REVIEW: Targeted, M. William Phelps

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

When her missing boyfriend is found murdered, his body encased in cement inside a watering trough and dumped in a cattle field, a local sheriff’s deputy is arrested and charged with his murder. But as New York Times bestselling author and investigative journalist M. William Phelps digs in, the truth leads to questions about her guilt. In his first full-length, original true-crime book for WildBlue Press, Phelps delivers a hard-hitting, unique reading experience, immersing readers in the life of the first female deputy in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, who claims a sexual harassment suit she filed against the sheriff led to a murder charge. Is Tracy Fortson guilty or innocent? You read and decide.

This one is on me. I read the tagline on the front of the book, “a deputy, her love affairs, a brutal murder” and assumed that the deputy was the one who was the victim of this brutal and horrific crime, but that is not the case - Tracy Fortson is the convicted murderer. I think, even though so much of my experience and the blurb told me otherwise, I expected something different as, like so many other true crime media, Targeted seems to forget that someone - a real person with hopes, dreams, wishes and wants - died in favour of focusing on the murderer.
And although so many reviews of this book commend M. William Phelps on his compassion for the victims, I see none of that here. In fact at some points, Targeted comes off as quite disrespectful towards Doug Benton in its casual, and often quite curse-laden, tone.
Shouldn’t the summarisation of the events of a person’s death be done in a style more fitted to the situation? I mean, on the day-to-day, every other word that comes out of my mouth is usually a swear word and yet, even I would realise that utilising my everyday speech pattern wouldn’t be appropriate in a book with someone’s death at the heart of its subject matter.
It just didn’t feel right and left a bad taste in my mouth.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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