Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: True Crime
Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words
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A veteran crime reporter who spent forty years on staff at the Buffalo News, more recently Matt Gryta has been reporting on cases he’s covered on E! Entertainment Television and the Investigation Discovery cable network.
“The first comprehensive nonfiction account of the killing spree, investigation and trials of notorious serial killer, Joseph G. Christopher. Reporter Matt Gryta, who covered the case as a news reporter, provides a detailed history of the 22 Caliber Killer, who terrorized unsuspecting victims in Buffalo, Rochester and Manhattan during his 1980 murder campaign.”
True crime books are an interesting genre in that they can cover different aspects of a crime or series of crimes: the actual crimes and community reaction, the investigation and identification of the culprits, or the legal battle from arrest to ultimate resolution, and sometimes the aftermath. Which parts get covered or the most focus varies and different readers will be drawn to different approaches. (An especially notorious crime spree can even generate multiple books with many of them selling well; for example, the plethora of books about Ted Bundy.)
Joey 22 is the story of serial killer Joseph “Joey” Christopher, who targeted black men in New York State in 1980. As the author explains in the prologue, there were multiple serial killers targeting blacks across the country in this period and for a time it wasn’t clear whether they were related. (The mention of one of these who killed two black men just a couple blocks away from my home that same year grabbed my attention early.)
While the crimes and investigation get some coverage, the majority of what is covered in this book is story of Christopher’s post-arrest trip through the legal system. For those who enjoy reading about legal maneuvering (yes, I’m one of those), it was an interesting read in that regard with some unique aspects to the case, specifically how he related to his primary attorneys in Buffalo and how that played out over time.
However, there were also several technical issues that bothered me with this book. Although each one minor, the number of issues I saw that weren’t caught during proofreading and copyediting was enough to irritate me as were some random hyphens that shouldn’t have been in the ebook version. There was also a tendency to repeat background information that we’d already been told about earlier as well as give us background that arguably did nothing to enhance the story at hand. One example was a story about a judge who had been arrested. Although not important to the main story, it added a bit of color or characterization, so the tangent might be justifiable. However, later in the book one of the judge’s former employees who was arrested over the same incident made an appearance and we were treated to a repeat of the same tangent.
This book will possibly appeal to some true crime fans, especially anyone from New York who remembers when these murders were happening. For others, it depends on your patience with tangents, repeats, and minor technical issues.
Too many proofreading and copyediting misses for me. These were exacerbated by an issue with randomly hyphenated words in the ebook version. Near the end of the ebook version I received there was also a long section of text near the end that was repeated verbatim three times in a row.
Rating: ** Two Stars