Abandoned Prayers: The Incredible True Story of Murder, Obsession, and Amish Secrets
Author Gregg Olsen
Abandoned Prayers has been sitting on my kindle for literal years. Ages ago I read Starvation Heights by author Gregg Olsen and loved it. It’s a fascinating story unlike any other true crime book I’ve ever read.
Unfortunately, every other book I’ve tried by Olsen has fallen flat ever since.
Abandoned Prayers is the true story of an Amish man turned outcast single father turned homosexual playboy turned murderer. That should be really interesting. But this 400 page book is freaking dull.
I think I figured out why I am almost always disappointed in true crime books. They’re not edited to be concise and interesting stories. If the author comes across information at all pertinent to the case they include it in the book. It doesn’t matter if it’s redundant or boring it’s true so it’s in there.
Here’s a tip for any true crime authors: just because you uncover a new piece of information doesn’t mean that information needs to be used.
In the specific case of Abandoned Prayers, Olsen goes into great detail cataloging our suspect’s relationship history. It was like reading the parts of the bible that just list name after name of who begat who. Unimportant, uninteresting, skim over it!
Yet a full third of the book is dedicated to going through every man that he possibly slept with. I get it, he was gay. Started Amish, became gay, that’s just really not that shocking anymore. Also, I don’t think it was completely necessary to continually mention the size of his penis. How does that affect the murders exactly?
True crime is a very difficult genre to get right. People want their crime stories to be spicy and scandalous, maybe even gory. But you also can’t embellish too much without losing respectability. It’s a fine line. Olsen did it well once, and I haven’t seen it again.
As far as I can tell, because I’m not going to do a whole bunch of fact checking and research on this case I don’t care enough about, the book is well documented and comes off as truthful. Don’t @ me for not researching either, I’m reading a true crime book so that I don’t have to!
It hits all of the chronological points of the case and includes a ton of details if that’s what you’re into. If you like more meticulous nonfiction then this book might be your style.
It sounds exploitative of me to say that I wish I had been more entertained by this book about a child being neglected to death. Maybe entertained isn’t the word I’m looking for. All I know is that reading it was a chore that I didn’t want to finish but I did learn a couple things along the way.
2.5/5 falsified letters ✉✉✉
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