I received a copy of this book from the author, A.J Flick, and the publisher, WildBlue Press, via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Actual rating of a strong 3.5.
Toxic Rage follows the true crime of a murder in Tucson in 2004. The man murdered, Brian Stidham, was a well loved and respected doctor. This book follows the lives of the people involved, leading up to, during, and after the murder has been committed. It gives insight into what was going on in the people’s lives when this event occurred, using reports and interviews to give more depth.
I really enjoyed this book, I’ve only read a few other true crime novels, and I find it different to reading fiction crime novel, probably because this actually happened. The people I am reading about are real, and so is their pain. I loved the insight given and how all the different people involved, especially all the women who were involved with Brad Schwartz, the one of the men sentenced for the crime.
Reading through this account, I couldn’t help but realise very early on how unhinged Brad Schwartz was. His womanising aside, which is a pretty dick move in itself, I was more surprised at how quickly he would tell someone he doesn’t know how much he hated Brian, and go into the whole sordid tale of what happened between them. And not only that, he openly admitted to all of these women that he wanted Brian dead, asking a few of them whether they had connections to hit men or gang members who could carry out the deed for him. No well adjusted person openly discloses this information to people he doesn’t really know, and to that MANY people as well.
Another thing that shocked me a bit, was that all of these women brushed it off as the angry rantings of a sane man who wouldn’t follow through. They all had bad feelings about what was being said about Brian, and wondered, even if just for a second, whether or not Brad would actually carry out his threats, yet NONE of them thought it wise to at least let the authorities know? Even just to say “Hey, so this guy I’m seeing made some remarks that made me uncomfortable, I’m not sure that he’ll actually carry them out, but I just felt I should let someone know in case.” this floored me. I mean, I understand that they all thought they were the only woman he was seeing, and they all believed that they were the sole person he had professed these nefarious thoughts to, but still, if someone is that angry and says something like that to me, repeatedly I might add, I’d be inclined to go give the cops a heads up. Just in case.
And Brad being so adamant that he wasn’t behind the death? I’m honestly not sure whether I believe him, there is a small portion of doubt that maybe he didn’t organise this at all, but from all the evidence presented, that sliver of doubt is very tiny. Could he be that mentally unstable that he carried out his threat but honestly believes he had nothing to do with it? Did he have a psychiatric evaluation done? He just seems so unhinged, and to this day still professes innocence.
There was one thing that irked me a teeny bit which with this, I found a couple of the conversations, one of them being between the detectives and Mrs. Stidham on the night of Brian’s death. The dialogue was so jilted and hard to follow at times, I’m sure that Flick has taken the dialogue from the reports and interviews, but I just felt that maybe they should have been edited a bit, so while still saying the same thing, just less pauses and switching mid sentence? If that makes sense? I almost felt like the detective interviewing Mrs. Stidham was a teenager not sure of his job. I did pick up a couple more sentences with missing words, or misspelled words, but nothing a last sweep editing wouldn’t fix.
All in all, this was an interesting case. I’m still left with questions about it, but I doubt we’ll ever get the whole truth.