The Real-Life Murder Clubs

Citizens Solving True Crimes

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Pub Date 31 Jan 2023 | Archive Date 08 Feb 2023

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What happens when ordinary people, in real-life murder clubs, set out to investigate cold cases and other crimes?

The Netflix hit Don’t F**k with Cats was based on the 2012 Montreal murder of thirty-three-year-old Lin Jun by his porn-star boyfriend, Luka Magnotta. Previously Magnotta had anonymously posted videos of himself killing kittens. This spurred horrified Facebook sleuths into working tirelessly to uncover his identity and location.

In other cases featured, a self-taught forensic artist uses computer software and coroners’ photographs to show what victims looked like when alive.

A mother, who swore at her daughter’s graveside that she would get the gang who had sprayed her car with bullets, fulfils her promise, even if it takes her fourteen years to catch the last killer.

Websleuths matched the IP address of a suspicious contributor to a lottery-winning victim’s financial advisor, which led to his body being found beneath a newly poured concrete slab in his advisor’s boyfriend’s garden.

Sometimes citizen sleuthing goes wrong, though, with innocent people being targeted, or accused of crimes they haven’t committed, with tragic results.

The real-life version of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club is grittier, with intrepid amateur investigators delving into truly gruesome unsolved crimes in pursuit of justice.

What happens when ordinary people, in real-life murder clubs, set out to investigate cold cases and other crimes?

The Netflix hit Don’t F**k with Cats was based on the 2012 Montreal murder of...

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Featured Reviews

Citizen Sleuths Gather…
Citizen sleuths gather together in this well crafted account of mainly high profile, heinous crimes and some lesser known. It’s a fascinating insight and includes commentary taken from many of the more prominent sleuths, some of whom have particular and often rather intriguing and remarkable talents. Things can also go very wrong and there are some tragic instances of this too. True crime aficionados will certainly not want to miss this.

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Who says you can't solve crimes in your spare time? The Real-Life Murder Clubs by Nicola Stow is a look at different people who solve crimes as a side hustle instead of being cops. Each story has someone who goes about their sleuthing in very different ways and highlights many people you would never hear of. The true crimes described can be very grisly and if you don't like too many details then this one could be tough to stomach.

For true crime addicts, I think many will find this book a bit too shallow in its treatment of each case. For a casual read where you knock out a chapter a night, it is wonderful. For a true understanding of these people, their techniques, and especially the "why" then some people will be left with too many questions left unanswered.

(This book was provided to me as an advance copy by Netgalley and Ad Lib Publishers. The full review will be posted to on 2/2/2023.)

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This was an interesting read , introducing the reader to the online sleuths who try to identify Jane and John Does in the US from behind their computers. Each chapter covers a different murder victim and how the online groups and forums were able to identify them, which sometimes led to the killer being arrested. It covers in detail two Netflix documentaries (Don't F**k with Cats and Disappearance at the Cecil Hotel). which for those who have seen them gives an indication of the content.

However, I think those who enjoyed Richard Osman's cosy crime thrillers The Thursday Murder Club, will be surprised at the graphic detail in this book. The sleuths in this book are a far cry from the group of retired care home residents solving cold cases.

I think the publisher (rather than the author) is very much trying to cash-in on the success of someone else's books..

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This book was sent to me by Netgalley for review. Thanks to the publisher for the electronic copy. This is a compilation of real life murders...true...could be a series on television or a movie. Don't miss this has much to offer...

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This is a really interesting, true life, story following how normal people have helped to catch some of the worst criminals through their long tiring research, and deduction. It’s a fairly quick read that briefly looks at many different people, but well worth a read

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Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC of this book.

I’m fascinated by cold cases and the breakthroughs that lead to them being solved. This book was a brilliant overview of some real life cases and the work of civilian detectives in solving them

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Perfect for true-crime aficionados!

I have always looked out for true crime docs on Netflix so when a book version came along I knew I had to read it. The Real-Life Murder Clubs features some well known cases and some less well known. Written with compassion and with a pacy style, it was the perfect book to dip in and out of on each case.

With thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review.

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Superb book, detailing cases solved by internet sleuthing. I found it totally fascinating, some of the armchair sleuths take years to solve cases, but they are dogged and tenacious, and bring comfort to so many families trying to find their lost loved ones. I was full of admiration for their efforts. Highly recommended.

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I listen to a lot of True Crime podcasts, one of which talks about the role of Citizen Detectives in solving crime. So when I saw this book available on Netgalley I knew it was the book for me. Admittedly I haven’t finished it yet, mostly because (for me) I need to take breaks from reading about each investigation as I get pulled in and need some time to recover. The work that is done by citizen detectives is remarkable. Some are close to the crimes and others become close through their investigations. This is definitely a long-overdue recognition for some of these investigators. Well written, empathetic and informative. I am loving reading this book.

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Okay so I was intrigued by this book big time. Because I recently finished watching only murders in the building. If you haven't watched that go watch.
That show wanted me to find books that were kind of like that. And this book fit it perfectly. 5 star book for sure and I highly recommend this book. I might actually reread this book next year because I loved it alot 😍 kept me pulled into it. Had me on the edge of my seat for a bit but I kinda want this turned into a book series.

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I liked the different approach of looking at true crime cases from the perspective of amateur sleuths and what those contributions can look like. The author did a great job with their interviews and research. I sometimes wanted more or less from certain cases we got to look at, but this was an enjoyable and informative read nonetheless. I think true crime fans will enjoy it!

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This book was everything I wanted it to be. It had me turned pages without even realizing. It was so good!

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Loved this cozy mystery. I enjoyed the story and the characters. The plot was fun anf kept me reading until the end!

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I was hooked by Don't F**k With Cats when I watched it in lockdown and particularly the moment that real people find a photo of Luca and track down the exact spot in Toronto that it was taken, so was very intrigued to see an entire book following citizen sleuths and exactly how they work.

The book is divided into different cases, most of which I'd never heard of, where ordinary people work to catch killers or to return the bodies of missing people to their families. I've really loved having an insight into these people and so many others who take it upon themselves to solve cold cases – and the hours and hours of often unrewarding research that it takes to break a single case. Absolutely fascinating.

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The Real-Life Murder Clubs: Citizens Solving True Crimes by Nicola Stow gives us a look into the world of citizen sleuths. Unlike investigators who are actively involved in solving these cases in an official capacity, these individuals/groups work with whatever information is available in the public domain. As the author mentions that while she had initially assumed that she would be meeting people similar to Richard Osman’s characters from his popular Thursday Murder Club series she found that the real-life versions of citizens attempting to solve crimes were “grittier, inhabited by obsessive, intrepid souls who delve into some of the most gruesome cases in true crime history, while seeking justice and truth for both loved ones and strangers.”

Concise yet factual and informative, this is a well-researched book. The narrative is divided into twelve chapters, each detailing the crime/crime scene and the sleuth or group/initiative involved in working on that case. From simple internet research and poring over missing person databases and data mining to forensic artistry, bioinformatics and genetic genealogy, these citizen sleuths employ several techniques in the process of identifying unnamed victims, not only providing their families with the answers they have been seeking but also presenting law enforcement with new details on cold cases. The author mentions different initiatives/groups that work toward victim identification and researching cold cases such as The Doe Network, Project EDAN, The DNA Doe Project and among others.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the citizen sleuths who are motivated to help bring closure to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives to heinous crimes and remain unidentified. You have to admire the methodical approach and the hours and hours these people devote to their endeavors. While many are motivated on account of personal experiences (or that of people known to them), others simply want to help. In the first segment, a mother uses the internet and made-up social media profiles to identify gang members who were involved in the shooting of her daughter in a case of mistaken identity. The author talks about several cases, some cold cases from decades ago, some of which are well-known (JonBenet Ramsey and Golden State Killer cases, for example) and some lesser known cold cases, as well as some relatively more recent cases ( such as the arrest of Luka Magnotta that was documented in the Netflix documentary series Don't F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer). She has also mentioned instances in which the overzealousness of citizens researching crime has resulted in false allegations and has caused much chaos in the lives of innocent people. The author also notes that in many instances the authorities have not acknowledged the contribution of the internet sleuths in solving some of the cases mentioned. This, however, has not deterred the individuals and groups in question in their efforts to help as many victims and their families find closure.

The author also provides a list of resources available for those who might want to know more. I should mention, however, that the descriptions of the crimes and the crime scenes described in this book might be upsetting for some readers.

Overall, this is an interesting read that I believe would appeal to true-crime aficionados, those who are curious about citizen sleuths and the different initiatives that are available for those who require assistance.

Many thanks to Ad Lib Publishers and NetGalley for the digital review copy. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. This book is due to be released on November 24, 2022.

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🔎🕵️‍♀️ The Real-Life Murder Clubs by Nicola Stow 🕵️‍♀️🔎

A wonderful collection of true criminal investigations, solved by armchair detectives. If you love a good docu-series on Netflix, or find yourself watching Unsolved Crimes on YouTube, or spend hours scrolling through conspiracy threads on Reddit, then this book is for you!

I was already familiar with some of the cases in this book, but it was still enjoyable to read them again and learn about new cases I had not heard about. The writing style was very readable and enjoyable, and this would make a great gift for any true-crime lover.

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