Charles Bosworth Jr. and Joel J. Schwartz’s Bone Deep: Untangling the Betsy Faria Murder Case (Kensington 2022) is a classic true crime tale of murder, intrigue, suspicion, and wrongful conviction. The book is fast-paced, and the case is shocking: Betsy Faria was brutally murdered in her home and discovered by her husband, Russ. Russ is suspected of her murder from the beginning, despite the fact that he had an air-tight alibi and there was not a shred of physical evidence against him. Surprisingly, the police did not consider the last person to see Besty alive as a suspect in her murder. That person was Betsy’s friend Pam Hupp, and Bone Deep details Pam’s sordid and shocking tale.
One of the things I liked the most about this book was the way it details Russ’s trial. Every word that is said by the lawyers and the judge is relayed to the reader, making you feel as though you are watching Court TV. And, if there’s any trial to be a fly on the wall for, it is this one. The unethical and illegal conduct by the prosecution and judge were some of the worst I have ever seen and having an exact play-by-play of the trial really drove that home. This trial in particular is a great study of just how wrong trial can go, and just how little protections are built into the American justice system for the accused. The authors make this clear by relaying the trial carefully and clearly, spending more than half the book dissecting its events. Another element of this book that is very effective is the way that it examines the investigation done by law enforcement. The book’s criticisms of the investigation are plentiful and justified. There were outrageous missteps made by law enforcement and gross negligence that led to an innocent man being thrown in prison. The book details this negligence in full and does not hesitate to connect these dots for the reader.
Another really effective aspect of this book was its profile of Pam Hupp. The book goes into great detail not only about the crimes she committed or was suspected to commit, but also about her background. Bone Deep offers an explanation of how and why Hupp behaved so erratically, and this is something I appreciated as a reader. Some logical explanations are especially welcome in the case such as this one where the dramatic trial of Russ is only the tip of the iceberg. One thing I did not appreciate in the book’s profiling of Pam is the way the narrative would sometimes make comments about Pam’s weight or general appearance. This kind of approach is not unheard of in true crime narratives; these texts often want to establish or highlight monstrosity in a perpetrator, and they do this by presenting the offender in a grotesque manner. This is not my favorite practice and always reads to me as lazy and/or sloppy. However, this only occurs a few times in the text and the establishment of Pam as a criminal relies much more on the facts of the case than it does her physical appearance.
For its breakneck speed, attention to detail, and careful storytelling, this text is worth your time.
About the Writer:
Jesyka Traynor is an academic living in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. When she’s not writing or researching her dissertation, she’s consuming all the true crime and non-fiction she can find time for. Jesyka holds two degrees in English literature and is currently pursuing a doctorate in contemporary Californian literature. Her work on women in twenty-first century true crime has been published in Crime Fiction Studies.