first book? What about the order of the crimes, the timing, the location, what about the core issues to this case?

The final point to make is about a regular accusation made by true crime critics of true crime writers. By writing a book about a case one is being “greedy”. I used to be a full-time journalist. Now I’m a full-time true crime author. I do it for a living. It’s work, it’s work I care about and I daresay harder work and longer hours for each dollar earned than most regular jobs. When folks working regular jobs receive their paychecks for work they did are they greedy too?

It’s tempting to think that the criticisms mentioned above aren’t even sincere, but rather that – for whatever reason – the reviewer simply wishes to score points. But it may be that they are sincere, which is a shame, because he completely misses the point of what these narratives are trying to do.

Far from just writing to pay the rent, I have a sense of mission about justice and true crime. And a few people do get it, like this guy.

More: Chris Watts: What Rocket Science got right – and wrong

7th Review of RAPE OF CASSANDRA

The latest review, posted yesterday [December 27th], is the 7th straight five star review for RAPE OF CASSANDRA. RAPE  OF CASSANDRA is currently a #1 Bestseller in the Trial Practice category on Amazon, and #18 in the Hoaxes & Deceptions category.

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One reason, I think, for the strong ratings, RAPE OF CASSANDRA is by far the most voluminous of the four books currently available in the series, and for that reason it’s also the most expensive.

While writing RAPE OF CASSANDRA the intention was  to cover essential narrative territory, including the status conference [when the plea deal was announced] and the sentencing hearing. The idea was not to drill into the discovery. I wanted to leave that for the fifth book in the series. In the end, I decided to do some analysis from the discovery dump, simply because the books are meant to be the most current narrative available when they come out, so to not refer to the discovery in some detail would be a failure to do due diligence.

Unfortunately, dealing with the discovery meant sacrificing a fair amount of trial coverage and analysis. Even so, the discovery is only glimpsed at in RAPE OF CASSANDRA. The fifth narrative focuses entirely on the discovery; analyzing, filtering and organizing the information in an effort to make sense of it. That analysis goes way beyond the superlight coverage here on CrimeRocket.

RAPE OF CASSANDRA’s high rating isn’t bad, especially considering the string of poor reviews for the first book that have been coming through of late.

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Many of the complaints about the first book are from folks who are only coming into the narrative now. The complaint is that there’s nothing new in the first book. Personally, I don’t think that’s true, especially the narrative around the dogs which even the Discovery Documents don’t deal with in detail, and much of the information around the dogs is muddled and unclear.

When the first TWO FACE was published on September 10th, the information and the chronology was brand new. The power of the first narrative – in my view at any rate – lies in its prescience. The crime scene and execution of the crime was intuited and three books later, many of those original intuitions still appear to hold water. So the complaint that the first book was written “too early” misses the point – it was intended to be written early for two reasons:

1. To meet the demand of regular Rocket Science [originally #Shakedown] readers who have come to expect and rely on rapid delivery of true crime narratives.

2. To test and challenge my ability to fathom a brand new case while being mostly in the dark about many, if not most aspects of the crime, crime scene and characters involved.

So, to be fair, the first narrative ought to be evaluated within those parameters.

It should also be mentioned that in order to enjoy these books, to get the most out of them and the series as a whole, it’s important to catch the narratives as soon as possible after they come out. Besides being the first narratives to bite at the various cherries in this case, many of the links referred to work early on, but over time are sometimes removed by the original source. That is one reason why CrimeRocket exists. It serves as an archive of content – including photos – for the narratives to refer to, without the risk of them being removed months or years later.

Coming in January…

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