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Monday, 17 August 2020

✍♫ Tortured With Love - J.T. Hunter

Genre: True Crime
Published 18 May 2020 by Pedialaw Press
Number of pages: 248
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★  I really liked it 

purchase from purchase from
Tortured With Love: The True Crime Romance of the Lonely Hearts Killers
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"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."

"Tortured With Love" is the eighth true crime work by J.T. Hunter, a creative writing professor with an interest in criminal psychology and near-15 years experience as an attorney, "including criminal law and appeals, and [...] significant training in criminal investigation techniques".   J.T.'s biography states that he "strives to craft compelling narratives that educate and inform, while treating victims and their families with empathy and respect"; I think that he fully achieved this in Tortured With Love and that all of his expertise and methodology shine through in his narrative.

Tortured With Love tells the story of Martha Beck and Raymond Martinez Fernandez, a.k.a. 'The Lonely Hearts Killers', who committed a string of very unsavory crimes between 1946 and 1949, and who were executed on 8 March 1951 in the iconic Sing Sing prison for first degree murder. 

A selection of images of Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez
A selection of images of Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez
The flowing third person narration focuses on Martha and Raymond (rather than the victims, which we only see through their eyes), and it takes us through events chronologically, thus creating several distinct sections covering how they met, how their crimes unfolded, how they were caught, their trial, their appeal, their execution and the aftermath. Thus we get to hear several versions of the same occurrences as presented by Martha and Raymond at different stages of their testimonies.

The author presents the facts, extrapolated from the remaining statements given by the pair in Michigan, during the trial and whilst in prison, fully but succinctly, as well as providing relevant background information about them which might offer an insight into their psyche and what might have contributed to their actions.  Interesting current events, which put the mentality of people in this very different era into perspective, are also peppered throughout the book (including a surprising link to novelist Truman Capote, author of the true crime novel 'In Cold Blood'), as well as pertinent music, lyrics and poems.  Finally, J.T. also adds observations about the various legal proceedings, thus raising several questions in our minds about the entire process and the death penalty; we know Martha and Raymond committed murder but the key question at trial was if this was premeditated, and therefore murder in the first degree.

A word of warning: this story deals with the graphic and gruesome death of a very young child which some readers may find upsetting.

I am an avid true crime aficionado and am utterly fascinated by human and criminal psychology, in particular when it comes to serial killers, and I found Tortured With Love captivating, easy to read and impossible to put down; above all else, beside introducing me to The Lonely Hearts Killers the author made me think about all sorts of aspects of our society, back in the forties and now, and he made the people within it come to life.  I really enjoyed J.T. Hunter's clear, logical, uncluttered and yet mentally challenging presentation, and look forward to catching up on his back-catalogue.

[ARC received via Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours]

About the Author

J.T. Hunter is an attorney with over fourteen years of experience practicing law, including criminal law and appeals, and he has significant training in criminal investigation techniques.

He is also a college professor in Florida where his teaching interests focus on the intersection of criminal psychology, law, and literature.

JT's bestselling true crime books include:
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CMash said...

I so want to read this book, along with his others after seeing nothing but rave reviews for them.

JT Hunter said...

Thanks for the great review - very glad you
liked it!