90 Church by Dean Unkefer

Genre: memoir
Secondary genre: true crime/investigation, history
Format read: audiobook
Content warnings: sexual assault
Rating: DNF

Wrapping up my nonfiction crime reading spree was 90 Church, a memoir about the start of the FBI’s first drug task force in the 1960s.

I was expecting something in the vein of Erik Larsen’s work, but that wasn’t what I got. Unkefer’s story is tawdry, gritty, and dark. It follows a dedicated, patriotic family man as he descends into the chaos of a corrupt department, doing drugs, drinking himself into a stupor, fighting with his wife and ignoring his son. It reads more like an HBO crime drama than anything else.

I was about halfway through when I reached the part that made my put the book down for good (CW): After picking up a woman at a bar and going back to her place, he’s so enraged when she doesn’t want to sleep with him that he beats and rapes her.

No. Hard pass. After spending five hours listening to him justify drug use, binge drinking, his mistreatment of his family, and falsified reports, I didn’t want to hear how he justified rape and assault. This isn’t a record of the early days of law enforcement, it’s a self-aggrandizing account of narcissist.

Pick something else if you want to read about true crime and criminal investigation.

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