Witch, by Glenn Puit

Review published on January 11, 2013. Reviewed by Jade Cranwell

Nudge Reviewer Rating:

Witch is the horrifying true story of a notorious American female killer, Brookey Lee West.

It is the 5th of February, 2001 and Las Vegas police have been called to storage unit #317 in the Nevada Valley. It is immediately apparent to them that the source of the problem is coming from the unmistakable and overpowering smell of rotting flesh that greets them. Upon further investigation, they discover the remains of a middle-aged woman secured inside a large garbage can in the storage unit. It is this horror that unravels a well hidden string of murderous crimes that all lead back to one person, Brookey Lee West.

If you can’t already tell by the brief description of Witch, it is not a story for the faint of heart. It features graphic pictures of the said murder victim, as well as images of Brookey Lee West herself.

Clearly that angle was taken to package and market the book, and make it stand apart from the many other ‘True Crime’ novels. Witch is, however, an excellent novel. The book goes into detail about West’s childhood, her relationships with both her family and otherwise, and it generates a certain amount of sympathy for the young girl who was denied a stable childhood. Her father may have been her biggest negative influence, particularly on the subject of witchcraft, which Puit looks into. It is the subject of witchcraft that brings me smoothly onto the one and only thing that bothered me about this book; the title. ‘Witch’ implies that West uses witchcraft and other Wiccan things in the murder/s that she has supposedly committed, when in fact that this all it is; an implication. A number of witnesses, the book states, tell of West’s skill at tarot card reading and predicting the future. When the police search the storage unit in which the body is found at the beginning of Witch, there are many books on witchcraft piled high in boxes, which West said belonged to her father. This is about as far as the connection to witchcraft goes.

Glenn Puit has an extensive set of research, and he draws on police interviews and prison interviews taken with West, as well as interviews with forensic scientists who describe in understandable detail the facts about the murder of the body in the storage unit, the likely scenario and circumstances surrounding the events that may have taken place. Puit writes in a confident and informative hand that both engages and talks fluently to the audience. There are hints as to the other murders West is likely to have committed; there seems to be a trail of missing people that trace back to her doorstep.

The most chilling thing about Witch is knowing it’s true from start to finish, and dispite the misleading title it is a very gripping and factual book that will make you think twice about trusting just anybody.

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