Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

A provocative and original investigation of our cultural fascination with crime, linking four archetypes—Detective, Victim, Attorney, Killer—to four true stories about women driven by obsession.In this illuminating exploration of women, violence, and obsession, Rachel Monroe interrogates the appeal of true crime through four narratives of fixation. In the 1940s, a bored he...

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Title:Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession
Author:Rachel Monroe
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Edition Language:English

Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession Reviews

  • Emma Eisenberg

    If I could give this book 6 stars, I would--it is the book I have been waiting to read all my life <3

    Monroe asks the questions about gender, sex, power, violence, and technology that I have long been asking and gives the most satisfying answers I've yet read. Her prose is stylish and urgent and I flew through this in a night and a morning. It is not trying to be a true crime book but rather meta true crime, more analytic than narrative. For those looking for such a text you won't be disappoin

    If I could give this book 6 stars, I would--it is the book I have been waiting to read all my life <3

    Monroe asks the questions about gender, sex, power, violence, and technology that I have long been asking and gives the most satisfying answers I've yet read. Her prose is stylish and urgent and I flew through this in a night and a morning. It is not trying to be a true crime book but rather meta true crime, more analytic than narrative. For those looking for such a text you won't be disappointed

  • Chermaine

    I'm finally glad to see a true crime book that talks about the complexities of people's interest in death and murder and all those things and even how many women aren't just some mindless creatures who decide to become Serial Killers groupies or decide to become murderers because some man told them to.

    It's extremely interesting in that it is satisfying to see that there are people who look at this and are horrified at the things that Humanity can do but ,they want to understand it maybe be to ma

    I'm finally glad to see a true crime book that talks about the complexities of people's interest in death and murder and all those things and even how many women aren't just some mindless creatures who decide to become Serial Killers groupies or decide to become murderers because some man told them to.

    It's extremely interesting in that it is satisfying to see that there are people who look at this and are horrified at the things that Humanity can do but ,they want to understand it maybe be to make themselves feel better, but often its just so they can do more than prevent things from happening and to understand how it could happen in the first place.

  • Olive (abookolive)

    Check out my review/discussion video on booktube:

    My written review for Open Letters Review is forthcoming!

  • Valerity (Val)

    Rachel Monroe’s book delves into the issue of women and their obsession with true crime. As if that’s always a bad thing. This is basically divided into four sections relating four different cases the author examines as separate cases to consider as studies. I was already familiar with the one of the heiress in the 1940’s who came up with and then crafted a dozen miniaturized crime scenes called nutshells that were used for teaching what later became known as forensics. The second chapter is on

    Rachel Monroe’s book delves into the issue of women and their obsession with true crime. As if that’s always a bad thing. This is basically divided into four sections relating four different cases the author examines as separate cases to consider as studies. I was already familiar with the one of the heiress in the 1940’s who came up with and then crafted a dozen miniaturized crime scenes called nutshells that were used for teaching what later became known as forensics. The second chapter is on a woman who years later, moved into the house where Sharon Tate and others were murdered. She has a thing for the murders and the Tate family in particular and spends her time trying to get to know everything there is to know about both. I remember reading the book she wrote after she eventually managed to get close to remaining family members after mother Doris Tate passed away. The third chapter is about a New York woman who becomes enmeshed with one of the West Memphis Three after seeing a video on it. After falling for one of them by mail, she devotes her life to trying to get him released from death row. And finally, the fourth chapter is about a young female who becomes infatuated with the Columbine school killers after reading all about their exploits online, and begins planning a shooting of her own.

    This isn’t a typical true crime book, there is some discussion of the large number of women who are hooked on true crime vs. the small number of men. Then these four different kinds of examples and what they might mean. But it’s still all very interesting if you like the subject. I certainly had no complaints with it and was interested very much. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Rachel Monroe, and the publisher.

    My BookZone blog:

  • Mary

    Savage Appetites is a unique look at women's obsession with True Crime, and four women who took that obsession to an extreme level. Writing with a journalistic prose, author Rachel Monroe has given the reader a fresh take on True Crime and fans will enjoy reading about these four cases.

  • Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    3.5 stars

    Our society has become obsessed with true crime.  Podcasts, books, TV shows, websites, and TV channels devote hours to discussing crimes.  Statistically speaking, it's women who are fueling this obsession.  The overwhelming majority of true crime readers and true crime podcast listeners are female.  According to Monroe, forensic science is one of the fastest growing college majors and seven in ten of those students are female.

     Rachel Monroe has chosen four stories to discuss the history

    3.5 stars

    Our society has become obsessed with true crime.  Podcasts, books, TV shows, websites, and TV channels devote hours to discussing crimes.  Statistically speaking, it's women who are fueling this obsession.  The overwhelming majority of true crime readers and true crime podcast listeners are female.  According to Monroe, forensic science is one of the fastest growing college majors and seven in ten of those students are female.

     Rachel Monroe has chosen four stories to discuss the history of forensics and the true-crime obsessed while also analyzing her own fascination with the genre and its effect on her life.

    divides four stories into chapters, including:  The Detective, The Victim, The Defender, and The Killer.

    The Detective tells readers the story of Frances Glessner Lee, a wealthy heiress who used her time and money to create Nutshells---painstakingly detailed miniatures of crime scenes that were used as training tools for law enforcement.  Lee was an unlikely detective whose obsession with crime was tolerated because of her wealth.

    The Victim follows the bizarre story of life for actress Sharon Tate's family after her death at the hands of the Manson Family.  Tate's younger sister Patti eventually became the family spokesperson after her mother's death with the support of Alisa Statman.  

    In 1990, Statman moved into the Beverly Hills guesthouse on the property where Sharon Tate and her friends were murdered.  Statman claims she only became interested in the history of Sharon Tate after she moved in and helped writer Bill Nelson with some research.  Either way, she eventually became close with Patti and continued to raise Patti's children and speak for the family after her death.

    The Defender explores the relationship between Lorri Davis and death row inmate Damien Echols, one of the "West Memphis Three" accused of murdering three eight-year-old boys in Arkansas.  Lorri and Damien became acquainted through letters after Lorri watched a documentary about the murders and believed Damien to be innocent.  She quickly became fixated on the case and began a romantic relationship with him. Lorri left a successful life in NYC to move closer to Damien.  The couple married and Lorri devoted all of her time to the case.

    The West Memphis Three gained the support of several celebrities who funded further investigation that could lead to new evidence that would allow for a new trial and all three men were eventually released from prison.  

    The Killer details the progression of an online chat between Lindsay Souvannarath and her friend James who both shared an obsession with Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.  The pair eventually begin planning to open fire at a mall in Nova Scotia but an anonymous tip prevents them from carrying out their plan.  Many people believe their discussion was mostly bravado and the young couple would never have actually opened fire but there was certainly intent since Lindsay boarded the plane to Nova Scotia to meet James.

    I found all four of these stories to be fascinating and enjoyed the discussion and structure of the book.  All four women are vastly different and that's why the stories work so well together.

    is four true crime stories that explore obsession and motivation in relation to women who gravitate to the subject.

    I recommend it for readers who enjoy true crime and sociology.

    Thanks to Scribner and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

     is scheduled for release on August 20, 2019.

    For more reviews, visit

  • Kristy K

    While definitely interesting, this wasn’t what I expected when I went into it. This reads as a part-memoir, part-biography of women who obsessed over crime. This will appeal to the niche of true crime lovers who are fascinated by those who take their devotion a step further.

  • Jessica Woodbury

    Let's just start with all the ways in which I have specific, subjective opinions about this book. I hate the true crime trend. I specifically hate the fandoms that have grown up around true crime. For me, it is exploitative and disrespectful, it turns real problems and pain into entertainment, and it does little to take on the very real issues of violence, poverty, policing, and bias in our criminal justice system even though all of these things are central to the real world of crime and punishm

    Let's just start with all the ways in which I have specific, subjective opinions about this book. I hate the true crime trend. I specifically hate the fandoms that have grown up around true crime. For me, it is exploitative and disrespectful, it turns real problems and pain into entertainment, and it does little to take on the very real issues of violence, poverty, policing, and bias in our criminal justice system even though all of these things are central to the real world of crime and punishment. If that is also you, this book may look interesting to you the way it did to me. Because I think it's time for a real examination of why and how our culture is obsessed with true crime. But if you feel the way I do, it's very possible the book will hit you the way it hit me and not be what you wanted.

    This is not really the book's fault. But I assumed that I would be a good audience for this book. It turns out I am not. This book is not for me. And that's fine! It did not make me actively angry the way a lot of true crime does, it is attempting to analyze the unhealthy obsessions people (women in particular) have with true crime. But for a reader like me it feels like it has started a journey only to get off a few stops in, leaving all the real juicy stuff just sitting there untouched.

    I suspect that the audience for this book is the actual lovers of true crime who are ready to be more thoughtful about their obsessions. The book has stories of four women interspersed with some commentary and stories of Monroe herself and her obsessions. The main issue I have with this structure is the difference between Monroe and her subjects. The women in her stories go to extremes, like EXTREME extremes. It's too easy to separate the typical behaviors of Monroe and women like her from the women in these stories. The conclusions she wants to draw about why women become obsessed don't quite fit these other stories that are writ so large that it's easy to say, "Yeah but that person is obviously dealing with some real issues whereas I would never do that."

    Still, Monroe does start to make some real criticism of the culture that has sprung up around true crime obsessives and why women in particular are drawn to it. She really has the right ideas and the right themes, she just lets the other women's stories dominate the narrative. And, if you're a reader like me, she doesn't seem willing to see it all through.

    I realized near the end of the book that the only way this book would please me is if it were a full on indictment of this culture, and it clearly isn't ready to be that. It wants to map out the roots of these obsessions, the ways it can help women feel control in their lives, without condemning it. She seems to want her readers to consider their own feelings and see how they can be more critical without going any farther.

    Structurally I think there's a start here but only a start. Still, I think this book will probably appeal to a lot of people. And the ideal book in my mind probably wouldn't appeal to very many people at all! Because I am a curmudgeon who is not reliable for objective reviews of anything true crime related and that's just how it is.

  • Emily

    My standard procedure is not to give star ratings to books I don't finish, but I'm so annoyed by this book that I'm doing it anyway. Savage Appetites is a convoluted mess of a "true crime" book. The synopsis of this book sounds amazing, which is what drew me to it.

    However, the back of the book says that it's a combination of personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media. What this really means is that this book is a combination of judgmental opinions that w

    My standard procedure is not to give star ratings to books I don't finish, but I'm so annoyed by this book that I'm doing it anyway. Savage Appetites is a convoluted mess of a "true crime" book. The synopsis of this book sounds amazing, which is what drew me to it.

    However, the back of the book says that it's a combination of personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media. What this really means is that this book is a combination of judgmental opinions that would be better off on Twitter, the true crime stories, and a grad school thesis someone decided should be published.

    The beginning of the book opens at CrimeCon, and I personally attended the same one the author was at. Yeah, fine, we're weirdos, but the intro makes it sound like the author didn't even want to go since it made her uncomfortable. The author has to let everyone know that she didn't post on social media with the CrimeCon hashtag; I guess so they we'll know she's not like "other girls" 🙄. She continues on to talk about different people she met, and then the different options of activities she wasn't interested in. Maybe I took it too personally because I was there, but it just seems strange to use the introduction of your book to alienate the exact people who will probably be reading it.

    Then we go into the first (and my final) story in which the author gives her unsolicited negative opinions the women she's telling the story about. The women spend their time making morbid dioramas / dollhouses. She talks about their lack of ambition, lack of control, etc. Maybe these judgments are true, but I don't really feel like I need to be told that by a "true crime" book. There's also some judgment about how these women spend their money, and they're put in juxtaposition to women who are becoming cops. Just stop. Women can do different things. The author also lets us know that she used to want to be a cop, so once again we learn that the author is not like "other girls". I don't read true crime to hear someone's shitty opinion. I read true crime to hear a story and learn something, and Savage Appetites does not provide that.

  • Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)

    This is one hot mess of a book.

    The introduction reads like a bad article someone with an interest in true crime might dig up on the internet, read a little bit of, click elsewhere, and then forget entirely. By the time I made it to the last page (heaven help me, somehow I made it) it was more than eminently clear that whatever fascination the author might have originally held for true crime had soured. And with it, went whatever interesting magic this book might have held.

    Here’s a thought: mayb

    This is one hot mess of a book.

    The introduction reads like a bad article someone with an interest in true crime might dig up on the internet, read a little bit of, click elsewhere, and then forget entirely. By the time I made it to the last page (heaven help me, somehow I made it) it was more than eminently clear that whatever fascination the author might have originally held for true crime had soured. And with it, went whatever interesting magic this book might have held.

    Here’s a thought: maybe don’t judge and alienate the people who will be interested in reading your book? I am all for a critical look at whatever the hell you want, and people are more than entitled to their own opinions (as I sit here and type mine out), but the descriptions of the people attending CrimeCon in the first and last section of this book felt savagely judgmental to me. The author’s ire is also focused mainly at women (problematic to say the least!) and she doesn’t really explore the reasons behind the fascination with crime. That’s the book I want to read.

    Look. Is there an issue with romanticizing serial killers and exploiting real people’s trauma and loss for the sake of entertainment? Yes, I think there definitely is. And it’s definitely something to keep in mind before you buy that shirt with Gacy’s face on it. But I also think it’s OK to be interested, to want to explore the details, to want to know why. It’s part of the human condition to face death, and to do it head-on is kind of badass. If we can just know what happened to JonBenet or see what makes someone like Dahmer tick, then maybe, just maybe . . . everything else that’s exploding around us won’t seem so out of control. Who knows. Isn’t it worth a try?

    The book goes on to explore four different perspectives(?) of crime by looking at a few high-profile cases and crime related personalities. I am definitely well-versed in crime, but I have to say that all of the stories chosen for the book have been covered so extensively that I felt the author didn’t really have anything interesting or new to add. In each chapter, there were also some random memoir-y stuff that felt extremely out of place.

    This structure just felt so hodge-podge to me. None of the ideas from chapter to chapter strung together. The book felt like it needed a strong developmental edit. I would have been more interested if it have focused on one of the four chapters more fully, or incorporated a bunch of vignettes on each chapter instead of just one.

    The book also ends on such a sour note, it just put me off the whole thing. Even if it had some interesting ideas here and there, it comes down so negatively on the whole idea, the whole field of true crime, that I’m left wondering why the author even wrote the book at all. Doesn’t she know who the book is going to be marketed to?

    My thanks to Scribner Books for my copy of this one to read and review.

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