Travel Tips: Central Michigan’s Cops & Doughnuts

Are you interested in crime, policing, food, or colorful roadside attractions? You’ll want to know about Cops & Doughnuts bakery in Clare, Michigan. Yes, it’s for real!

For many years, the bakery was a favorite stop for the members of the Clare Police Department. But, in 2009, after 113 years in business, the bakery was within weeks of shutting down. And it would have closed, if all nine members of the Clare Police Department hadn’t come to the rescue. They saved it, expanding the business to a second store-front, The Cop Shop, and now a third, with outposts in Gaylord, Bay City, Mt. Pleasant, and Midland, Michigan.

Named after Ireland’s County Clare, the town contains Lake Shamrock, as well as a branch of the less salubrious-sounding Tobacco River. The town (population 3,254) is pretty near the geographic center of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The largest nearby city is Mt. Pleasant, 15 miles south. As it’s located on a main route to the popular year-round Michigan vacation spot, Houghton Lake, Clare seems like it would be an attractive stop for a leg-stretch, bathroom break, and chocolate glazed.

Even more to the point, Clare has underworld connections. Reportedly, Detroit’s notorious Purple Gang occasionally hung out there once upon a time. In the Prohibition era, this criminal mob of mostly Jewish bootleggers and gangsters was the principal gang in the city of Detroit. Some 25,000 illegal saloons in the city created a large market for bootleg liquor. Rumor has it, gang members would hide in the bakery’s basement coal bin when the heat was on.

Cops & Doughnuts today? It’s reportedly very safe.

The Pain Tourist by Paul Cleave

What I like about the two Paul Cleave thrillers I’ve read is how he ties social behavior into the story of a crime and investigation. In his work, Internet frenzies make bad situations worse, leaving me thinking, “Oh, yeah. I can see that happening.”

In the first book of his I read, The Quiet People, a couple suspected of harming their child is besieged by angry would-be vigilantes camping out in front of their home. Suspicions inflamed by social media are enough to produce a crowd edging toward violence. The Pain Tourist touches on people’s fascination with true-crime stories and their willingness to believe they are competent and informed enough to become investigators themselves. You’ve seen this in action if you watched the discovery+ channel’s 2021 series Citizen P.I. In the official confusion and near-vacuum of information after the recent killings at the University of Idaho, the amateurs stepped in.

Amateurs have provided helpful information in a number of instances. They’re good at code-cracking, occasionally find missing persons, and willing to delve into cold cases. But more ambitious self-assigned tasks, such as identifying pedophiles and targeting presumed perpetrators can get dangerous for both the citizen and the accused, who may, in fact, be innocent. This is particularly so when accusers decide to take action.

Authorities worry they can jam up an investigation, overwhelming police with “tips” that need to be checked out (more than 6,000 in the Idaho case in the first three weeks after the crimes). In Cleave’s writing, these true crime devotees are pain tourists.

Taut. Twisty. Propulsive. You can trot out all the cliches regularly used to describe thriller fiction and use them with abandon for The Pain Tourist.

A home invasion leaves Frank and Avah Garrett dead. Nine years later, their 19-year-old son, James, remains in a coma with a bullet wound to the brain, and their 14-year-old daughter, Hazel, is trying to piece a life together. The three men seen running from the Garrett home have never been identified.

While Christchurch Detective Rebecca Kent investigates a serial murderer case, alternating chapters provide insight into what’s going on inside James’s head. A lot, and it’s fascinating. His mind is constructing an alternative reality – one in which his parents don’t die and he and Hazel carry on their lives as they would have been. Eight years and 10 months after the attack, in the now of the novel, James wakes up.

As he describes his memories during those years, Hazel and his doctor see correlations with real-life events. James calls what’s in his head Coma World. In Coma World, he had adventures that drew from the books Hazel read to him. The dates he believes certain events occurred match reality. Naturally, the police want to talk to him to find out whether this amazing memory contains clues from that fatal night. He agrees to try. It’s an intriguing possibility, with loads of implications.

Detective Inspector Rebecca Kent is assigned to James’s case, and because her old friend, retired Detective Inspector Theodore Tate, worked the original case, she gets in touch. He’s now working as a technical advisor for true crime television shows, and Cleave nicely portrays the rise in true crime ‘entertainments’, the dark side of the audience obsession and the shamelessness of the media.

Cleave has a special talent for misdirection, which you don’t fully appreciate until near the book’s end, when several investigations start to come together most satisfactorily. Kent and Tate share one serious concern, that the men who killed James’s parents will come back to finish the job.

Rebecca Kent and Theodore Tate are solidly written characters. Hazel and James’s relationship is especially close, a cup of kindness in a vat of cruelty. James and his prodigious abilities form a completely believable, highly sympathetic character. And, along the way, numerous minor characters are given enough detail for plausibility. Maybe the bad guys are a bit too irredeemable, though that merely raises the stakes. This is a fast-moving, engaging story that has something to say and is hard to put down.

Read more:
The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America’s Coldest Cases, by Deborah Halber – “Part whodunit, part sociological study . . . The result is eminently entertaining.”

The Lie Detector’s Big Lie

The fascinating American Experience documentary on the checkered history of the lie detector reveals that three separate men figure in the development of this flawed technology—ubiquitous in mid-century crime stories, television dramas, and still a staple of law enforcement and the intelligence community. Nevertheless, the physiological measures the polygraph records have not proved to demonstrate untruthfulness, the technology is easily defeated, it has failed in numerous significant cases, and it never met the objectivity test, either, as the behavior and skill of the examiner also influence the results.

Like so many disastrous inventions, the development of a machine that could tell truth from falsehood began with a laudable purpose. In the early 20th century, the brutal methods the police used to get information, known as the 3d degree, made a safe, “scientific,” and presumably objective way to obtain information seem like a good idea. Certain physiological measures (breathing and heart rate, blood pressure, etc.) had been put forward as markers of truth-telling, and medical student John Larson created a machine that would combine them. Each might be weak by itself, but together, they could create a powerful tool. Working for the Berkeley, California, Police Department, along with a high school student, Leonarde Keeler, Larson developed his prototype.

Larson’s first case revealed what would turn out to be his invention’s biggest flaw. Valuables were disappearing from a women’s dormitory on the Berkeley campus. Larson tested all of the residents, identified the culprit, and she left campus. Later she wrote Larson saying she was innocent, but had been abused as a child and feared his machine would betray her secret.

A second researcher, William Marston of American University, created a cruder machine, but convinced prosecutors to use it during a trial. Even today, some jurisdictions allow polygraph results to be used in the courtroom, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1998 conclusion that they are “little better than could be obtained by the toss of a coin.”

Interestingly, both Larson and Marston ended up in Hollywood, where motion picture moguls wanted to measure how their films affected audience emotions. Neither lasted there. Today, Marston is best remembered as the creator of the comic book character Wonder Woman, who readily solved her creator’s shortcomings with her golden Lasso of Truth.

Later, Larson’s former assistant, Keeler, promoted his own machine, which he called the polygraph. He touted its infallibility to banks and retail outlets, who grabbed the opportunity to screen their employees on a regular basis. Eventually, hundreds of thousands of American workers were subjected to polygraphs, until most private employer screening was outlawed. Screening of national security and public safety personnel continues in some jurisdictions. (Note that polygraph use, certainly on such a widespread basis, is an almost wholly American phenomenon.)

When Congressman Richard Nixon challenged Alger Hiss to take a lie detector test, it wasn’t because Nixon believed in the technology, it was because he knew the public did. Hiss’s refusal sealed his fate and helped launch an era of using the polygraph as a tool for intimidation. With this development, Larson believed his invention had become a “Frankenstein’s monster.” This scene from The Wire, perfectly demonstrates how the unquestioning faith in “lie detectors” can be a tool for manipulation.

The truth is that, even though the polygraph is next-to useless in detecting lies, people harbor secrets. And they fear the technology will reveal them.

Art by George Pérez

So, What’s Santa Reading?

Santa Claus, reading

Santa has eclectic tastes in literature, but confesses to a soft spot for stories about Christmas, especially the ones about himself. Well, who wouldn’t?

Death on a Winter Stroll

Reading Death on a Winter Stroll, the new holiday mystery by Francine Mathews, seventh in a series, would be perfect for S. Claus. In December, Nantucket Island’s popular restaurants and shops are brightly lit and open for business, pine and potpourri scent the air, Santa arrives in a Coast Guard cutter, and residents and tourists alike join in the three-day Christmas Stroll.

Stroll Season is about to start, and this year, two sets of visitors warrant special attention. First, the US Secretary of State, her husband, and his twenty-three-year-old son. The second, much larger group comprises cast and crew of a new streaming television series. Hollywood stars, fawning diplomatic assistants, old friends and new loves—in short, a delicious cast of characters.

You’re very aware of the ocean here, grey and enticing, wind and white caps. At times, it’s as easy to get around by boat as by car. (Santa does.) So, how did a murderer find his way to the cottage of a reclusive woman photographer, and why did he kill her? When a second murder occurs, this one among the Hollywood contingent, the two deaths appear completely unconnected. But are they? Take heart, police chief Meredith Folger is on the job.

The story moves along briskly with plenty of local color and numerous plot twists. It just goes to show that people who spend their lives looking at the world through the lens of a camera—not just the dead woman, but the film people as well—sometimes miss things just out of frame. A fun, quick read, perfect for stuffing Christmas stockings! Order right here with my Amazon affiliate link.

The Santa Klaus Murder

A British Library Crime Classic, The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay, was first published in 1936 and has all the comfy hallmarks of a traditional English country-house mystery—rural setting, large cast of slightly uneasy family members, unwelcome holiday visitors, and the dead body of the wealthy patriarch, Sir Osmond Melbury. It’s complicated, and, sorry, Santa, you appear to have committed the deed. Or at least someone dressed like you may have. Motives galore. It’s up to Chief Constable Halstock to figure out where everyone was at the time of the murder and why some of them are lying. Order here with my Amazon affiliate link.

Architect of Courage

Santa also encourages you to read (and give!) one of his favorite books of 2022, Architect of Courage. “It’s perfect for people who like mysteries and thrillers,” he says, “and on those long winter nights up at the North Pole, we need good, solid entertainment!” Amazon affiliate link here.

Suspect by Scott Turow

When you crack open a new legal thriller by Scott Turow, you know you’ll be in good hands. In the veteran author’s latest novel, Suspect, the hands he puts you in are those of narrator Clarice ‘Pinky’ Granum, a 33-year-old private investigator working for downmarket lawyer Rik Dudek. Pinky has acquired a bit of a reputation as a screw-up, not solely because she is one. Maybe it’s the trail of failed romantic relationships, male and female. Maybe it’s the outrageous ink. Maybe it’s the nail in her nose. Yet she’s earnest in her work supporting Rik, and it’s those very quirks and that sincere dedication that make her a character you want to root for.

This is the 12th book in Turow’s long-running series based in fictional Kindle County, Illinois, reportedly based on Cook County, which is mostly taken up by Chicago. Lucia Gomez is the police chief of the town of Highland Isle and a long-time friend of Rik’s. She asks him to represent her as she fights accusations that she demanded sexual favors from three officers when they were up for promotion. The three-person Police and Fire Commission has scheduled a hearing. It’s always satisfying when a fictional attorney nails an opposing witness to the courtroom wall, trapped in their own lies, as Rik handily does with two of the accusers.

They’re retired now and working for local property magnate Moritz Vojczek, AKA The Ritz, another former cop. When he worked in narcotics, he not only stole cash and dealt drugs, but used them too. When Gomez became chief, she canned him. Now she figures the plot to get her fired is his revenge. You can’t help but worry that his combination of money, connections, street smarts, and viciousness will be more than a match for Rik and Pinky.

The third accuser is a little more difficult to dismiss. At the hearing, he comes up with a photograph of the chief and him in a shockingly compromising position. It’s a picture that will most probably lead to Lucy’s firing, regardless of the commission’s finding. You’ll probably find the chief likeable, but you may start to doubt her. It seems she isn’t telling everything and it’s nerve-wracking to think she’s leading her legal team into serious trouble. When her accuser turns up dead, with Lucy the person most motivated to silence him, Rik and Pinky’s simple sextortion case spins out of control.

Pinky’s out-of-the-office life is going in a couple of interesting directions. She has a new neighbor who’s suspiciously quiet. Using her skills with the PIBOT (Private Investigator Bag Of Tricks), she starts tailing and tracking his middle-of-the-night spying on a nearby technology center. What’s he looking at? Or for? Fans of techno-thrillers will enjoy the deets about surveillance gear and ways to thwart it.

The strategy sessions between Rik, Pinky, and law enforcement are like watching a hard-fought game of chess. They can put all their pieces in the best positions possible, but the Ritz’s next move may be out of their control.

Suspect has a fast-moving story, and much of the enjoyment of it lies in the well-developed character of Pinky. She’s fearless, and you never quite know what she’ll do next. A master plotter like Turow, of course, knows just how to parcel out the clues and the questions to maintain a high level of tension, and Pinky is one of those indelible characters you won’t soon forget.

The Ride-Along

Frank Zafiro and Colin Conway, two former officers of the Spokane, Washington, Police Department, have collaborated on the important novel, The Ride-Along. One day, at the beginning of his ten-hour overnight shift, experienced officer Lee Salter is asked to have a civilian ride in the patrol car with him. This is not an unusual request in many police departments where ride-alongs are considered part of community relations. In this case, the person who’ll accompany him is a member of a vocal citizens’ Policy Reform Initiative named Melody Weaver. Salter expects a difficult few hours, and so does she.

The authors deserve considerable credit for trying to set aside their biases and present both sides of the police-citizen disconnect. Both parties make their arguments, though the authors’ thumbs seem on the police side of the scale. Weaver is querulous and argumentative, not appearing to want explanations, but rather to criticize. At least at first. Exposure to situations police officers face routinely does get through to her to some extent.

Salter acknowledges missteps by the authorities, particularly in the case of George Floyd’s death. But for the most part, he dismisses the research she cites and she doesn’t come up with specifics, making almost an “everybody knows . . . .” kind of argument. Under pressure, they both tend to retreat to established positions, which not only keeps the dialog from moving forward, but also effectively illustrates how far apart their positions are. Salter’s fallback is “you weren’t there.” That’s an inarguable position.

While the story wasn’t satisfactory in a conventional sense, in that there was no great epiphany by either of them during the ride, it is brilliant in showing how much more dialog is needed to bridge the gap. The book, with its biases (the authors make the point that we all have them), like the ride-along itself, is only a first step. But someone has to take it, and Zafiro and Conway have made a worthy effort. I hope it achieves a wide readership among thoughtful people.

Earlier this week, I wrote about Unexpected Synchronicities. Here’s another one. Recently, I watched the highly regarded 2019 documentary The Human Factor, by Israeli film director Dror Moreh. It chronicles the negotiations undertaken in the Clinton Administration to bring peace to the Middle East. Through photos and video coverage you see the main players—President Clinton; Israeli presidents Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak; Palestine Liberation Army chairman Yasser Arafat; and younger versions of six chief US negotiators: Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Gamal Helal, Aaron David Miller, Daniel Kurtzer, and Robert Malley, who gave interviewers unprecedented access for this film.

Like in The Ride-Along, you see two intractable sides, locked in a mutually damaging struggle, in which no resolution seems forthcoming. The two sides’ frames of reference barely overlap. At one point, one of the American negotiators comments that the whole idea of peace meant something different to the Israelis than to Arafat. Then, strategic slips in the last round of negotiations set the stage for 25 additional years of conflict. What had been moving in the right direction slid back into chaos. We need to learn from that on the home front.

Film reviewer Matt Fagerhorn says The Human Factor shows “how much we have to lose when we give into the easy temptation of demonizing those who think differently.” It’s a judgment that applies equally to the conflicts in The Ride-Along.

Further reading and viewing:

Shots Fired: The Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, and Myths about Police Shootings by Joseph K. Loughlin and Kate Clark Flora.

Dror Mohreh’s riveting documentary, The Gatekeepers, consisting of interviews with past heads of Israel’s internal Security service, Shin Bet, about the consequences of failure to find peace.

Listen To Me

The popular duo of Boston Police Department detective Jane Rizzoli and forensic pathologist Maura Isles returns in Tess Gerritsen’s latest crime thriller, Listen to Me. Number thirteen in the series, it’s the first I’ve read.

The investigators’ probe into the brutal murder of nurse Sofia Suarez is interleaved with what a little research indicates is a story line unusual for this series, the antics of Jane’s mother Angela. Busybody Angela is a Neighborhood Watch unto herself, and a repeat caller to the suburban Revere police department regarding her suspicions about the shenanigans of her neighbors. Her calls are not only a nuisance—ruffling interdepartmental feathers that Jane has to try to smooth—but you can’t help thinking the calls will come back to hurt her. Maybe she is indeed onto something. Or maybe she will have cried wolf too many times, if a real threat emerges. All you can be sure of is that Jane is fast running out of patience with her.

The investigation into Suarez’s death moves forward at a snail’s pace. The woman was well-respected and generally liked by her neighbors and work colleagues at the Pilgrim Hospital Surgical Intensive Care Unit. There’s nothing in those relationships to suggest any animosity toward her.

Unexpectedly, the best lead comes from Jamal Bird, an African-American teenager living on Suarez’s block who helped her set up her electronics. Suarez’s cell phone and laptop are missing. Finding them, or otherwise getting at their records may hold some actionable information. The first interesting thing Jamal tells them is that Suarez bought the computer for some kind of research. They can’t help wondering whether what she was looking into is what put her in the sights of a killer.

A subtheme of the book is the tricky nature of mother-daughter relationships. The younger generation’s behavior is what usually creates these dilemmas, but in three situations in this book, it’s the reverse.

Ultimately, the plot seems a bit of a stretch. However, fans of Gerritsen’s characters may easily overlook that issue. It’s also possible that most books in this series come down a little harder on the police procedural or medical examiner aspects, whereas this book, in devoting so much real estate to Angela’s meddling, has less room to develop those details. It was a little difficult for me to accept that someone who is both the girlfriend and mother of crackerjack police detectives could be so oblivious to the possible bad outcomes she courted. If you haven’t read Gerritsen before, you might want to start with an earlier book.

Guns + Tacos at the Midnight Hour

Gosh, I’ve read a lot of good books lately, as well as some notable short story collections!

I received Volumes 5 and 6 of the Guns + Tacos series, edited by Michael Bracken and Trey R. Barker. These were the “subscriber editions,” and each contained three novella-length stories. (some of the editions are sold for parts on Amazon; since they’re short, order the compilations). The stories in Volume 5 were by Dave Zeltserman, Stacy Woodson, and David H. Hendrickson and in Volume 6 by Hugh Lessig, Neil S. Plakcy, and Andrew Welsh-Huggins.

The underlying conceit is that somewhere in Chicago you can find a taco truck after midnight, where, if you order “the special,” you get a handgun with it. Thus the stories have names like “Refried Beans and a Snub-Nosed .44” or “Chimichangas and a couple of Glocks” or “Two Tamales, One Tokarev, and a Lifetime of Broken Promises.” In Volume 6, editor Bracken provides dessert with the three entrees, “Christmas Enchiladas and a Gold-Plated Derringer.”

Of course, if all the folks in these stories know about the taco truck, the cops must too, but set that aside. The stories are highly and consistently entertaining, long enough to develop a strong premise, but not so long as to wear it out.

Midnight Hour, edited by Abby L. Vandiver, is a compilation of twenty remarkable stories by authors of color. In a foreword, Stephen Mack Jones says their writing “without preaching or proselytizing, uncovers and reveals the distortions and delusions, fallacies and myths of an American society that has often pushed such voices to the back of the literary bus.” Or, as it may feel to the authors, under the bus. You don’t have to have a political agenda to enjoy these stories, many of which would stand up against many other recent compilations. There’s a lot of great stuff here, and if The Best American Mystery and Suspense series intends to diversify its selection of authors, I’d say, start right here. Highly recommended.

From Page to (Sound) Stage

A book that authors especially may find intriguing is Fallen Angels, from 1993. I found it sitting on my sister-in-law’s bookshelf just waiting for me to pounce. It’s a collection of six original noir stories by the masters, each followed by a half-hour script developed from it that aired on Showtime almost 30 years ago (still available on YouTube).

You’ll see from the directors and cast members involved that this was an ambitious project, with Sydney Pollack as executive producer. The hallmarks of noir—jazzy scores, cigarette-smoke veils, shoulder pads—they’re all there.

James Ellroy’s preface explains the stories’ appeal this way: “Hard-boiled fiction, spawned in the violent and flush 1920s, began as a prophecy: This country will most likely crash and burn. If it doesn’t, the price of the political accommodations and human sacrifices made in order to retain a corrupt system will be very, very high. Hard-boiled fiction is about that price.” Something to think about.

The Stories

“I’ll be Waiting” by Raymond Chandler. The teleplay by C Gaby Mitchell clarified some ambiguity in the original, adding significant detail at the end. Tom Hanks directed, and it starred Bruno Kirby as a hotel dick with a deadly dilemma.

“The Frightening Frammis” by Jim Thompson, teleplay by Jon Robin Baitz and Howard A Rodman. Directed by Tom Cruise, it featured Peter Gallagher and Isabella Rossellini. Con artists and grifters lock horns, and the two stories play out differently. I liked the original story better, but the ending might have seemed too pat.

“Dead-End for Delia” by William Campbell Gault, teleplay by Scott Frank. Phil Joanou directed with Gary Oldman, Meg Tilly, Gabrielle Anwar, and Paul Guilfoyle in the leads. A cop’s estranged wife is murdered, and he strikes out with an investigation of his own.

“Murder, Obliquely” by Cornell Woolrich, teleplay by Amanda Silver. Alfonso Cuaron directed stars Laura Dern, Alan Rickman, and Diane Lane. This story of a relationship gone bad was about twice as long as the preceding ones. To fit it into the half-hour format, a lot of cuts were needed. It was interesting to see how they focused on the main event–what stayed and what didn’t. A nice exercise in concision.

“The Quiet Room” by Jonathan Craig, teleplay by Howard A Rodman. Steven Soderbergh directed. Joe Mantegna played a dirty cop and Bonnie Bedelia his equally larcenous partner. This story was about half the length of the others, so had to be drawn out. But it lost no dynamism in the process.

“Since I Don’t Have You” by James Ellroy, teleplay by Steven Katz. Gary Busey plays a Hollywood fixer who serves two masters—real-life gangster Mickey Cohen (James Woods) and Howard Hughes (Tim Matheson). Inevitably, this work “had to produce what lawyers nowadays would call a ‘conflict a’ interest’ Of course it was over a woman” (Aimee Graham). Meeks is from small-town Oklahoma, and the teleplay gives him “country yokel” diction, which the original story did not have (nor need).

If you’ve ever thought about seeing your stories make the leap from page to stage or screen, here’s a chance to see that process in action.

The Quiet People

In award-winning author Paul Cleave’s new crime thriller, Cameron and Lisa are crime writers based in Christchurch, New Zealand, with a string of successful books behind them. They’re also parents of seven-year-old Zach who is, euphemistically “a little different.” More bluntly, he’s a terror—unpredictable, badly behaved, uncooperative. You know Cameron wants to be a conscientious father, but it’s hard, and one morning, Zach is gone.

Detective Inspector Rebecca Kent and her new partner DI Ben Thompson are in charge of the investigation and follow the usual playbook. There’s a shortage of physical clues, and everything Cameron says works against him. He narrates much of the story, which enables a deep look into his psyche, in the manner of a psychological thriller. Chapters about the police work, by contrast, are in third-person, and read more like a police procedural.

A short prologue reveals that Zach and another boy are in the hands of a known pedophile named Lucas Pittman, which, for readers, justifies Cameron’s frenzy and makes the police’s painstakingly slow progress all the more frustrating.

At a too-hastily assembled news conference, Cameron loses his temper on live television. Now the circus really starts. The police suspect the distressed parents; growing crowds incited by social media picket the house, yell at the couple from the street, and call Cameron a child killer. As each new piece of evidence comes to light, the crowds and wild accusations grow.

The news coverage is disastrous. Old footage of Cameron and Lisa giving talks at writers’ conferences making jokes like “we kill people for a living” are shown out of context. An arrest seems inevitable and imminent.

At this point, you might think Cameron has hit bottom. Oh, no. Things get much worse and in surprising ways. It’s a testament to author Cleave’s skill that, as Cameron becomes increasingly unhinged, he has become such a compelling and believable character that you’re ready to follow him along a quite dark path. Meanwhile the bad calls the police have made are precipitating a crisis of conscience for Detective Kent. 

There’s much more to come, and while many books are promoted as “page turners,” for me this really was one! The most chilling aspect was the vitriolic and insensitive behavior of the crowds that felt as if it could spill over into violence any second. It’s a scenario all too believable as another dark side of social media. (In a true story reported by Katherine Laidlaw in the October issue of Wired, “Last year in a small bayside town in Nova Scotia, 3-year-old Dylan Ehler vanished, leaving nothing but two rain boots. In the following days, thousands of online sleuths descended on Facebook groups to help with the search. Then they turned.” On the parents.)

That’s what happens when all “facts” are equal, and there’s no incentive to distinguish true from false, but rather, to coast through life on a tide of emotion and outrage. Cleave well describes how Cameron and Lisa were at risk of drowning in it.