• Savage Appetites

  • Four True Stories of Women, Crime and Obsession
  • By: Rachel Monroe
  • Narrated by: Jayme Mattler
  • Length: 8 hrs and 27 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (161 ratings)

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Savage Appetites

By: Rachel Monroe
Narrated by: Jayme Mattler
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Publisher's Summary

A “necessary and brilliant” (NPR) exploration of our cultural fascination with true crime told through four “enthralling” (The New York Times Book Review) narratives of obsession.

In Savage Appetites, Rachel Monroe links four criminal roles - detective, victim, defender, and killer - to four true stories about women driven by obsession. From a frustrated and brilliant heiress crafting crime-scene dollhouses to a young woman who became part of a Manson victim’s family, from a landscape architect in love with a convicted murderer to a Columbine fangirl who planned her own mass shooting, these women are alternately mesmerizing, horrifying, and sympathetic. 

A revealing study of women’s complicated relationship with true crime and the fear and desire it can inspire, together these stories provide a window into why many women are drawn to crime narratives - even as they also recoil from them. Monroe uses these four cases to trace the history of American crime through the growth of forensic science, the evolving role of victims, the Satanic Panic, the rise of online detectives, and the long shadow of the Columbine shooting. Combining personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media in the 20th and 21st centuries, Savage Appetites is a “corrective to the genre it interrogates” (The New Statesman), scrupulously exploring empathy, justice, and the persistent appeal of crime. 

©2019 Bright Bell LLC. All rights reserved. (P)2019 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Editor's Pick

So that’s why I’m like this…
"I’ve been fascinated by true tales of the dark & macabre variety for as long as I can remember, but I have to admit, there are times when I didn’t feel particularly good about sharing that fact. Outwardly, I think I’m a pretty cheery person (fellow Editors, don’t @ me), so what draws me and so, so many other women into such dark stories? Enter Rachel Monroe, who had the very same question about herself. She presents four fascinating, sometimes deeply disturbing, tales of four women who also devoted their lives to crime in very different ways: from the famed forensic miniaturist Frances Lee Glessner to the landscaper who fell in love with an incarcerated man on Death Row. Intertwining these tales with her own observations and experiences, she offers intriguing, if not perfectly comprehensive (because what’s life without a little mystery?) theories about what makes true crime just to irresistible. I saw a lot of myself in this listen, for better or for worse, and Jayme Mattler’s narration is lively and familiar—like listening to a good friend gush about the current case they can’t get off their mind."
Sam D., Audible Editor

What listeners say about Savage Appetites

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A bit disappointed..

The book starts off strong but it seemed as if she should have developed her ideas more before publishing. I almost felt as if this was more of an excellent draft than a complete piece. It ends on a very unsatisfying note, as well. It seems like a hastily wrapped up ending.

SPOILER ALERT: The main problem with this book is that she spend way too little time going into the psychological dynamics at work when discussing how these women are identifying / relating to true crime. The story that she does this the best is the last one but the point that could be made with that case is marred by her overlong attention to the details in the letters between her and her accomplice (you don’t even find out what she thought after her boyfriend killed himself and their plot was stopped).

Another weak point: the author spends large sections of the book including things that, though very interesting, are never quite related back towards the main points of the chapter.

She introduces an excellent point, such as women getting into true crime so they feel they can be in control of frightening feelings of victim-hood...but then doesn’t really explore that in detail. She talks about women identifying with violent men as a way to work out their own vengeful feeling via proxy...but then doesn’t really develop that enough either.
Also, the “experiment” she talks about in the end sounds like bullshit. If anything, I would expect the women to try something in which they turn the tables. Otherwise, it sounds like taking a self-defense class in which you only get the crap kicked out of you but never learn how to defend yourself.

I wanted her to spend a little more time equating what the (mostly) white, middle-class and above young men from “good” families with women who also came from a similar background have in common. All of these women have something in common with their male counterparts.



5 people found this helpful

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Overly Liberal opinion piece

If you hate Trump as much as this author, you’ll love this book. I’ve heard more blame put on our President than on the criminals and rapists themselves. The chapter about the thumbnail crime scenes is very nice, but nothing you can’t find with a few minutes on Google.
I’m not sure why authors feel the need to alienate half of their potential readers. Why write a book about true crime and put far too much emphasis on one sided political opinion?
I’ll be returning this trash.

4 people found this helpful

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Ugh.

Disappointed. Could have been interesting, instead author’s self-indulgent insertion in stories drowns book. Too bored to be bothered with inanity, I did not finish. Lots of eye rolling as I tried to get through it. Weird riffs such as mocking the phrase “innocent victims” and convoluting these stories with heavily biased politics. Offensive at times.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent for the true crime obsessed

I really enjoyed this. The readers voice fit perfectly with the story and was never distracting (this is often a turn off for me). I appreciated the self aware approach to the true crime phenomenon without condescension.
Rachel Monroe did such an incredible job researching these characters. People I was previously familiar with took on so much more depth and dimension. Well done!

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Wow

This book left me with alot to unpack, as far as how I feel about it.. It touches a bit on the darker side of when interest in true crime crosses that somewhat tenuous line into obsession. The last case titled, The Killer, was a particularly unsettling section to listen to. I do feel Munroe caught something here worth reading, it's fascinating and at times disturbing.

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Not what I expected

I thought that this book was going to be more about the obsession of true crime with some people. In a sense, it is, but not really. It’s more like 4(?) different stories that talks about certain cases that an individual was involved with. If that’s what you were expecting, you might enjoy this book. I was looking for a more broad, researched book about the underlying reason why people were obsessed with true crime.

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  • JD
  • 01-17-20

That Stephen King is a damn liar, Man.

I came to find this book through a recommendation by Stephen King. Naturally, I expect his recommendation to lead me to something compelling and creepy. Nope. Not this time. Turns out this is a boring listen, filled with the author's own experiences and obsession with crimes depicted in miniature models. I admit, I can see how (at the time) the models would be helpful for detective training, but it's hardly worth an entire book.

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Rambling and Repetitive

I was really disappointed that this book has little substance and a lot of filler. I thought the information of the Nutshell Miniatures was the only interesting part of the book. The profiles of the other women just seemed superficial.