Book Review: Urge to Kill by Martin Edwards (2002)

I bought this book as part of my initial membership with the Writers Digest Book Club last year, and as all writers who subscribe to that book club want the cheap Writer’s Market, and everything else is gravy.

This book looked colorful, and its paragraph description led me to believe it would inspire me in my quest to write suspense novels and mysteries. Well, at least it didn’t take too long to read.

The book is a cross between a morbid coffeetable book, chock full of crime scene photos interspersed with movie stills, and an almost textbookish overview of crimes and their investigations. As a matter of fact, the author spends the introduction explaining that he’s written textbooks. So he’s a credible witness. Until he gets to the Firearms section of the Means to Murder chapter (chapter 2), which starts:

Firearms (other than crossbows, which are occasionally used as murder weapons) fall into two categories: smooth bore or rifled.

And a couple paragraphs later:

Single-shot automatics have to be loaded manually each time the gun is fired.

This section triggered enough doubt about the expert testimony that the author’s presenting to look with a skeptical eye on any technical detail within the book, which pretty much rendered the author’s claims to authority kinda moot.

Plus, it really only captures and distills the procedures and considerations given to a crime (particularly murder) that one would get from a number of years of Ed McBain, Thomas Philbin, and O’Neil De Noux. Of course, it includes the aforementioned photographs, so the actual text of its 190 some pages only really comprises 110 pages or so, but it’s still textbook enough to lack excitement.

Perhaps I’ll have gotten something from the page-long case studies in murders from Ted Bundy to the Unabomber to more obscure–to Americans–cases from the U.K. But probably not.

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