On December 13, 2001, Tracey Richter Pittman Roberts claimed to be an innocent housewife who was thrown into an terrifying situation when a couple of men broke into her home and tried to attack her and her three children, but once a couple of investigators noticed some inconsistencies in her story, they had to wonder what actually happened the night she shot Dustin Wehde nine times in the back of his head.
In his true crime novel, Beautifully Cruel, bestselling investigative journalist M. William Phelps uncovers the true story, revealing Tracey’s life of lies, manipulation, blackmail, and ultimately the murder of her mentally disabled young neighbor, Dustin. Phelps explores the criminal mind–the mind of a true psychopath.
Holy cannoli! This true crime gem is more twisted than any fiction book I’ve ever read. Tracey Richter is more like a Britney King character than a real human. Tracey’s manipulative, conniving, and a classic narcissist who thinks she has control of the narrative even when the evidence is piling up against her. This is a woman who had accumulated multiple stolen identities, committed fraud in two countries, and attempted to frame both of her ex-husbands for trying to have her killed.
Phelps does an excellent job telling a sensational story in a way that is far from sensationalized. He lays out the facts, providing multiple perspectives and a bus-load of evidence. The only issue I had with the story is that it was almost too authoritative–too cold–and some information was neither interesting nor necessary to the over-all story. That said, this is true crime not thriller fiction, so maybe all the facts are necessary.
I chose this novel for my first “Freaky Friday” post because I’m personally freaked out by the fact that psychopaths like this are really out there and we have no way of recognizing them. The fact that Tracey is still trying to manipulate her way out of her lifetime prison sentence and she has plenty of followers backing her on Facebook is also pretty freaky.
I’m a fan of the true crime genre because I think it’s important to have a realistic view of the world, but whether you like true crime or not, I strongly suggest this novel. It will definitely freak you out and make you question some things.
Have you read any good true crime novels or listened to any good true crime podcasts lately? Give me some recommendations in the comments, please!