book review: True Crime Addict by James Renner


Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Appreciated as always!

Absorbing, disturbing and absolutely unputdownable – this was one of the best ‘true crime’ novels I’ve ever read.

I should state as an aside that I’m a bit of a ‘missing persons’ buff. A macabre interest, I’m sure – but the subject has always fascinated me. Saddened me, of course, but fascinated me too. The notion of a person vanishing without a trace is just too intriguing and horrifying. It goes against our basic human instincts and responses – we want to always know where the people we love are. To imagine going to the grave not knowing – it’s beyond heartrending.

In True Crime Addict, journalist and novelist James Renner examines his obsession with serial killers, unexplained disappearances, and the baffling case of Maura Murray, who vanished from a snowy, lonely New Hampshire road in 2004. Tellingly, The Charley Project reports that “police do not suspect foul play was involved with her disappearance.”

Neither do I.

What will you believe? After reading True Crime Addict, you may feel differently than I did after finishing it, but I doubt it. I believe that ** SPOILERS ahead ….


Maura Murray chose to leave her life behind. Perhaps using a program that help abused women escape from their abusers. With her legal issues and what in my opinion seemed to be a strained relationship with her father, I think Maura decided to cut her losses and start anew. Not to mention the bizarre way her family reacted to Renner’s requests for interviews – closing ranks, etc, well, to me, it’s clear that something is odd here. There have been repeated sightings of her in Quebec and I think that’s likely where she is – hopefully happy and hopefully at peace with her decisions.

There may be a darker reason – and I think Renner suspects it as well, but I’m not going to speculate here, as it would be just that – speculation. Sure, all signs point toward it, but I would hope that if that is the case – that Maura has gotten help and that she is surrounded by people who love her.

Now off to buy Renner’s other books. His writing is crisp, intelligent, often funny and always engaging. I started reading this book this morning and just finished. Couldn’t and didn’t want to put it down.

3 thoughts on “book review: True Crime Addict by James Renner

  1. ReleaseTheCheese

    I’ll buy this book but with one caveat: James Renner offers a full refund in the event Maura is found to a victim of foul play. Seriously, it’s only fair. The problem is Renner wants to sell us this magical fairy tale based on skaky evidence that is circumstantial at best. There’s no evidence no matter how you look at it, so obviously a spin could be made in many different scenarios. Unfortunately with this one, the one scenario that will sell the most books is that an elusive runaway is still out there and maybe by volume 6 of the book we’ll have a promising lead on that. In the meantime I just wish someone wrote a book without an agenda solely about this girls dissapearence.


    1. Jen

      How is that “fair”? He’s presenting a hypothesis as to what he believes happened to Maura. He’s under no obligation to provide a refund if it turns out he was wrong. A theory is just that, a theory. It’s not a magical fairy tale – people run away to start new lives all of the time. There was a recent news story about a woman who walked out of her life decades ago, and has just been found living under a new name. She doesn’t have any interest in speaking with her children. It DOES happen. Not everything is a murder mystery.

      Not to mention that Renner does try to cover all sides of Maura’s disappearance – but he’s been thwarted at every turn by Maura’s family closing ranks and refusing to speak with him – led by her father. In the beginning of the book, Renner does believe he’s looking for a body. He even goes to try to find Maura’s remains. But over time, the evidence leads him down a different road. After reading about Maura, I believe the same as him – I believe she ran away and is alive somewhere. It’s the most logical conclusion IMO.


  2. Liz

    I’ll probably check the book out eventually. I too believe Maura is likely deceased, so I don’t necessarily agree with Renner’s thoughts on the disappearance. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly possible, but is it probable? Sure, people start new lives, incognito. However, to hear a documented account of someone doing so for 10+ years is undoubtedly an uncommon occurrence and nowhere near as frequent as homicides, suicides, accidental deaths etc. Not even remotely close. So with that said, I’m sure Renner weaves an interesting tale even if, in my opinion, its a long shot.


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