The Michigan Murders
Open Road Integrated Media
Ypsilanti Michigan, 1960s. A serial killer began to target young girls in a college town. Reminiscent of something along the lines of Ted Bundy, the young coeds were all discovered dead after seemingly disappearing into thin air.
There were several factors of this story that drew me in and made it more than your typical true crime fare.
First off, the setting was intriguing to me. College campuses during the 1960s had become very liberating places. This was right before tides started to turn, before crimes like that of the Manson family made people become wary. The climate was one of safety and trust, and more than one victim was killed after hitchhiking with her killer, despite not knowing them at all.
MINOR SPOILER: Another interesting avenue was the killer himself. The fact that he ended up being more clean cut is what reminded me of Ted Bundy, and that drew my interest. It is frightening when you think that one of your own peers could brutalize you in such a way. I think we all expect cold blooded killers to look and act the part, and that wasn’t the case with this group of murders.
As far as true crime goes, The Michigan Murders wasn’t anything especially innovative or new, but it was well written and kept my attention. I read it after reading Maggie Nelson’s memoir The Red Parts, about the trial of her aunt Jane Mixer’s killer. Jane was originally included on the list of victims known as the Michigan Murders, and this book was originally published long before her true killer was discovered. The two books make great companion pieces.
I had two minor quibbles with The Michigan Murders. The first was that everyone in the book, including the victims and the killer, were given pseudonyms. I am not sure why that was done, as I have read a good amount of true crime and can’t think of any other true crime book where unilaterally all names were changed. It’s a minor issue, but I like to look up the various people on Google as I read to get a good visual in my mind (this book had no accompanying photos), so that made it more difficult and forced me to do a bit more research.
I also wish that the current published had added an update or epilogue (other editions may include a recent epilogue, I’m not sure). This book was originally published almost 40 years ago and no update has been written since the original publication. It would have been interesting to know what was going on with the victim’s families and the killer, not to mention the Jane Mixer angle could have been discussed.
Overall, if you are a fan of true crime, this is a solid read.
I received an egalley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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