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Posted September 20, 2011
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (7/11)
When Rusty Linden is handed the opportunity to take on a journalist assignment that will have her living with a recently paroled murderer, she feels both excitement at having this opportunity, and trepidation because her safety could be at risk. Being the kind of reporter that she is, she chooses to take the assignment and the risks that go with it.
The parolee is Antonia Brandon. Paroled after thirty-nine years, she had been in prison for being part of a cult that was responsible for committing heinous multiple murders. Her cult leader was trying to model himself after Charles Manson. Because of her active role in the murders, she is still despised even almost forty years later.
Rusty has mixed feelings about meeting Antonia, especially after she interviews one of the victims who survived. Without a doubt, she knows that Antonia is guilty; however, it is also thirty-nine years later. Being locked up for that length of time does not necessarily make one a better person, instead it might make her even less humane and more dangerous.
When Rusty and Antonia meet, they both have to overcome reservations that they have about each other. As far as Antonia knows, Rusty might be looking to write a story that will completely discredit any progress that she has made in her rehabilitation efforts. Knowing that she is despised also forces her to try to maintain a low profile.
When innocent people who were involved with either the victims or the trial start dying, the public looks to placing the guilt on Antonia. Because Antonia doesn't have perfect alibis, either she is guilty once again, or someone really knows her whereabouts. This situation really forces Rusty to tread carefully; however, in fairness to Antonia, she is honest about her concerns. Working hard to find out the truth, Rusty also puts herself in danger. In the end, the shocking truth is discovered.
"A Murderer's Mind" is so well written and thought out that it would be easy to believe that it was based upon a true story. As the author Patricia Turner takes us into Rusty's mind, we get to see what is happening through her eyes, and share her feelings of both hope and fear. I appreciated that Rusty was very honest with herself about looking at both sides of the situation. Having interviewed a victim and a former cult member who still seemed hooked on the cult leader definitely gives Rusty cause for concern. But also having the chance to get to know the murderer and see how she reacts to things that are happening in the real world, Rusty is able to form her own opinions and pray that she is correct.
I really enjoyed this story and think that fans of true crime and mysteries will also enjoy "A Murderer's Mind."