Author and prosecutor of Manson, Vincent Bugliosi, took on the case the world is still buzzing about 45 years later.
Helter Skelter meticulously details the crime scenes, pre-trial investigations and the trial against Manson and the Family.
What I loved: Helter Skelter may be one of the best true crimes books I’ve read thus far. It is sickeningly fascinating and some chapters often led to my heart beating so fast, I thought I had run a marathon. Bugliosi does a phenomenal job using a story-telling narration as opposed to simply stating facts. The book is often extremely fast-paced with a tendency to keep you turning the pages despite what time it is, day or night.
Helter Skelter includes a thorough background of each Family member and Manson himself including his troubled past and all of his previous criminal history. One question I had throughout the book, is at which time did Manson evolve from a pimp and car thief to full-on criminal mastermind and murderer? However, to my delight, this question is answered during the hunt to finding the motive for the Manson slayings.
Bugliosi is unbelievably detailed and is able to set certain scenes so authentically, you truly believe you are participating in the investigation and trial as well. He is also able to reference the law and other legal jargon in such a way, the readers can easily understand the terms with or without having a legal background.
Some of the most shocking parts of the book include Bugliosi exposing the LAPD and other investigating units for their severe lack of accurate police work. Like so many high-profile cases in our country, shoddy police work seems to be the root cause of wrongful convictions or lazy investigations. You won’t believe just how much evidence the LAPD had at their immediate disposal and simply ignored or didn’t deem important.
Due to Bugliosi being the prosecutor and the author, I feel the reader is privy to information you may not be able to read in such detail elsewhere. Helter Skelter includes direct testimony from witnesses during the trial along with pre-trial interviews and off-the-record recollections.
Helter Skelter is a complete overview into the Manson murders and details just how much control Manson had over his followers.
What I didn’t: In all truthfulness, I would have given this book a 9.5 for 10 if it weren’t for a few things…
Now this is certainly just my opinion, and others may totally disagree, but I feel the book was a tad too long. If you’re the kind of true crime lover that needs every single detail, then I’m sure you won’t mind the length. Me, on the other hand, I feel some details could have been left out without tainting the understanding of the case or the events in their entirety. Some pages I chose to skip around because I felt I was being bombarded with information that seemed to have little to no relevance in the big picture.
Also, at times it was very troublesome to keep up with all of the characters. Between the Family members, family members of the deceased, witnesses, detectives, lawyers, and so on, I was often confused about who was who. For those thinking about reading Helter Skelter, I highly recommend reading the e-book version as it has a complete glossary of every person mentioned in the book along with other insightful information in the Book Extras section.
Lastly, the only other aspect I wish the book had included more of, was the psychology specifically involving Manson and his ability to completely control so many followers. The book touches loosely on this, but I would have liked to learn more.
Helter Skelter on Goodreads
If you're interested in Charles Manson and the Family, I strongly encourage you to also watch Aquarius on NBC.
Images for this review obtained by…