on Tour August 1 – September 30, 2020
My fascination with true crime began with Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi’s novel about the Charles Manson murders and his prosecution of Manson and his minions. Though the horrific crime gave me nightmares as a nine-year-old, I was in my early teens by the time Bugliosi published his book and curious about the minds that could commit such violence.
Fifty years later, I’m no less curious, and unfortunately, history has no shortage of brutal murders.
Tortured With Love recounts the crime spree of Ray Fernandez and Martha Beck in the late 1940s. The press called the couple The Lonely Hearts Killers because Ray chose his victims from the listings of lonely hearts clubs, popular during the times, and it was in fact, how he and Martha met when a friend, trying to help Martha get over her recent divorce, sent her name into one of the clubs.
While I knew how Fernandez and Beck’s stories ended, JT Hunter’s detailed, slow-build account is engrossing and humanizes the murderous couple without invoking sympathy.
They don’t deserve it.
The author also did a good job of including events from each of the killer’s past that could explain some of their behavior. The mother of plus-size Martha didn’t sound particularly nurturing, so when needy Martha met manipulative Ray, they were gasoline and a lit match. I have no doubt Martha was unstable and [mostly] controlled by Ray. Were she tried today, I wouldn’t be surprised if a high-powered defense attorney put on a parade of expert mental health professionals that led to Martha getting minimum sentencing or even acquitted. But there is enough character detail to show while Martha was obsessed with Ray Fernandez, she also had a mean streak.
The inclusion of current event snippets, actual trial testimony, and letters written by victims, family, friends, and Ray and Martha reinforce the story’s veracity because some of the murders are so heinous, they read like pure fiction.
However, the story is true and JT Hunter does another masterful job of introducing us to serial killers before they killed.
What is the price of passion? What is the power of love?
Meet Martha Beck, a young nurse dedicated to healing others, until her own hurting heart lured her down a darker path. Loneliness led her to Raymond Fernandez, but love led her all the way to the electric chair.
This is the tragic story of the Lonely Heart Killers.
Genre: True Crime
Published by: JT Hunter
Publication Date: May 15th 2020
Number of Pages: 210
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