Little Crazy Children by James Renner

Posted 02/17/2023 by Charli in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Ok, so whether you want to believe it or not, I actually do like true crime books. I don’t read a lot of them, but I’m picky about them . Honestly, I’m not even sure what made me decide to request to read Little Crazy Children by James Renner. Now for this book, the usual CAWPILE review isn’t going to cut it, so this time around you’re just going to get my thoughts.

I received this book for free from NetGalley to facilitate my review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may contain material that is disturbing to some readers. Please Google for trigger warnings as I cannot possibly find/relay every trigger warning. Thank you!
Little Crazy Children by James RennerLittle, Crazy Children by James Renner
Published by Kensington on 06/27/2023
Genres: Social Science / Criminology, True Crime / Forensics, True Crime / Murder / General
Pages: 320
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley

In this riveting work of investigative journalism, the author of True Crime Addict and host of “True Crime This Week,” James Renner, explores the tragic unsolved 1990 murder of Lisa Pruett in the privileged enclave of Shaker Heights, Ohio, its troubling aftershocks, and the dark secrets teens tell—and keep.

TWIN PEAKS meets THE CRUCIBLE in 1990s Shaker Heights, the setting of LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE.

In September of 1990, in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, sixteen-year-old Lisa Pruett, a poetry lover and member of a church youth group, was on her way to a midnight tryst with her boyfriend, when she was viciously stabbed to death only thirty feet from the boy’s home.

The murder cast a palpable gloom over the upscale community and sparked accusations, theories, and rumors among Lisa’s friends and peers. Together they wove a damning narrative that circled back to a likely suspect: “weird” high school outcast Kevin Young. Without a shred of evidence the teen was arrested, charged, and tried for the crime. His eventual acquittal didn’t squelch the anger and outrage among those who believed that Kevin got away with murder.

With a fresh perspective and painstaking research culled from police files, court records, transcripts, uncollected evidence, and new interviews, James Renner reconstructs the events leading up to and following that heartbreaking night. What emerges is a portrait of a community seething with dark undercurrents—its single-minded authorities, protective status-conscious parents, and the deeply peer-pressured teens within Lisa’s circle.

Who had the capacity for such unchecked violence? What monsters still lurk in the dark? After more than thirty years, questions like these continue to fester among the community of Shaker Heights, Ohio, still deeply scarred by wounds that remain hidden, unspoken, and unhealed.

CW: Murder, suicide, mentions of rape, drinking, drugs

About Little Crazy Children

Little Crazy Children takes on the 1990 murder case of 16-year-old Lisa Lee Pruett. The book details how the Shaker Heights police honed in on one suspect despite there being other suspects.

My Thoughts

First off, this book is very well written. It makes sense, and the investigative work done to ensure that the facts are presented was excellent. I particularly enjoyed the final few chapters in which Mr. Renner chose to give us insight as to how he came to write the book as well as his insights into who the real killer might have been.

Little Crazy Children really showcases the court of public opinion and how people’s lives can be ruined by false accusations. People don’t want to hear the truth once they’ve made up their minds, unless that truth coincides with their opinion on the matter. It also does an excellent job of showcasing the way in which law enforcement officials can influence the court of public opinion when they want to.

The case of Lisa Lee Pruett’s death has never been solved. This is mostly because no one wants to believe that Kevin Young isn’t guilty. Is it possible Kevin Young is guilty? Sure, anything is possible. But to be honest, I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Renner on this one – it isn’t him. As you read Little Crazy Children, you’ll find that there are plenty of other people who are more likely to have done it. But I’ll leave you to find out who those people are on your own.

This is a great true crime book and I encourage people to read it – especially if you live in Shaker Heights and have never heard of this case. It’s a very interesting read.


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