3 out of 4 stars
Review by klbradley
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Predator; The Man Who Didn’t Exist; Do You Know How to Fly? is Gordon Kahn’s non-fiction novel that takes a look at the disastrous turmoil that one man caused to several innocent people in Manatee County and Sarasota, Florida. The author pieces together the information regarding the attacks, and follows with an extraordinary account of the trial that followed Delmer Smith’s arrest. Predator; The Man Who Didn’t Exist; Do You Know How to Fly? is a true crime story that depicts how one violent man’s actions could cause disaster for many others, and eventually lead him to death row.
Delmer Smith was born in Detroit in 1971. His introduction into the life of a criminal was started at an early age, and by age fourteen, he was introduced to a juvenile jail cell for a rape conviction at a car wash. His eighteen months behind bars seemed to have little effect on him, as not long after he was released, he went forward with burglaries, bank robberies, and other violent crimes. Smith appeared to live a normal life to his close friends and family, but his violent assaults and robberies carried on throughout Florida starting in 2009, which is where a majority of this story takes place.
In this riveting story, author Gordon Kahn interviews some of Smith’s victims, relating back the horrific experiences they had to endure. The story seems to come to life when it is told from a first-hand experience, so this was an excellent attribution by the author. The court proceedings were easy to follow, with the author giving an excellent recount of details, like explaining what is happening when the attorneys pause, or the looks that are being given by the jury members. I was exceptionally pleased to see that the author included vocabulary clarification page at the end of the book, and cross-referenced the usage to specific sentences. This allowed me to follow along with ease, despite having to refer to the back of the book.
The writing style seemed to flow with ease, with only a few minor hiccups in the structure. My complaint with Predator; The Man Who Didn’t Exist; Do You Know How to Fly? comes from the repetition that came along with the story. I can tell the author repeated some sections for clarity, and so that they would be easily remembered, but it seemed that the same points of evidence came in to play five to six times each. There was also a bit of jumping around with the time log, especially once the violent attacks started to become frequent. Some of the background information seemed unnecessary to the story, especially the introductory pages regarding Delmer Smith’s birth.
My boss currently owns two homes in Florida, one in Bradenton and one in Sarasota. As I avidly watch the news, I was surprised to find that I did not recall hearing of these attacks. I was curious with how closely this story followed along with the news articles, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that the information in the story follows along well with the news articles. There was a mention of another book that continues with this story, and I am looking forward to the release of it as well.
This book has earned a 3 out of 4 star rating from me. The plot moved forward smoothly, but the numerous repetition seemed to make me feel as though I had accidentally lost my place in the book and read the same paragraph numerous times. I can understand the thought behind it, as a way to give clarity and serve as a reminder, but it became an issue with the numerous mentions. This book comes as an excellent recommendation from me for readers who enjoy true crime novels. Because the story depicts fairly recent events, it may be hard for some to read, given the violent nature and attacks that are detailed.
Predator; The Man Who Didn’t Exist; Do You Know How to Fly?
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