Midnight Son by James Dommek Jr.

Book Description:

Published: October 31, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

James Dommek, Jr., an Alaska Native writer and musician, sheds new light on a real-life mystery that pits Native American folklore against the US justice system. In the vast Alaskan Arctic, legend has it there once lived a mythic tribe—Iñukuns—that only existed in rumors and whispers. This changed forever when an actor-turned-fugitive, Teddy Kyle Smith, had an encounter that brought Iñukuns from myth to reality. Smith was an aspiring actor with a promising career until it all came quickly crashing down with a gunshot, a manhunt, bloodshed, and other frightful events.

The story of Smith’s tragic downfall has long haunted James Dommek, Jr., the great-grandson of the last of the Iñupiaq story-tellers. Midnight Son is his journey in discovering who Teddy Kyle Smith was, what he did, and what he really saw. Along the way, listeners will experience the soul of the real Alaska as narrator Dommek, Jr. brings this multilayered and sprawling tale to life.

Review –

Teddy Kyle Smith, a retired Marine, started appearing in movies as Alaska’s fledgling film industry was just taking off. But, right after his mother’s mysterious death in Kiana, Smith became the subject of a manhunt.

Smith fled into the wilderness, then shot two hunters at a remote cabin. What he said later brought to life local legends. It also initiated a legal dispute that, at its heart, questions the idea of a trial by one’s peers, if one’s peers do not understand or believe those stories, passed down through generations.

Midnight Son, which quickly become a best-seller for the audiobook service Audible, is narrated by Alaskan writer and musician James Dommek Jr.

Dommek, the great-grandson of Iñupiaq storytellers, says Teddy Smith’s story is really several stories woven together.

I thought this book would be a true crime thriller, but it is surprisingly more. I learned about Alaskan folklore, culture, and story telling in a non-traditional voice. The crime parts seemed secondary to the development of the narrator and that became of greater interest. I wouldn’t recommend to just anybody but it had my attention the whole time. It also gave a much better view of what it’s like to live in the bush than all the television  shows out there glamorizing living off the grid.

Interesting read.

 

 

West Cork by Sam Bungey

Book Description:

Published: February 8, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible/Free Digital Book

This much we do know: Sophie Toscan du Plantier was murdered days before Christmas in 1996, her broken body discovered at the edge of her property near the town of Schull in West Cork, Ireland. The rest remains a mystery.

Gripping, yet ever elusive, join the real-life hunt for answers in the year’s first not-to-be-missed, true-crime series. Investigative journalist, Sam Bungey, and documentarian, Jennifer Forde, guide listeners through the brutal, unsolved murder and the tangled web of its investigation, while introducing an intricate cast of characters, a provocative prime suspect, and a recovering community whose story begs to be heard.

Review –

This originated as a thirteen week pod cast on Audible and in February of this year was released to members as a free audiobook.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier, wife of renowned French film producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier, was mysteriously killed outside her vacation home in Schull just a few days before Christmas in 1996. Through interviews with people whose lives have been changed by the shocking crime — including her family, West Cork locals who have lived through more than 20 years of investigation and media attention, the prime suspect, and people close to the suspect — West Cork unravels the circumstances surrounding Sophie’s murder. The series also includes interviews with forensic scientists, pathologists and other experts who help disentangle the complexities of the case.

A newspaper journalist, with a lot of crazy baggage, is the prime suspect. In fact he was and is the ONLY suspect. All the evidence against him is circumstantial and he has never been brought to trial in Ireland, though arrested a few times. France has different laws about bringing people to trial and tried him in absentia  and found him guilty but he is living in Ireland and they can’t touch him.

If you like true crime – you should give this one a try.