Tag Archives: True Crime

Book Review: Charles Manson and the Killing of Shorty Shea

Charles Manson and the Killing of Shorty Shea

By Edwin Colin

with Deb Silva

As an eight-year-old, Edwin Colin, the author of this book, knew Shorty. It was 1953 when Colin’s father wars hired to be a full-time foreman at Corriganville, a Movie Ranch in nearby Simi Valley. Corriganville was owned by the famous stunt rider, Crash Corrigan, who was also and friend of Shorty Shea. So begins Colin’s fascination with the man who will be killed by Charles Manson and his followers right before the infamous  Tate and LaBianca murders.

Charles “Shorty” Shea was many things in his life. He was a horse wrangler, stuntman, husband, a U. S. Military Veteran and a victim of Charles Manson and his Family. Shorty wanted to be an actor in Westerns, but he seemed to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. By the time he made enough connections in the business, Westerns were not getting the funding to be produced as audiences no longer flocked to them.

He spent his last years working on the Spahn Ranch. He took care of the livestock, did some Wild West shows for dwindling crowds and had the unfortunate fate of meeting Charles Manson. Manson and his Family basically moved into Spahn Ranch and took it over. The owner, George Spahn was getting older and was nearly blind by the time Manson and his followers descended upon his property. For whatever reason, he let them stay.

Some say that Shorty’s death was a direct result of not ignoring Charles Manson. Not one to ever back down from confrontation, he did not like Manson and everyone knew it. Sadly, his stubbornness was most likely the reason Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Bruce Davis and Steve Grogan murdered him in cold blood on August 26, 1969.

Colin weaves a sordid insider look at the murder of Shorty Shea and subsequent deaths of Sharon Tate and the LaBiancas. With Deb Silva, the duo uncovered death certificates, autopsy results and firsthand accounts of the horrific crimes committed by the Manson Family. The small facts that surrounded the Spahn Ranch and those that lived there are fascinating to me. There are connections to famous actors, TV shows and events that most have heard of, but from a different, closer perspective. For example, one of men that participated in Shea’s death is now out of prison and another one is up for parole this year – but has dementia.

Charles Manson and the Killing of Shorty Shea is an entertaining work of non-fiction. The book is fascinating, but at times disjointed. There was a bit of repetition, as the author seemed to give the facts ahead of the timeline, then repeated with more detail later. Overall, it was an interesting insider look into the lives of the Manson Family as well as Shorty Shea and all of the people they encountered during this brief period of history.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from  Reedsy Discovery (https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/charles-manson-and-the-killing-of-shorty-shea-edwin-colin) in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor’s Story – A Gripping True Crime Book

Anatomy of a Kidnapping,  Anatomy of a KidnappingA Doctor’s Story

By Steven L. Berk M.D.

248 pages

Berk begins the fascinating account of his own kidnapping with the theory of why the agitated gun toting kidnapper did not kill him. He feels his medical history and time he spent with patients and in hospitals may have given him some tools to fall back on when he faced death at the hands of an unstable, drug addicted man. He mentions this in an almost casual way, not in arrogance, but more puzzlement. He is thankful for living through his ordeal, but doesn’t have any doubts that it could have gone bad in an instant.

The story is told in four intertwined parts. Berg gives the reader an insight to a young doctor’s life by sharing true events and encounters he had with great patients and odd patients. He doesn’t pull any punches or expound as to his greatness. He is frank and honest when telling of mistakes he made when treating some of the cases throughout his career. Everyone makes mistakes, but when doctors do, it can mean someone dies.

We follow his life through the hospitals he’s worked in up to his current assignment in Texas. From Arizona to Boston then to Amarillo, TX Berk keeps learning and growing as a doctor. He always wanted to become a missionary doctor, but during his residency at Boston City Hospital he began to realize he really wanted to focus on academic medicine. He also became interested in infectious disease and clinical research.

When a  medical school classmate asked him to serve as the chairman of the advisory board of an Amarillo medical school, Berk agreed. He loved the challenge and the goals of Texas Tech, and felt the he could help. With his leadership, the campus grew and improved. Berk did the same. He moved his family to Amarillo and settled in to a rewarding career.

The fateful morning in March 2005 was like any other. Like any other incident of this magnitude, he could look back and say he should have done something differently and it never would have happened. Life is like that, one little pebble can begin a landslide. Seeing it from the doctor’s perspective is haunting, knowing his fear for his family and his life on that Sunday morning puts the reader in the passenger seat of the car with him.

he third part of the story we hear along the way is that of the kidnapper. Jack Lindsey Jordan was born to a wealthy TX family, but had a frightful temper as he grew older. He had spent 10 years in prison on a felony charge just before the kidnapping. We see the series of events that led up to kidnapping unfold as the book progresses.

The last part to weave throughout the chapters is the actual court proceedings as documented from the trial. So you know in the beginning that Berk has been kidnapped, Jordan is caught and goes to trial. It is fascinating to read the account from the victim’s perspective.

Berk acknowledges that in the end, life is just not fair sometimes. He questions why he was not harmed during his ordeal and other people are shot. There are no answers, only speculations and luck.

This memoir reads like a fast paced fiction novel by a New York Times best-selling author. Berk’s ability to bring all four parts of this story – his history, the kidnapping, the kidnapper’s history as well as the court documents together in a page-turning novel makes this book a must-read.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

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