1. What are you currently reading? Helter Skelter, The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi. I don't recall learning about Charles Manson. He's just always been part of our collective consciousness. An ugly, evil part, but his presence has been ongoing for 48 years. People who weren't born in 1969 are familiar with what he did.
Yet there's a great deal about his crimes that I never knew. I trust Bugliosi's version of these events. First of all, he prosecuted Manson back in the day. If that doesn't give him cred, what does? And secondly, I really appreciated his book about the JFK assassination, Reclaiming History. I knew from that massive tome that this author could handle graphic material without sensationalizing it.
A prosecutor at heart, Bugliosi is all about justice for the victims. And so I've learned a great deal about those murdered back in the summer of 1969. For example, Abigail Folger, the coffee heiress whose body was left on sprawled on the front lawn, was so much more than a rich party girl. She worked with the underprivileged and battled depression, in no small part because she felt that society's ills were so big that she could never do enough to cure them. "The suffering gets under my skin," she said. In therapy to get control of her emotions and her life, she was seriously thinking of breaking up and breaking away from her boyfriend, Roman Polanski's friend, Wojciech Frykowski. If only she'd taken that decisive action a week, or even a day, earlier, perhaps she wouldn't have died with Frykowski at Sharon Tate's home. And Rosemary LaBianca, who was murdered the next night, was a woman of substance whose story is often lost. I've learned that after escaping a bad marriage, she started a dress shop that grew into a boutique. Women entrepreneurs were not that common in the late 1950s, but her independent business was successful enough to support her two children, and then she made savvy investments with the rest, growing her portfolio until she was a self-made millionaire. She married Leno LaBianca, a man who was very good to her and her children. Instead of being able to enjoy the happy ending she worked for, she was slaughtered in her own home.
Bugliosi doesn't let these two women remain footnotes in the "Sharon Tate murders." He doesn't allow them to be overshadowed by The Manson Family. And for that reason, I really applaud this book.
2. What did you recently finish reading? Mrs. Jeffries Learns the Trade by Emily Brightwell. OK, I didn't finish this book. I merely put it down. I'm sad to report it didn't really engage me, and I always feel guilty when I abandon a book.
Oh well. This volume is a three-story anthology. Perhaps after time passes, I'll pick it up again and give mystery #2 a shot.