Genre: True Crime, Memoir
Publisher:Thomas Dunne Books
When an eleven-year-old James Renner fell in love with Amy Mihaljevic, the missing girl seen on posters all over his neighborhood, it was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with true crime. That obsession led Renner to a successful career as an investigative journalist. It also gave him post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2011, Renner began researching the strange disappearance of Maura Murray, a University of Massachusetts student who went missing after wrecking her car in rural New Hampshire in 2004. Over the course of his investigation, he uncovered numerous important and shocking new clues about what may have happened to Murray but also found himself in increasingly dangerous situations with little regard for his own well-being. As his quest to find Murray deepened, the case started taking a toll on his personal life, which began to spiral out of control. The result is an absorbing dual investigation of the complicated story of the All-American girl who went missing and Renner’s own equally complicated true-crime addiction.
True Crime Addict is the story of Renner’s spellbinding investigation, which has taken on a life of its own for armchair sleuths across the web. In the spirit of David Fincher’s Zodiac, it’s a fascinating look at a case that has eluded authorities and one man’s obsessive quest for the answers.
Have you heard of the Maura Murray disappearance? No? Well, get ready to begin your new obsession. Her disappearance is no regular mystery. It’s a mystery in a mystery, if you will. Maura Murray gets into a car accident on a remote road called Wild Ammonoosuc. A few people saw her before she disappeared with no trace. Prior to her disappearance, she packed her dorm room, emptied her bank account, and emailed her professors that she wouldn’t be in class because a death in the family had occurred (no such death occurred). Why did she pack her belongings? Where was she going? Why did she lie to her professors? What happened to Maura Murray?
I first heard about this case through the Night Time Podcast where the host talks a little about the case and interviews a few “experts”. One of these experts was James Renner. As soon as he mentioned his published book about his investigation into Murray’s disappearance I immediately rented it from the library. Thus, my obsession began.
Renner’s investigation and personal life are the focal point of the novel. When I realized that Renner’s personal life was going to play a large role in the book I was a little disappointed since I only wanted to read about Murray’s disappearance. However, after finishing the novel I’m incredibly pleased to say that Renner’s life that he features in the novel is important in understanding his motivation and drive in uncovering the truth. I can almost say that Renner as an individual is almost as interesting as Murray’s disappearance. If you’re hesitant about picking up the novel because Renner’s life is heavily featured, do not fret because his life plays an important role in understanding his involvement in the case.
Since I went into this novel knowing quite a bit about the case, I cannot say for certain whether or not Renner does a good job of explaining Murray’s case. However, he does a great job of explaining the events in a linear fashion. By the end of the novel, you’ll be able to speak about the case in great detail.
The reason I rated this novel four stars instead of five is because near the end the focus shifts almost complete to Renner as he recounts his time in jail and the Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus abduction. I’m not criticising the writing or saying that it was boring. I was just disappointed in the shift in perspective because I didn’t know anything about those abductions, so I felt lost. I was firmly rooted in the Murray disappearance and wanted to focus solely on that.
Overall, True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray is a fantastic true crime novel with personal touches that will leave you wanting more.