'A book for all the cops and cop-wanna-bes' Gary Jones, a retired captain of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, police department, has written a new book entitled Badge 149 - Shots Fired! The book focuses on one of the most troubling periods in American law enforcement: the bloody 1970s -- not a good time to be a law enforcement officer in the United States -- unless you were heavily armed. At that time, Jones says, violent crime was "almost out of control." His book tells the true story of the police response -- which involved a lot of firepower. Filled with exclamation points, appropriate in their context, Jones' work is one helluva rip-roaring ride-along. Here is an excerpt, in which he describes the reaction of his partner, Mike, when fired upon by some clowns in a Camaro:
"Blaaaaaaaaaat!" I really hadn't expected it, so this weird sound startled me when I first heard it. But, even though the sound surprised me, I recognized it immediately! "It" was the unique sound of the American 180 Machine Gun Mike carried. I really shouldn't have been surprised, though. I mean, what the hell did I think Mike was going to do with the damn thing? This wasn't "show and tell" at school and I knew he wasn't gonna just let the bastards in the Camaro look at it. I knew damn well Mike intended to use it if things turned shitty, so the high-pitched metallic-like grinding sound shouldn't have surprised me at all.
I noticed the distinctive red dot of the laser beam a split second after Mike opened fire. It first appeared on the passenger's side of the vehicle's rear windshield. I watched in awe as the red dot slowly moved across the entire length of the back windshield towards the driver's side of the vehicle. As it moved, it seemed to viciously slice away at the window itself and broken pieces of shattered glass flew off in all directions. It almost seemed as if someone had planted dozens of small explosive charges in the windshield itself and now these mini-charges were being detonated one at a time in very rapid succession. But, I knew it wasn't the red dot that was systematically dissecting the windshield, piece by devastating piece. It was the awesome fusillade of .22 cal. rounds the American 180 was spitting out, at an almost incredible 29.6 rounds per second. I've never seen such total and absolute destruction from one single weapon. In a horrible and terrifying way, it was truly impressive!
You can find more details, and order the book, at the author's website.
From the Great Canon of Female Fiends Have you ever heard of Lucretia Cannon (1803-1829), a/k/a Patty Cannon? Maybe not. She was a "serial killer" -- strictly speaking -- of slave traders whose bad karma led them to visit her Delaware tavern, while simultaneously running her own little Underground Railroad -- in the wrong direction. She is easily one of the worst women America has ever produced. Though she was probably born in Canada, so let's blame those folks, eh?
Long after she committed suicide to cheat the hangman, a broadside was published in 1841 entitled "Narrative and Confessions of Lucretia P. Cannon, who was Tried, Convicted, and sentenced to be Hung at Georgetown, Delaware, with Two of her Accomplices. Containing an Account of some of the Most Horrible and Shocking Murders and Daring Robberies Ever Committed by One of the Female Sex." But it will cost you $1,250 to acquire this ghoulish piece of Americana. From the bookseller's description:
Lucretia Cannon was not exactly a gentlewoman. Indeed, "Patty" Cannon was as notorious as they come. She appeared in the area along the Delaware-Maryland border, probably coming from Canada, around 1810. Already a woman of ill-repute, she disposed of her husband the old-fashioned way, perhaps the first of many men to meet their final rewards with Patty's assistance. She set up a tavern in Johnson's Corners (now Reliance, Delaware) and formed a gang of loyal and ruthless followers. Apparently, Patty was a tough, large, physically strong woman who could terrorize any man around. She made her tavern a welcoming spot for traveling slave dealers, a group generally not that popular at northern establishments. Her gang would pray on the weaker ones, relieving them of their money. Lest you think this was some sort of protest against the slave trade by Patty, she soon expanded into the business of capturing free Blacks and selling them into slavery in the South. She frequently had these new slaves shackled in the attic of her boarding house and tavern. Her luck ran out in 1829 when she was arrested for four murders, although she was suspected of over twenty.
If Lucretia's story interests you, and you're anywhere near the Dover, Delaware public library, you can take a look at her skull. It's kept in a box in the library staff room.
Hitchcock's Favorite Crime Alfred Hitchcock based many of his classic works on real cases. This terrific article explores the links between true crime and Hitchock's immortal works of suspense. And his very favorite case? Why, that old enigma, Dr. Crippen.
Speaking of which, the new book of historical true crime by Erik Larson (who is, of course, from Seattle), Thunderstruck, about the Crippen case, is about to take the world by storm. An old interview with Larson delves into his inspiration (Caleb Carr's The Alienist, which I agree is one of the most influential works of fiction in recent years) as well as his selection criteria, and this answered a few questions for me.
Medieval Crime and Punishment I came across a terrific set of links in this theme that will lead you to all sorts of fascinating websites, including essays on medieval crime, superstitions, sex crimes, outlaws, highwaymen, punishments, tortures, torture devices, and inquisitions. (The links must be cut and pasted.) Delve at your own peril !