Posts Tagged murder

Lifetime TV Movie review: Amanda Knox– Murder on Trial in Italy

Who wasn’t riveted by the case of “Foxy Knoxy,” the American exchange student in Perugia, Italy accused of murdering her housemate? It had it all: kinky sex, an Italian boyfriend, a brutal stabbing. What we knew little about was Amanda [Hayden Panettiere] herself and how she spent her time in Italy prior to this sensational case. Is Amanda guilty or has she been framed up by her boyfriend, the police, circumstantial evidence and shoddy police work. Amanda Knox. Murder on Trial in Italy leaves everything really open-ended so the viewer is wondering if Amanda was involved in her housemate Meredith’s vile murder.

The movie considers the two months before the murder. It shows how Amanda got along with the housemate Meredith [Amanda Fernando Stevens] as well as how she met and started to spend much of her free time with Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito [Paolo Romio]. There’s one point where Amanda and Meredith fight because Meredith accuses her of not cleaning up in the apartment enough. But then at another time, Amanda confides in Meredith that she met a guy that looks like Harry Potter and they were from completely different cultures but she felt it was destiny. Once Amanda’s arrested, her mom [Marcia Gay Harden] flies in from Seattle. Marcia Gay Harden is always good in any role and this is no different. She’s strong and never takes no for an answer as Amanda’s distraught mother.

Hayden Panettiere [I Love You, Beth Cooper, Heroes] does a commendable job in making viewers completely confused as to Amanda’s innocence or guilt. It’s a serious role for her and allows her to show range in the conflicted, often detached nature of Amanda, who still remains a mystery to most Americans. As my mom said [she’s my Lifetime movie-watcher companion]: “This girl is a little strange about it all.” As Amanda, Hayden uses facial expressions and wordplay to make us wonder if Amanda was there or not while Meredith was being raped and stabbed. Of the 40 cuts, bruises and stab wounds [including the lethal severed carotid artery] found on Meredith’s body, the police say, “It’s almost like they were toying with her.” Some of the DNA didn’t get collected for weeks. The crime scene seemed corrupted and there’s much circumstantial evidence but as most Americans know, Amanda Knox is sitting in an Italian jail right now.

Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy leaves viewers with many questions about Amanda’s role in her housemate’s murder, while providing insight into Amanda’s unusual behavior and nonchalant personality.

Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy premieres Monday, February 21 at 9PM ET/PT on Lifetime.

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book review: FACE TIME

Author: Hank Phillippi Ryan
ISBN: 978-0778327189
Pages: 288
Publisher: Mira (August 1, 2009)
Category: mystery
Review source: author
Rating: 4.5/5

Two glasses of champagne later, I high-five the air as I trudge up the last flight of stairs to my apartment, the third floor of a restored old Mount Vernon Square brownstone flat of Beacon Hill. My live shot was a success, we have our ratings story, and we’re going to get an innocent person out of prison. Not bad for one day.

A young woman sits in a jail cell at Framingham-MCI [the oldest women’s prison in the U.S.—these books aren’t just engaging but very educational] in Massachusetts convicted of killing her husband. Investigative reporter Charlotte “Charlie” McNally gets a tip that the Constitutional Justice Project [CJP] believes Dorinda Keeler Sweeney may be innocent and wants Charlotte to help on the case. This will mean huge ratings for Channel 3 and maybe another Emmy for the hard-working reporter. FACE TIME is the second Charlotte McNally novel and Phillippi Ryan falls into an easy-going groove with this one. The characters are becoming more developed and fascinating. Charlotte now has a boyfriend, prep school teacher Josh, who lives in Vermont [and she has to deal with becoming friendly with his 8-year-old daughter].

The best part is the little details that Phillippi Ryan adds. Charlotte might be a top notch reporter but she’s worried about losing her job to someone younger, she’s dealing with a mother who’s constantly telling her not to eat and to get face work done, and the pressure of constantly pulling in an Emmy-worthy story certainly adds stress to her life. But she has great friends and takes it in stride. The title FACE TIME has a dual meaning: her mom is in the hospital recovering from a face lift and Charlotte struggles each day for that bigger, better story than every other news station and newspaper in Boston gets. She has to be first. What seems like a slam dunk turns out to be a huge challenge for Charlotte and her sidekick producer Franklin. No one wants the truth to come out. There have been cover ups that could cost political positions and if Dorinda were to be set free, someone else has to pay for the crime. But who? During the investigation, Charlotte gets attacked, verbally threatened, and the station comes under fire. But nothing will deter Charlotte from uncovering the truth once she’s started to put some of the pieces together and these pieces really make an absorbing picture. One that will be complicated for the community.

FACE TIME provides the reader with a whodunit supreme with everyone under suspicion from the daughter of the accused to the involvement of a politician to an ex-boyfriend. Charlotte grows on you and makes a compelling and often funny [“my hair looks the same on both sides”] crime solver. She’s independent, strong and fierce. Phillippi Ryan keeps the reader flipping pages and asking questions right up to the end. FACE TIME is a thrill to read.

note of apology to the Emmy-award winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan: Sorry I even questioned the accuracy of ANY piece of information you would put into one of your books. Of course you’d be right and I’d be wrong. JOUR 101 reminder for me, look it up and THEN email the author. I was born in Concord, Mass and have 04 social security. But you don’t have to get social security cards immediately and although we lived in tony Westport, Conn., my mother struggled to support us because I had a deadbeat dad who never could keep a job. She told me she couldn’t afford to get SS cards right off and probably mailed away at one time to get all three (for me, and my two brothers). She was born in Boston and has 01. I learned about my past as sad as it was. Full circle for me, I started off with nothing and have nothing now but a great education. How fitting.

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book review: PRIME TIME

Author: Hank Phillippi Ryan
ISBN: 978-0778327172
Pages: 288
Publisher: Mira (July 1, 2009)
Category: mystery
Review source: author
Rating: 4/5

This is all for the good, I attempt to reassure myself. Melanie suspects Brad was on the trail of . . . something. Now the three of us are going to continue his quest, and if we’re lucky (as we often are), we’ll dig up the journalistic treasure at the end of the trail. Brad would have wanted it that way. After all, he sent me that e-mail. And it must be important to Melanie, too, or she wouldn’t have let us come back to her house on the very day her husband’s body was found.

PRIME TIME introduces us to 46-year-old investigative television reporter Charlotte “Charlie” McNally, an indomitable, uncompromising, clever, and dedicated reporter. She’s not without her faults and that makes her someone everyone can relate to: she worries about her career [aka the next big story], aging in a field of young, blonde whipper-snappers [television journalism can be cruel like that], her lack of a romantic life and being over 45.

Writing with riveting details, Emmy and Agatha Award-winning television reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, Hank Phillippi Ryan deftly allows readers an all-access pass into the cutthroat world of television journalism where you’re only as good as your current story. PRIME TIME contains a multitude of twists to keep you guessing right to the last page. Ryan succeeds in crafting quite the page-turner.

Charlie is determined and scrappy and instantly someone you want as your friend. She’s that type of woman who would go above and beyond to help you solve or fix any problem that you have and that’s a true blue, special friend. She’s devoted to her producer Franklin. Charlie’s investigative journalism skills prove exceptional on this mysterious case which begins with a strange email and turns into a case of corporate fraud, murder, and imminent danger to Charlie and Franklin as they pursue the truth. Not only is PRIME TIME a fantastic mystery but it provides a compelling insider’s view of television journalism. PRIME TIME is the first in the Charlotte McNally series and I cannot wait to dig in to the next few novels to find out more about this layered, flawed journalist.

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DVD review: Midsomer Murders, Set 13

MidsomerMurdersTitle: Midsomer Murders, Set 13
Starring: John Nettles, Jason Hughes
Running time: 400 min.
MPAA: Not Rated
Release date: September 29, 2009
Studio: Acorn Media
Review source: Acorn Media
Rating: B+

Set in a fairly small English village where most people know each other, yet rural enough that you can hide out or manage discretion; Midsomer Murders pairs Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby [John Nettles] with a youthful protégée Detective Sergeant Ben Jones [Jason Hughes]. The series has that creepy vibe that the British mystery writers have mastered fairly well. It must have something to do with the rainy days and those long-standing traditions. Because behind those rolling fields and long driveways, flower-filled patches in the midst of the woods and lovely landscapes lies some strange behaviors, obsessions and truly evil doings. But Barnaby and Jones aim to get to the bottom of it all. As long-running as our Law & Order is here, Midsomer Murders has aired since 1997 in the UK. The series and mysteries are inspired by novelist Caroline Graham.

Four episodes are featured [I cannot say too much without giving anything away]:

Dance with the Dead

When a young man, Simon Bright, asphyxiates in a vintage automobile, Barnaby and Jones search for his enigmatic girlfriend, Laura Sharp. The scene, with romantic music, a bottle of wine and two wine glasses, looks like that of a Romeo and Juliet suicide pact but only the young man is found in the car. And he’s been whacked on the head. As the two detectives question the villagers, you think it’s going a certain way and then, surprise! Excellent detective work.

The Animal Within

This one starts out strong: Faith arrives from Philadelphia to visit her uncle. She’s greeted by the groundskeeper: “You’re supposed to be dead,” he exclaims. “What is the old badger up to now?” She then tells them all that no one in her family has seen Rex in 40 years. Rex had told everyone that Faith and her entire family had died in a plane crash. Now he’s disappeared. When Rex turns up dead with four different wills then everything begins to unravel and turn topsy-turvy, to say the least. Secrets about Rex are revealed and strange events occur. This is definitely my favorite of the bunch. So darkly secret and wickedly strange.

King’s Crystal

Shanghai, China. Two brothers. One dies in an explosion. He seems to have been the popular one among this wealthy King family. The family business? Oh, that cut-throat artisan glassworks. I like this one because the family is very posh. The Estate is gorgeous. I expect everyone to go off on a hunt (on horses—it’s Britain!). The kids are mad at mom. The business is not doing as well as one thought. This one is a bit slower paced.

The Axeman Cometh

Choice quote: “Gary, when I was 13 and welded to a pony and you’d fled Midsomer to become the new gormless ape on the rock scene we were still friends, right?”

This is a funny one. Aging heavy-metal rockers have taken over the town for the Midsomer music rock festival. They’re lounging around by a pool in shades and 70s attire– long hair, leather, flowy clothes. Barnaby reminisces about various concerts. He’s even looking through his old albums and playing air guitar. [Barnaby’s daughter: “Dad please try and maintain the gap between the generations.” The vibe sours though when someone is killing the rock stars.

Features: Caroline Graham biography and cast filmographies

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