Fatal Beauty by Burl Barer (January 2011)

A Lot of Information. A Lot of Crazy.
Review by Kim Cantrell

There are a multitude of definitions for crazy on the web, according to Google. And every single one of them applies to Rhonda Glover.

On July 25, 2004, Rhonda Glover entered her home, occupied by her ex and father of her son, Jimmy Joste, in the upscale Austin, Texas, neighborhood of Mission Oaks and emptied her 9mm Glock into Joste, killing him.

Sadly, that is only a very small portion of Rhonda Glover’s story.

What immediately followed is an intense, Court-endorsed debate on what constitutes insanity.

One would think that conspiracy theories involving Cave X, former President George W. Bush, child pornography, aquifers, homosexuality, pagan rituals, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, and fraudulent oil deals, that all tie into one another, would constitute crazy.

Insanity. Not guilty by mental defect.

Not necessarily.

True crime author Burl Barer takes on this mind-boggling, often confusing case out of the state most notorious for being tough on murderers, and attempts to make it into a interesting, comprehensible book titled Fatal Beauty.

Now here is where reviewing becomes difficult -

I think Barer did one heck of a job in telling the story as well as it could be done. But, let’s face it, when you’re working with a bipolar individual whose thought processes swing faster than the tick-tock second hand on a grandfather clock, there’s only so much you can accomplish.

I give Barer five stars, a thumbs up, and a heartfelt atta-boy for the face-to-face interviews he managed to hold with Rhonda and the exchange of letters between them.

There are several chapters of the book that I initially thought of as fluff and filler. But, by the end of the book, I realized they weren’t. For example, Barer dedicates a long, detailed chapter on how the law, not only in Texas but many other states as well, define insanity. Being that true crime is 95 percent of the books I read, I kind of skimmed over it thinking I knew it all.

Yeah, well, maybe I don’t. Because, at times, I had to go back and reread and reference it. It WAS important – not just filler.

Same goes for other cases from around the nation mixed into Fatal Beauty. Not page fillers, but relevant examples that directly relate to the case of Rhonda Glover.

Now what I didn’t like -

I was disappointed there wasn’t more background information on both Rhonda and Jimmy. More was provided about Jimmy, but it was very limited; anything before Rhonda’s adult years are nonexistent.

The cover states “Rodeo Star. Seductress. Killer.” (1) Rodeo Star is an overstatement; (2) Seductress implies a saucy effort by a beauty. Rhonda is a beauty but her seduction methods were more vulgar than saucy; and (3) killer – no problem, it applies.

Do I recommend it? Of course! While the book may be more focused on how to prosecute (or not) a person suffering obvious mental disorders, it’s very interesting. Also mind-boggling, so don’t expect to read it in a couple of days – give yourself time to savor each chapter like a fine wine so that you take away what you’re supposed to.

What I will suggest, however, is that before beginning Fatal Beauty, you turn to page 337 (Acknowledgments and Clarification), read this section, and fully understand it before you begin reading.

I will NOT recommend it if you prefer just the crime and aren’t interested in the judicial workings. You will become bored and find yourself skimming. If the first sentence applies to you, stay away.

So will you read it? Have you read it? What’s your thoughts?

For more information on this book or its author, visit www.adoraburl.typepad.com.

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