True Crime Addict

True Crime Addict

How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray

Book - 2016
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When an eleven year old James Renner fell in love with Amy Mihaljevic, the missing girl seen on posters all over his neighborhood, it was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with true crime. That obsession leads James to a successful career as an investigative journalist. It also gave him PTSD. In 2011, James began researching the strange disappearance of Maura Murray, a UMass student who went missing after wrecking her car in rural New Hampshire in 2004. Over the course of his investigation, he uncovers numerous important and shocking new clues about what may have happened to Maura, but also finds himself in increasingly dangerous situations with little regard for his own well-being. As his quest to find Maura deepens, the case starts taking a toll on his personal life, which begins to spiral out of control. The result is an absorbing dual investigation of the complicated story of the All-American girl who went missing and James's own equally complicated true crime addiction.

James Renner's True Crime Addict is the story of his spellbinding investigation of the missing person's case of Maura Murray, which has taken on a life of its own for armchair sleuths across the web. In the spirit of David Fincher's Zodiac , it is a fascinating look at a case that has eluded authorities and one man's obsessive quest for the answers.

Publisher: New York :, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press,, 2016, ©2016.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781250089014
Branch Call Number: 363. 2336 REN
Characteristics: xi, 280 pages : maps ; 22 cm


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Oct 22, 2019

On February 4th, 2004, Maura Murray left her dorm room in Amherst, Massachusetts for the last time.  She stopped at an ATM to empty out her bank account, then at a liquor store.  Four hours later, a passing motorist found her in her disabled vehicle on New Hampshire Route 112.  She declined his offer of help, claiming to have already called roadside assistance on her cell phone.  He called the police upon returning home, but when they arrived Murray was gone.  She has never been seen again, nor have her remains been located.

The Maura Murray disappearance is almost the ideal unsolved mystery, full of rabbit holes and enough fragmentary evidence to support endless speculation.  Even basic information like where Murray was going - she had searched for hotels in Vermont, but was headed in the wrong direction, her family had vacationed in Bartlett but Route 112 doesn't go there - and why - she had packed up her dorm room, as if she was planning on leaving permanently, but she brought several  textbooks with her, as if she was planning on spending some time on classwork - are unknown.  Meanwhile, complicating details and rumors have gradually trickled out - Murray had left West Point after being caught shoplifting and had subsequently been caught in Amherst using a stolen credit card number, Murray's boyfriend had cheated on her with a classmate and she had cheated on him with a track coach, she had totaled her father's car on her way home from a party a few weeks before her disappearance, a supervisor once found her nearly catatonic at work, a woman who saw Murray's car before police arrived reported that there was a man inside, on an anniversary of her disappearance a man calling himself "112dirtbag" released a YouTube video entitled "Happy Anniversary" which consisted of nothing but him laughing and winking - offering both tantalizing clues and maddening distractions to a remarkably large community of internet sleuths dedicated to finding the truth - or, at least, proving their pet theories.

James Renner's book is less about the unraveling of the mystery of Maura Murray than mapping the rabbit holes, and discovering that the underground realms they lead to can unexpectedly include your own unexpressed fears and pieces of your own buried past.  The title is "True Crime Addict" and not "Finding Maura Murray", the subtitle is not "The Truth Revealed" but "How I Lost Myself..."  This should serve as ample warning that Renner has chosen to write not about Maura Murray but rather himself looking for Maura Murray, indeed, himself as virtually the only person really interested in finding her.  Although this might have been interesting, his narcissism quickly becomes annoying, and his posturing exasperating by the time the book stumbles to its end.

Jan 07, 2019

This book drew me in quickly, I enjoyed the search for the truth of Maura's disappearance along with the writers ongoing backstory. FVRL, please obtain more of James Renner's books. In the meantime, I'm spending time becoming an online sleuth.

Aug 03, 2018

This was a very interesting book.Loved this book because I love crime books and I loved how it's a bit different then other crime books.The thing I disliked was that it's still unsolved but I would totally recommend this book.

PLYMC_Jack_Simons Jun 26, 2018

The info about Maura was a little more than what I've read elsewhere, but he talked a lot about himself which really made me lose interest.

Apr 05, 2018

Good writing/storytelling. Liked how Renner shared tidbits from his own life -- film noir style --as he went on this weird investigative journey. Talk about rabbit holes! Down into shadowy corners and dead-ends. At least it finishes with a possibility of sun. Reading it took me beyond the intrigue or sensationalism of this type of to see the different players at work, from witnesses, family left behind, ... to "desperados" looking for attention. Even the writer himself was affected. And true to life, no easy or complete answers. In the end, I wonder whether the book about the missing girl or the writer.

Aug 06, 2017

This was a very interesting book which held my attention all the way through and raises some very interesting questions about the disappearance, though it is still unsolved. It differs from most true crime books in that includes a lot of personal information from the writer about his life and what he experienced while researching the book. I'd certainly recommend it to any "true crime addict" out there as long as you are not expecting the usual formula that most true crime books follow.

Dec 09, 2016

The way James Renner communicates the facts of Maura Murray's disappearance and links bits and pieces with his own life had me wondering about what he calls "fearful symmetry". As he explains, this is more than coincidence. I was just almost just as interested to read about his personal life as the progress he made in Maura's disappearance. James is a pretty talented writer to be able to pull this off. I can't wait to read his other books.

Aug 12, 2016

This book is so good, I read it slowly over a 2 week-period, dreading its end. James Renner is a very talented writer, deftly weaving his own personal story with the investigation into Maura Murray's very strange disappearance. True Crime Addict made me feel so much: I laughed, cried, and felt a deep empathy for Renner as he describes struggling against the weight of his past, while facing a troubling future as an adult.
Renner is so observant, creative, and at times brings an appropriately-playful tone to what is, even for true crime addicts, a dreary subject.

Loved. This. Book.

agkersh May 24, 2016

This book was not what I was expecting; it was so much more! It is the personal story of an investigative true crime reporter, James Renner, and the cold case disappearance of a UMass student, Maura Murray, from a rural New Hampshire road. Both stories intertwine with each being intriguing, sometimes disturbing, and completely compelling as we follow the search for Maura and Mr. Renner’s descent into a dangerous true crime addition.
James Renner has had a lifelong obsession with true crime beginning with his following of the Amy Mihaljevic case when he was just eleven years old. He turned that obsession into a career as an investigative journalist and true crime writer. Mr. Renner is open about his problems with PTSD due to his delving into the dark side of crime and as he investigates the 2004 disappearance of Maura Murray it also effects his judgement, personal well-being and family. Maura’s story isn’t all it seems and the questions become an addiction to Mr. Renner, his online followers and me, as the reader.
This is a must read for the true crime lover. It is also a candid look into the mind of one of the addicted that try to solve these mysteries. Maura’s story is still unsolved and gives all who read this story a chance to come to their own conclusions based on the information given.
Great read!

May 21, 2016

He keeps you hooked thru-out, so this was an enjoyable read for me.

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