“Murder of Innocence: The Tragic Life and Final Rampage of Laurie Dann” is a true crime novel documenting her life, the events that made her infamous, along with her ultimate death. The book is co-authored by Joel Kaplan, George Papajohn, and Eric Zorn. The Audiobook edition is performed by Gary Tiedemann. Laurie Dunn, if you were unaware, was one of the first people to attack an elementary school of children and adults in 1988. It is a powerfully tragic story involving mental illness, psychotic behavior, failures of law enforcement, and parents who remained in denial. If you are a person who enjoys crime documentaries or likes TV shows such as Forensic Files, I believe you will find this story and the audiobooks narration fascinating. At just over ten hours of audio, the book covers a large amount of information on this woman’s life.
I want to say up front that this is a rather dark and grim story, but remember is it retelling the actual events from her life. It amazes me how irrational Laurie Dunn appeared to be due to her mental illness and very deep bouts of depression. You see the effects through her senseless OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) behavior and senseless fears including superstitions and her continuous fear of people abandoning her; often they left because of her actions. We are given a view into how the medical industry tried to address her pain by prescribing medications and therapy; similar to what it does today. After this, she was left to work things out on her own which failed her and those she impacted. I found myself over and over shaking my head in disbelief at the number of lies, deception, and vindictive action of this one individual. You can see how her activity continued to spiral downward at an ever-increasing speed.
I found myself at times feeling sorry for her struggles and at other times despising her for the actions she took including the easy way out of her mess by taking her own life. The book can be quite emotional at times, and there is little or no humor. I found it fascinating the number of errors leading up to the final day. The lack of police involvement, the lack of effort from her doctors, and the ignorance of her parents. I know it is always easier to look back in hindsight, but this seems to have been so evident that I was amazed how long she got away with things she did. The detailed research that went into producing this work must have taken quite some time, and I’m happy the authors did it. The story was well laid out in a chronological order of events covering: her parents, her birth, her younger years, her teens, her marriage, her work, and the final events leading up to the tragedy which she is sadly remembered for.
For younger readers or parents, be aware that because this is a documentary including actual quotes or events, the book contains some strong language, sexual subject matter, and some quite graphic scenes of violence involving shootings, poisonings, and the taking of revenge upon her supposed enemies. There are also a few sections that would be considered to be anti-religion in nature directed toward both Christian and Jewish faiths; again, these are not included by the authors to be offensive but simply providing the facts to help the reader understand.
Let me turn to the audiobook’s narration performed by Gary Tiedemann. Because this is a piece of non-fiction narrative, there is no voicing of multiple characters or dramatization in his narration. Mr. Tiedemann expertly reads the story as if you were reading it yourself. His voice is clear and well-paced. I will say his voice is a bit deep and mellow which adds to the emotional parts of the book quite well. The audio itself was very clean and clear of any issues or artifacts. Not a very easy book to narrate, but he did a very good job with it.
In summary, if you at all like true crime or biography books, I think you will find this one quite captivating. Again, it is not for everyone due to its inclusion of strong language, sexual topics, and actual events containing graphic violence. However, if you are able to put these aside while learning of an actual historic event, I would recommend you pick up the book and learn more about this tragedy. The book is not intended to bring attention to Laurie herself, but more focused on the event leading to the event. The authors include a prologue section that does a good job of closing up all the unanswered events such as the victims lives afterwards and even some similar events that took place a few years later. I liked that they included this extra detail in the book.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.