Three out of Five Stars
I love reading true crime stories. It’s one of the only genres you can choose where in most cases truth is, in fact, stranger than fiction. After I finish reading a true story like this, I’ll sit back and think about the facts of the case. What lead up to the murder, the triggering event? What pushed the person contemplating such a brutal act to go ahead and step over the edge to actually carrying it out? I’ve always said, if ever I had the chance to do my life over, I’d study forensics and work on homicide investigations, similar to what Jeannie Walker did here. I’m sure it was difficult for her because of the close personal relationship she had with the victim, and yet she stuck with it year in and year out. Takes a lot determination in a case such as this.
Jerry Sternadel is probably not the nicest person you’d ever want to meet, clearly self-absorbed and selfish where his family and friends are concerned. He made a habit out of belittling his wife and children, wasn’t always faithful, and wasn’t always fair. In fact, he probably carried no empathy for any of those close to him, except perhaps, to a small degree, for his two children. Though it is difficult to find many positives to list about Jerry, was his narcissistic personality enough of a reason to allow his murderers to go unpunished? If this were true there would be a great many more people getting away with murder. Jeannie Walker knew all about her ex-husband’s flaws, she’d lived with him for years, bore him two children, and yet Jeannie (not his current wife) stepped up to assist law enforcement when they asked for help to find Jerry’s killer. We read about her struggles to prove Jerry’s wife and her best friend planned to murder him with rat poison after they’d been caught stealing money from his business accounts. Not only did they poison him at home, but they managed to do so in the hospital, right under the careless noses of the doctors and nurses caring for him. Makes one wonder about the health care system, that something like this could still be done.
Because Jeannie Walker writes “Fighting the Devil” from a personal stand point, we are opened to many details that most crime story authors leave out. As a Christian woman, she believes there is true evil in the world and it worked against her in trying to see the guilty involved in this case brought to justice. I found a few of the dreams she goes into detail about chilling. Some readers may find these instances difficult to believe, but I have experienced similar situations firsthand and I know how frightening they are– but also how unbelievable they can sound to others when you try to explain. Satan is busy wrecking havoc on the world. He would prefer people didn’t believe in dreams or nightmares, and the warnings they bring about our future. But even for those who only believe a dream is a dream, I’m sure you’ll find the facts stated in this case interesting to follow. How did these two women manage to poison this man right in front of everyone else, right inside the hospital, with no one detecting (or stopping) it? Decide for yourself how many were at fault in this one man’s death, and the poisoning of an innocent bystander who happened to be standing in the wrong house on the wrong day. See how one woman is brought to justice while her partner in crime is able to escape. But the law doesn’t forget about murder and at least one reader about Jerry Sternadel’s murder is praying the second one is soon caught and prosecuted. Justice can only be complete when she is sharing a cell with her partner in crime.
As with most any novel I pick up, even those I enjoy very much, there can be parts I am not enamored with, and Fighting the Devil was no exception. I very much enjoyed reading this story, but decided I had to go with with three stars over four because there was a tendency to repeat information by stating the exact same facts from two or more people, making it sound repetitious. I felt not enough change was available to warrant more than one interview, or at the most two. Dialogue also tended to sound repetitious in places. Sometimes true life dialogue will not come across well in the written word, and instead of trying to use exact wording, I would rather the author go ahead and get rid of any redundant bits or repetition where names are concerned. Other than that, I thought this a well thought out, well executed story, by a wife turned investigator when her ex-husband is murdered. Very enjoyable read.