Welcome to another installment of a collaboration between the Chicago Review of Books and the Your Favorite Book podcast. Malavika Praseed, frequent CHIRB contributor and podcast host, seeks to talk to readers and writers about the books that light a fire inside them. What’s your favorite book and why?
This week’s guest is Dean Jobb, true crime writer and fellow Chicago Review of Books reviewer. His most recent book, THE CASE OF THE MURDEROUS DR CREAM, tracks the rise and fall of one of the 19th century’s most notorious serial killers, and perhaps one of its most unknown. Thomas Neill Cream, Canadian by birth but known for his crimes across several country borders, used and abused his powers as a medical doctor to murder nearly a dozen people, often through poisoning. And that’s just what we know. Jobb takes us through how this evil figure came to be, how societal standards of the day allowed him to dodge the law, and what interesting twists and turns ultimately led to his demise.
For this episode, Dean stayed true to his true crime roots and chose the 2017 work KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON by renowned journalist David Grann. This book delves into the Reign of Terror in the Osage community, and how one of America’s wealthiest peoples came to be targets of white supremacy, unprecedented violence, and paternalistic policies. Grann weaves in the bungled investigation, along with its close ties to the early FBI, and creates a fascinating tale that educates, shocks, and leaves us scratching our heads. This is a story that’s far from over and one that leaves you thinking.
Dean also shares his wisdom on what makes an excellent true crime book, the role of a nonlinear narrative, and whether the public fascination with high-profile murder cases has really changed over the years. There are spoilers for Dean’s book when it comes to the narrating of Dr. Cream’s life, but we leave KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON intact to preserve the mystery. In the end both books are certainly worth the read.
Listen to this episode of Your Favorite Book at the link above, and stay tuned for more episodes with other writers in the weeks to come. If you enjoy this episode, check out other episodes of Your Favorite Book on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or other major podcast platforms.