10.02.2017

Helter Skelter Book Club: Week 1


So while this book looks incredibly long and intimidating I'm actually finding it to be very approachable and enjoyable! How's everyone else doing with it?

I will say that I have very little knowledge about what actually happened during these crimes. I've heard things from my parents, the pig farmers, the LaBianca murders, Helter Skelter, all that... but I've never actually looked it up/watched any movies/read anything factual about it... so this is sort of a mystery novel for me too in a sense.

I like Bugliosi's writing style so far. I liked the way it started with what everyone heard... (I will say I laughed at Susan Knott hearing gun shots and going back to bed... this would be 100% me... Meg and I once watched someone get hit by a car on his bike and we wanted to drive home before our McFlurry's melted so we left...). I also find the descriptions to be incredibly specific and detailed. I especially liked him calling the crime scene "a human slaughterhouse'.

I have found the policework so far to be incredibly interesting. For one, one of their top theories was a drug party where someone freaks out and kills everyone... is this a THING? I have never been scared of a friend getting high and KILLING ME but maybe I ought to start... I also liked the puzzle piece analogy that was used to describe how crimes are solved. The public often thinks the police finds clues and puts them together like a puzzle but how in reality, it's like finding clues to many different puzzles, none of which has all the pieces. It must be downright infuriating for cops.

A cool fact I learned from this section is that the New York Times rarely reports crime on it's front page. Is this still true does anyone know? It's very cool of them if so...

11 comments:

  1. I'm enjoying the book so far as well ... I only knew what roughly happened with this crime so I'm excited to learn all of the details.

    I am honestly 100% shocked Meg didn't use the term "fragmentary ridges" since we both love to learn new terminology ... I will be using this in a sentence as much as possible for the remainder of this book club. "But did they find any FRAMENTARY RIDGES at the crime scene?"

    Another standout point for me was when they talked about how all of Los Angeles was flushing their drugs down the toilet. I remember Joan Didion wrote about this in one of her essays on the Manson trial ... about how terrified and paranoid everyone was in LA during this time. I can't image either because at this point it does seem like anyone could be a target, and how terrifying is that?

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  2. Hi!
    Loving that we are doing a true crime book as it's one of my favourite subjects. I just wanted to say I basically thought the crimes could have entirely been stopped or at least these people could possibly have been caught so much faster if the neighbour Mrs. Knott had just phoned the police lol. My favourite part about the book so far is how they go into such detail about the people who narrowly escaped the same fate as the murder victims and what could have happened to each.

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  3. Yes! It was so creepy when they talked about the one girl who declined going to the Tate party and how it was her SECOND brush with violent death... that she was almost apart of the "working girls murder." I can't help but think if these dumb ass police officers would just work together it would have been solved much sooner as well.

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  4. Yeah absolutely! It's wild how many times they let things slide that could have connected the cases so quickly.

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    1. especially the word PIG. who sees that at 3 different murders and goes, nah, unrelated...

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  5. So this is my first time being a part of this book club, and the reason for my joining was because true crime is my first love. My undergraduate degree is in criminology, and everything related to serial killers and twisted people like Charles Manson just intrigues me to no end.

    I've studied the Manson murders, and I've watched a couple documentaries (one of which featured Bugliosi's commentary throughout), so the essence of what happened isn't all that new to me. However, I was so pleasantly surprised by Bugliosi's writing style and the vivid detail by which he recounts the events. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised with the amount of factual detail given his profession as an attorney, but I really appreciate the manner in which he ties things together, but also offers very illustrative descriptions of things like the crime scene. I'm not sure if anyone else has Googled photos of the crime scene, but even if you haven't (or are too afraid to do so), the image you have in your head is very likely EXACTLY what you'd see in said photos. Suffice to say, Vincent Bugliosi is going to take us on a very visual ride by way of his articulate way with words.

    I was also quite surprised by the fact that had police only corroborated their reports with one another, they may have cracked all of this far sooner. I'd like to think that manner police departments have learned from these mistakes and contemporarily reach out and communicate often (and surely, the Internet and technology have made such communication far easier).

    I think what I found so terrifying (and what I have read inspired the movie The Strangers) was that picking the LaBianca house was just done at random by Manson. And it comes back to that line from the aforementioned horror movie: "Why are you doing this" to which the intruder answers "Because you were home." And that continues to send chills down my spine. If Folger, Frykowski, and Parent were not at Polanski's and Tate's home, they could have lived. Similarly, if Tate wasn't home that night, she too might have survived that intrusion.

    Anyway, this has been a lovely introduction to the book - albeit gruesome. Pleasantly surprised by the writing style, and I've read ahead, but I'm still equally as intrigued by the way things begin to unravel and fall into place all at once.

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    1. I had no idea about it inspiring The Strangers. I was just talking about it with some friends the other day and they mentioned that last line... It is so terrifying because it is so senseless.. People almost relax when they can find a theme.. like "the killer only attacks young blondes" or something. I love the technical writing too, especially since I didn't know too many details about the case.

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    2. I've never seen this movie (I hate to be scared) but how fucked up eh??? It's also sadder for the families when it's random too I think...

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  6. This is awesome, I've never done a book club before. Probably explains why I am days late to discuss, har har.
    I am also new to the full story of the Manson murders, so like Meg said, its kind of a mystery novel at the same time. Deadly.
    I would also agree that I was slightly daunted by the size of the book and sometimes a lot of names and dates can get confusing (especially not being familiar at all with the case) however the writing style contains all this info and is very well detailed but is not overwhelming. I actually find it pretty engaging. The cast of characters at the start of the book has helped me a couple times already for back tracking purposes.
    How frustrating is it to be able to look back and see clear as day who and where police needed to be talking to but they couldn't put 2+2 together because no one talked to one another!!!!
    One thing is for sure, these were some friggin brutal and vicious murders. I find myself reminding myself "THIS HAPPENED. THIS IS REAL." Absolutely terrifying. I can't wait until Manson is introduced and we can start to see how all of this came to be.

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    1. YES I have to keep reminding myself that this actually fucking happened too ... it honestly does seem like something only in a movie.
      That's the problem I'm having too ... I'm so annoyed with these dumbass cops but also I understand that hindsight is 20/20 and that if I was in their position it may not be so clear as it is to us decades later.. I am also sometimes totally lost with the people involved .. they all have like 3 different aliases. The only one I can keep straight right now is Susan Atkins / Sadie Mae Glutz

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    2. I feel honestly so bad for cops when shit like this happens though like think of the pressure... and one wrong decision and you're down a completely wrong rabbit hole.

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