Tuesday, July 19, 2022

BookSirens ARC | The Girl I Never Knew

I received a free digital ARC via BookSirens in exchange for an honest review.

Rating ⭐⭐1/2

The author's book details her investigation into the unsolved murder of 19 year old Melissa Witt in 1994. Witt disappeared from a bowling alley where she had gone to meet her mom for a burger, and despite blood on the scene and signs of a struggle, no firm leads went anywhere. A month and a half later Witt's body was found deep within Ozark National Forest. Humphrey has dedicated nearly seven years of her life tracking down leads, witnesses, suspects.

The case itself is interesting and important; all victims deserve justice. But the author and I were not clicking. I don't think this was the author's intention, because she seems very sincere in her quest to solve the case, but sometimes the book became too much about her and what she was thinking and feeling. I understand that perhaps she included so much of herself to show how it was impacting her and how she dedicated is, but it is SUCH a fine line to walk when it comes to true crime - authors are always in danger of inserting themselves into the case even when they do not intend to. Like I said, I don't think that was the author's intent, but that's how it came across. It made me so uncomfortable.

Another thing that I truly hate with the fiery passions of one thousand suns is re-created conversations in non-fiction books. I have tossed many a book aside when that happens and it always seems to be such a fixture in true crime books. There is no way someone remembers every single conversation about every single instance the case was discussed unless the conversation was recorded and thus trascribed. I absolutely abhor it, and it drives me bonkers. Unfortunately, it happened a lot here.

There was also a bit of filler relating to other cases. There are times when the author mentions various suspects and gives the reader background on them and why they make sense as a suspect. But sometimes various people are introduced who have literally nothing to do with the case, were not a suspect in any way, and did not belong here. Not often, but should not have been included at all.

There are some positives here, and I truly do hope that Melissa Witt's killer will be brought to justice. Her friends and family deserve to know what happened and I do think it is important work being done by those who investigate these crimes when it seems like the police are not terribly interested anymore, or more often, do not have the man-power to dedicate the time necessary to cold cases.

The writing itself is fairly clear and concise - there are several suspects and pieces of evidence to keep track of, but it was never confusing. The author truly does have good intentions I believe, and explains how she came to learn of Witt and her murder. Based on the information provided by the author, I do believe she is on the right track and that she has spoken to the murderer in her quest to solve the case. I feel pretty certain that Humphrey also recognizes this, and the safety of her and her family is a concern. I don't know that there is some big conspiracy, but I am pretty sure even nearly three decades later, the man who killed Witt is not keen about that information going public.

Unfortunately there is no conclusion, because the case has yet to be solved. Her mother passed away in 2011, never knowing who murdered her baby. But we can hope that one day those left behind will finally have answers.

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