“ Print Length: 278 pages „
For Christmas 2012 I recieved a kindle from my parents for my main present - since last year I have been using a Kindle app on my iPhone to download and read mainly free books from the Amazon site. I used to love reading books as a child and as I got older I lost interest. Since I discovered started using the app on my phone my love for reading ignited once again... however with such a small screen on my iPhone it was becoming more diffcult to squint and try and read my downloads... which was the reason for the Kindle request.
One book genre I have been becoming more interested in on Amazon is the likes of true crime and real life biographies - I also enjoy watching the Crime channels about serious crimes and murders - not because I enjoy it but because I have a bit of a strange interest in how people get away with such things and how the law catchs up with them. For this reason I regually search this section on Amazon for this type of book.
One day in August 2012 I was looking at this section on Amazon looking for a new read... and I am glad I did at this particular time as I came across "Circumstances of Offense" about the life of death row prisoner, Robert Bailey - otherwise known as his street name "Saint". At the time the purchase was free to download to my kindle app otherwise I likely wouldnt have bought it... I'm a bit of a scrooge when it comes to Kindle purchases when there is so many great books on there free of charge, who would want to pay?
So in this review today I will write about what this book is about exactly and my thoughts on it. This is my first DooYoo book review and I hope I can do it justice...
About the book
Circumstances of Offense is the first in a series of books about accounts from Death Row prisoners published by Chris Dahl. The writing style seems to have come from the prisoner, Robert Bailey himself and Dahl has likely done some editing, re-arranging and minor adjustments to sections of the book. The reason I think this is because the book is written in a first person sense from Bailey and uses quite a lot of street slang which have their meanings explained towards the end pages.
Robert Bailey was born on 15th July 1982 in Milwaukee, Winsconsin USA to mother Debra and father Robert Snr. A couple of years later his younger brother Josh came along. Bailey enjoyed a very close relationship with both of his grandparents and loved both dearly and had many other family members around him, mainly cousins. First glance at this paragraph you will think to yourself that it sounds like quite a nice normal set up family but you couldn't be more wrong...
Baileys maternal biological grandfather was a law breaker and to the best of Bailey's knowledge was shot and killed by the authorities during an escape attempt when his mother was a young girl - long before Bailey was born. The man who he now knows as his grandfather - the man married to his grandmother - was the one to raise his mother from a young girl onwards. This grandfather however is completely opposite to the biological one - in the sense that he had a great job working as a mechanic for Coke a Cola which meant he could have a nice house and provide and do everything for his precious family. This grandfather was the only stable man figure in Roberts life constantly.
As for Baileys biological father, Baileys mother met him at the age of 13 and soon fell in love with him. His mother wanted children young and Robert was their first together - Robert Senior was very pleased soon after the birth when he found out the baby was a boy. Previous to Robert Junior being born his father was in Denver prison for 3 years and the couple lived together for just a couple of months after their son was born before they split up and went their seperate ways. It turns out Roberts father got another woman pregnant while they were together. I can only assume they resummed the relationship which resulted in the birth of Roberts younger sibling Josh later down the line. It is noted in the book that Roberts biological father was never really around much during his childhood and when he was 7 years old his mother married another man who turned out to be an abusive drunk. So in my mind from reading the beginning statements from Robert and his mother you get the starting sense that their family life was quite messed up and to say he had a bad childhood from the beginning is an understatement.
You get the sense in these passages that Roberts mother seemed to struggle with working different jobs and trying to support her kids so much so that her parents often stepped in to help her out financially and take them into their home when times got tough. As a mother working numorous jobs, often Robert and his brother would have free run of the house and get up to all kinds of trouble outside.
Likely as the result of a messed up family life in the beginning, Robert Baileys life seems to spirial out of control as chaotic life is the only thing that he knows. Through his own words he desribes his life experiances ranging from when him, his brother and mother came very close to death as a result of his own not-on-purpose actions. He then goes on to describe different friends and family members he meets through this walk of life and the petty crime he gets involved as he gets older with these people which later lead to him joining a notorious gang originated from Chicago named Simon City Royals - or as in the book they are refered to as just "Royals". Throughout his teenage years he also has a string of girlfriends which he details experiances with and events leading up to his sons birth and years in and out of young offenders prisons. The final chapters in the book detail the crime he committed that fatal day in 2005 when he made the decision with his friends to drive to Florida for Spring Break and how ultimately a split second stupid decision changed his life for the absolute worse.
When I first downloaded this book I did quickly get into it and completed the book gradually over a five day period. This is a great thing for me as often I can get very bored of a book and delete before I have reached half way.
The fact that the writing style is in the words of Bailey rather than Chris Dahl is much more effective as it does help you dive deeper into the mind of this young man and why everything that has gone wrong in his life has happened this way. If it was told through the words of another person I don't think it would work the same way. Same goes for the street slang used throughout the book - I find this very effective.
The book is started looking through the eyes of Baileys mother, Debra, which is well done in my eyes as after all this is the woman who brought Bailey into the word and she can give an insight into his younger life and her relationship with his father which Bailey can only do himself to a certain point.
Throughout the book from the beginning I did feel a huge sense of sadness for Robert Bailey as I am a great believer in how you are brought up can help shape your life for the worse or for the better. I can personally relate to Bailey as I was a bit of a loose cannon in my younger days and I believe if I didn't have such a great supporting family I could of very easily screwed my life up like this man.
I don't believe from reading this book that Bailey intensionally went out that day in Florida with the premeditated vision of doing what he would go on to do. I believe completely it was a stupid split second decision which could of been avoided had he been given the right guidance in his life from the people who should of offered it to him.
To me Death Row should be reserved for certain types of criminals only - such as child murderers/rapists/molesters and serial killers. To me, this book is a great read from the eyes of an ex gang member who is currently biding his time on death row. I would highly recommend and would likely think anyone interested in the genre of books will also be interested in reading this.
At present you can purchase a paperback version of this book on Amazon for £6.10 and the kindle version is £1.90.
Available as : Paperback or Kindle
Author : Chris Dahl
Published : 2012
Length : 278 pages