A Rip in Heaven: When rape and killings visited an Irish-American family

Jeanine Cummins's memoir traces a violent crime in Missouri and its aftermath

Jeanine Cummins embarked on writing this memoir with her brother but he pulled out believing he couldn’t endure yet more exposure for the tragedy that almost destroyed his life.

Jeanine Cummins embarked on writing this memoir with her brother but he pulled out believing he couldn’t endure yet more exposure for the tragedy that almost destroyed his life.

Crime has always sold newspapers and books. Now, with podcasts, streaming services, and terrestrial TV all vying to flog gore these days, the satisfying story arc of crime and punishment is having a moment like never before.

The draw is still the same tawdry old thing it ever was: vicarious thrill meets catharsis. And this, perhaps, is all well and good when it comes to crime fiction – despite its creepy obsession with female victims. But it’s quite another matter when the story is true and involves real families who must live through the most tragic circumstances in the full glare of sensationalist media coverage, the sort of coverage than can go on for decades after the fact.

The Irish Times
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