True Crime Book Review - I am Accused of Murder!

So far the Hard Time reviews out of America have been positive as you can see by clicking here. But I'm unsure what to make of todays review by Kim Cantrell for True Crime Book Reviews. As you can see if you clicked over and read it, Kim begrudgingly recommends the book at the end of the review, after attacking me from multiple angles beforehand. Here's an excerpt: " I was subjected to almost 300 pages of whining from a man who admits his that he trafficked in millions of dollars of drugs, sold them at raves, and employed numerous persons as security – at least one who murdered on his behalf..."

Kim: I firmly believe in free speech, and thanks for recommending Hard Time, but how can you justify this murder nonsense? Are you, by any chance, working for Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

Readers: What do you make of Kim's review?

Shaun Attwood  


Anonymous said...

Gab's response to Kim:

I think you are somewhat missing the point with your review, not to mention including some pretty slanderous inaccuracies.

Far from being a “whinge” about his time in the jail, Shaun skilfully describes in Hard Time how the experience changed him. Although he entered jail somewhat arrogant, he learns to take full responsibility for his crimes, accept the pain that his actions caused his loved ones, and begin to find a way to atone for the life of crime he led.

I find it surprising that you could not see the influence of Arpaio’s sadistic regime on every page, and needed it sign-posting that the conditions the inmates endure are a direct result of his command. That the man himself does not have scenes directly with Shan is irrelevant. It is solely Joe Arpaio who is responsible for rats being regularly found in the meals served to prisoners, cockroach infestations, lack of medical treatment, the murder of vulnerable inmates by guards, and the terrifying power that the gangs maintain.

Shocking to me also is your dismissal of these conditions as being acceptable within a jail. The message of the book, and Shaun’s purpose in setting up his blog are clearly lost on you. The inhumane treatment that prisoners endure in this jail is in violation of numerous human rights laws, as even Amnesty International can attest.

Shaun is not innocent of the crimes he went to prison for, but he is a human being whose loss of liberty for committing those crimes he accepted. (And on the subject of his crimes, he did not order the murder of anyone, and I am astonished that you have stated that in your review.) What Shaun, and nobody should have to accept, no matter what their crime, are the degrading and terrifying conditions that are encouraged under Arpaio’s regime.

Perhaps it’s an English thing, and Lord knows that currently in the UK we are not doing the best job at this right now either, but as Winston Churchill once said, “the civilisation of a society can be judged by the way it treats its prisoners”. To that end, I question your alarmingly nationalistic final sentence.

Anonymous said...

Saying that you had someone murder someone is libellous and you should ask her to remove it from her piece.


Jon said...


I don't think anyone will take Kim's murder comment seriously. I suspect her motive is to draw attention to her review by being inflammatory. It certainly drew my attention, so her strategy appears to be working.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but you need to ask her whereabouts in the book it says that you got someone to murder to someone. It is important - people could read it and think its true. Your integrity is at stake and you should question her.


Anonymous said...

at least she still liked the book, it is only a blog though, also from Tennessee, lots of right wing nutters there,

Anonymous said...

I think she should be checked over this murder business, how on earth has she arrived at this conclusion?


Anonymous said...

Actually, apart from the murder thing!, its a good reveiw.

Anonymous said...

I actually think this is a really good review- provocative and engaging. It will definitely get people to read the book!

Anonymous said...

On one hand, I think a review like that can only entice people to read your book...on the other hand, I'd like to shake her very hard and scream in her face 'DON'T YOU GET IT?????' Arrrrgggghhhh!


Anonymous said...

All publicity is good publicity - you know who said that don't you?! He's not wrong!

Anonymous said...

I think Kim missed the point somehow

madame frau said...

Back in the days when I was young,im not a kid anymore
but some days I sit wish I was a kid again

Kim Cantrell said...

Hello Shaun, Everyone -

Seems that I have created quite the stir. I agree with the commenter who stated it should be very good for sales indeed. And, Shaun, I do wish you (as I do all authors) well in your endeavors.

Now, please allow me to address the murder issue. My exact statement was, "...and employed numerous persons as security – at least one who murdered on his behalf...". I was referring to page 17, fourth paragraph of Hard Time which says, "That’s how I earned the protection of the New Mexican Mafia. It was a relationship that probably saved my life later on, when, for reasons of their own, they killed some rival gangsters who were about to shoot and rob me.”

I do not accuse you, Shaun, of murdering anyone, but of one someone do it FOR him. I realize it was not ordered by you, but done BECAUSE of you - or at least what you represented to them, which was a drug supplier.

I respect that we are different parts of the world where a single word can create a different meaning but in here in America we'd say it was done on your behalf.

So I stand by my statement.

And, yes, I did get the point of the book. You were not yet convicted of the crimes but having to serve hard time as though you were.

If you were an innocent man, I'd be the first to step up and say how horribly wrong such conditions are. However, I just can't summon the strength when you admit your guilt. Instead, I'm prone to think of the young lives that you forever changed with the drugs you introduced at your raves (although I do blame them too for making the choice to partake, but we're on you right now so I'll save them for later), the family of the man allegedly killed by the NMM to protect their drug supply from YOU, your parents who tapped out their life savings defending you (for which I commend your gratefulness and have no doubt you will spend a lifetime repaying as your love for your parents is obvious but they were victims nonethessless).

I could go on and on but this comment is long enough. Shaun, I am first and foremost a victims rights advocate. I will not back down from that.

Show me a victim, I'll show you a fighter. But you weren't. You made your bed, you had to lie in it.

That said, from all accounts, you seem to be on the straight and narrow. And for that, I give you kudos and applause. You are truly to be commended.

But I stand by my statements.

Anonymous said...

It's actually a decent review if you look past the slander...


josietoms said...

well, we are all different and have different opinions and this is good, because it is what makes us individual people. People ultimatly make up your own minds and go buy the book and read it, because that is the only way to find out and give your own opinion on the book.

josephine toms said...

It takes all sorts of people to make a world and we are all entitled to our opinions, because this is what makes us individuals. the best way to make your own mind up as an individual is to read the book yourself, because ultimately people can make there own minds up so, Go for it buy the book and see what you think .

Anonymous said...

I think she's still missing the point. The main focus of the book is to expose the conditions in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jail system. Yes Shaun has admitted that he was guilty, but isn't there something in the legal system that says innocent u...ntil proven guilty???? Many innocent people are incarcerated pending trial, but in these jails they are treated in such a de-humanised way, that life will never be the same for them again. THAT is the point that Kim is missing. Shaun is just telling of his experiences so that, hopefully, things can change, and basic human rights can be restored!


Anonymous said...

The US constitution protects that defendants shall be presumed innocent until , with due process, they are proved to be guilty.And they have a right to a speedy trial(within 6 months, unless you waive that right by agreeing to delays. You ...don't have to agree, and plea agreements are consent to contract with the court. Make the Prosecutor prove the charges. That means no penalties should apply until after conviction. Even after conviction defendants have Constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.


Anonymous said...

My idea is to do a celebrity big brother in sheriff arpagio's jail. I know the eastender man has done life in britains toughest jails, but I think that It would be a challenge and they could raise money for a good cause.


Anonymous said...

america's not britain's


Anonymous said...

I think all sheriff's and Judges should be anonymous inmates for a week or two . before than can hold office. That would soften their perspectives. God says " As ye measure unto man, so shall it be measured unto you , in the day of Judgement. " Good luck with that Sheriff!


Chris H said...

Big Dawg,

Since she sees you as almost like a hardened mob boss, tap up your Mexican Mafia hombres and have her whacked. Pow!

Hugs & kisses

Chris H

Jon said...


Your post could be misconstrued by the US authorities as conspiracy to incite murder. I'd like to make it clear that your intention here is humour. The UK authorities have never refused extradition of a UK citizen to the US authorities.

Anonymous said...

From Kim's blog:

Kim, if you are interested in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, you might like to hear about the trouble he’s been having. A political ally, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeau, was handpicked by Arpaio to conduct an internal investigation into Arpaio’s department. That investigation was recently released (in part, that is). Although Babeau was hand picked, his report didn’t turn out so well for Sheriff Arpaio. Here is one police officer’s take on the Arpaio situation in general

All of the defendants in my books spend considerable time in Sheriff Arpaio’s jail. It is not my favorite place to visit.


Anonymous said...

From Kim's blog:

Hey Camille, thanks for the link. Ouch, that had to sting for Sheriff Joe. Your own guy kicks you to the curb.

I guess I should better explain myself…I’m no fan of Sheriff Joe. He does waste more money in lawsuits, medical, etc. than he saves. But, for those who are sentenced, I think they should do hard, hard time. And the whiney b*st*rds shouldn’t be allowed to file a lawsuit. What ever happened to personal responsiblity?!

Harsh, I know. But what happens to the victims of the inmates’ crimes? The families of the people murdered, molested children, the victims whose lives will be lived as permanently disabled. No one worries about coddling them. Sure, there’s court appointed victims advocates – but, you know as well as I do, they’re frequently and too often forgotten once the trial is over. If they were even a fleeting thought before. While the criminals are given three squares, college educations, cable television, shelter, meals, multiple trials and appeals. Aargh!

Please don’t think I took your post as being favorable to criminals, Camille. I didn’t. I’m just a huge victims rights advocate and can easily find a way to get on my soapbox.

If Attwood had been a guy, wrongly accused, say in the wrong place, at the wrong time, I’d been the first one on Sheriff Joe’s door spouting off, “Innocent until guilty” and yadda, yadda, yadda. But I just can’t summon it when, well, I think justice was rightly served in this case.

Ok, stepping off soapbox….for now.


Anonymous said...

From Kim's blog:

Clearly we are at cross-purposes here Kim, and it saddens me that your view of those who have committed a crime is so black and white. Redemption is open to all, regardless of their actions, and I also firmly believe that if you treat people badly they will respond to you in kind.

In no way do I condone the despicable crimes you use as examples, but I strongly believe that each individual should be given the opportunity to atone for their mistakes, learn from them, and become a better human being who is able to give back to society once their time in jail / prison is over. – By suffering the brutality of a regime such as Arpaio’s this is made that much harder.

Prison is about punishment, I agree, and that is what the loss of liberty is all about. It should also be about education and rehabilitation however. (Jail, where Shaun’s book is set is where there are both the innocents you wish to champion, as well as those who are yet to be proved guilty.)

Shaun is an exceptional human being whose ability to turn this experience into a positive one is remarkable, and has been as a result of his mental tenacity, and the emotional support he has received from his loved ones. He now speaks to numerous schools each week about the dangers of drug use (the DVD of his talk is also available FOR FREE to schools both in the UK and in the U.S.)

MOST prisoners are not so fortunate however, and are very far from being able to turn their negative choices into positive outcomes that can benefit society.

Whatever you readers’ views, this book is required reading for anyone with a view about the penal system.

You may think I have a quote for everything, but it is something of a hobby of mine… This time, I refer you to Gandhi “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

p.s. thank you for the clarification that the murder you refer to WAS NOT undertaken at Shaun’s specific request, but was one of many of terrible deaths that result in involvement with gang crime and drug deailng.

Chris H said...


Obviously not my intention to get you or I in trouble.

My intention was more aimed at highlighting how crazy a statement it was for Kim to make.

Obviously - I wish Kim no harm and bear her no I'll will.

Derick Attwood said...

Derick Attwood's response to Kim

Hello Kim,
many thanks for reviewing my son Shaun’s book ‘Hard Time’.
I am a firm believer that if people commit crimes they should be punished. The taking away of liberty for a period commensurate with the crime committed is, I think, a satisfactory one. Shaun broke laws in the USA and was punished accordingly.

One or two items in your review I would like to comment on.
You say ‘I admit that Attwood has a superb writing ability. Really, the lad has serious talent.’
Also ‘I couldn’t stop reading. Attwood just has a way of reeling you in, making you turn the pages.’
But you also say ‘I was subjected to almost 300 pages of whining.’
I find the contradictory statements confusing.

I have to tell you that in all the times that we visited Shaun in jail and in prison, my wife and I never once heard him complain, or as you put it ‘whine’. In fact he always greeted us with a huge smile, and that included the time on Boxing Day when he was brutally attacked whilst on his way to the visitation room (we never discovered this until after his release).

The curious accusations or suggestions in the complicity of a murder, ‘he employed numerous persons as security – at least one who murdered on his behalf,’
and then you quote from the book ‘That’s how I earned the protection of the New Mexican Mafia. It was a relationship that probably saved my life later on, when, for reasons of their own, they killed some rival gangsters who were about to shoot and rob me.’
So who exactly did Shaun conspire with to have a murder done on his behalf?

But this statement you make is very disturbing, ‘Jail is supposed to be a punishment. I do not believe, nor will I ever believe, that murderers, rapist, child killers, drug dealers, or other lowlifes of society deserve humane treatment during incarceration.’
Why shouldn’t all prisoners receive humane treatment whilst incarcerated? Do you really believe that torture, murder, mistreatment, should be the daily companions of prisoners? Wouldn’t this be like agreeing with Hitler or Stalin? It would surely churn out even more anti-social deviants if inhumane treatment was the accepted norm in jails and prisons.

‘But, for those who are sentenced, I think they should do hard, hard time. And the whiney b*st*rds shouldn’t be allowed to file a lawsuit’

On the above quote, two last points. (you’ll probably describe them as whinges) Sheriff Arpaio’s inmates are unsentenced prisoners awaiting trial (or more likely plea bargain offers). Surely you would agree treatment for the unconvicted should be humane? On lawsuits, usually the ‘whiney b*st*rds’ are usually too dead to sue for themselves, it’s normally the grieving family who does it for them. Just one example from Arpaio’s list of many lawsuits, Scott Norberg. He died as detention officers held him in a restraint chair, Norberg’s family accepted an $8.25 million settlement from the county and the sheriff’s office.

Thanks again for the book review,

Derick Attwood

Anonymous said...

Gabriella, I don’t think we are as different as it seems on the surface. I agree that many people are reedemable, but there are too many who are not.

Shaun, I agree, is an exception. I think he truly learned from his mistakes and is now using his knowledge and abilities to do good. And for that, I agree he is, as you say, a remarkable man.

But he is an exception to the rule, unfortunately. In my time as a victims advocate, a legal secretary, and a true crime reader, too often I see the horrendous crimes comitted man against man. So often they are given repeated chances to reform, yet they choose not to (see my review today of Watch Mommy Die as an example.)

So how do we determine who will make the most of the punishment and who won’t? We can’t. Is my way the answer? No, I know it isn’t. But I believe that you have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything, and this is the stance I choose.

I think the one thing we agree on completely is that folks should read Hard Time and form their own opinions.


Anonymous said...

Kim, I know you are well acquainted with my advocacy for victims, so I don’t worry about that.

I do feel passionate on that topic. I see first hand that there is no way to put back together these shattered lives. There is definitely a system in place to provide food, shelter and medical care for defendants and convicts, while victims of crime must scrabble as well they can on the outside with whatever resources they can muster.

But the other desperately ugly reality is that no matter how harshly we treat prisoners, it doesn’t improve the plight of victims: there is no correlation.

When it comes to conditions in prisons, I haven’t lost one single brain cell wondering if Dale Hausner, the serial killer in my book A Sudden Shot, is getting the dessert he likes or his pillow is lumpy. On the other hand, I know that a significant portion of the inmates who come through jail–this is jail, where nearly all of them are awaiting trial, not prison, where 100% of them have been convicted–will be deemed not guilty, mentally ill, false confessions, or have been incarcerated for unfortunate but minor errors in judgment, or even because of law enforcement errors or misconduct. These people should be treated humanely, as they could well be any one of us at any time. Trouble is, at that juncture, pre-trial, as most in the Maricopa County Jail are, you don’t know yet which is which.

My attention was riveted when I was reading law enforcement interviews of inmates in my last book, What She Always Wanted, and found some of these prisoners terrified to return to the Maricopa County Jail even though they were currently incarcerated somewhere else, where the conditions could hardly be considered comfy.

I do believe that all public institutions should maintain minimum standards of hygiene. We don’t need a bunch of hepatitis carriers released on the public at large, do we? We should also maintain a certain level of humanity as well. Only a tiny fraction of convicts are executed. That means most of them get out. We don’t want them so dehumanized there is nothing left for them but an increase in depravity.

Therefore, to me, creating Bastille-like conditions in a modern American jail, while emotionally satisfying in certain cases, perhaps, does not increase public safety but jeopardizes it instead.

Having said all that, I have no idea what the answer is. As you say, some, even many, criminals are absolutely devoid of redemptive possibilities and pose a danger to all of us. Like everyone else, I want them far away.


Anonymous said...

Tut tut tut, fancy a victim rights advocate writing a book review of the accussed. Balance is not what I expect, but I’m with Kim on some pages.

While I may not be a total bleeding heart, my views changed after I did time in a US prison.

Kim the unfair thing about jails and prisons is that there are a lot of people who shouldn’t be there. The mentally ill, wrongfully arrested or convicted and those whose ‘crimes’ don’t fit the punishment

Don’t lump them all together.

The Duchess of Hackney

Anonymous said...

Mr. Derick Attwood,

first let me say that I do not even pretend to know how it must feel to have a child accused of crimes, spending time in a horrific jail while living thousands of miles away on another continent. While reading Shaun’s book, my heart grieved for you and his mother. When he described his mother’s difficulties and shame, my heart broke for her. Not to take anything from you, it’s simply a Mum to Mum understanding.

Now I’ll address everyone with the rest of my comment….

You all have made very valid arguments, ones that are no less correct than my own. And I commend you all for holding firm to your beliefs. I respect them. I hear them. And, believe it or not, I do consider them.

However, if you will allow me a moment to share personal experiences (not something I’m fond of doing…haha), it may explain my stance and I hope you take it into consideration as I have your statements.

I stood alongside a grieving mother as she buried her 13-year-old daughter who was murdered with an ax, along with her 9-year-old friend and friend’s mother. Why? Because a man believed the friend’s mother was going to turn him in for his role as a drug supplier. The children were murdered just because they could identify him.

I worked on a trial where two men were kidnapped, tortured for hours, murdered, then dumped off a bridge by a group of men led by one doped out skank who conjured up some wrong in his fried brain they had committed against him. Now, for the boys murdered, they were part of a drug life – but their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, they were innocent yet I still saw their grief and anguish.

I met a mother whose son was beaten, his head stomped over and over and over, and then left to die because a drug fiend woman wanted the crucifix he was wearing and he simply tried to protect himself.

My own first cousin stabbed an 80 something year old woman repeatedly with an ice pick, killing her. Why? Because he was high and looking to steal money for more drugs. (For the record, I have zip. zero. zilch. sympathy for my own blood. He is serving a life sentence just as he should be.)

The woman murdered less than 50 miles from my home, who had ran to the store for a gallon of milk, by a member of the MS13 gang in an initiation shooting. She was due to deliver a son in less than a month.

And those are just a few of the drug related stories I can tell, which relate to this particular debate. If I shared the stories of child and adults sexually violated by molestation or rape, or the daintly dubbed “white collar crimes” that left senior citizens in absolute poverty after working hard their entire lives, or the mothers who have murdered their children in the name of “depression,” (understand that I know some are real while others
are just a defense claim), or the beautiful young lives ended as a trump to a divorce, then my stories would go on and on endlessly.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I’m out of sympathy for those who introduce drugs to society, to gangs and their violence, and overall cannot see the widespread effects their actions have on ALL of society – not just in their direct circle. Actions are not without consequences. If you don’t want to suffer them, and may be extremely harsh such as in Sheriff Joe’s jail, DON’T COMMIT THE CRIME.

The people murdered weren’t give a second chance. They weren’t offered dignity and respect as they lay dying. The parents of those murdered never again get a chance to hug their child or hear their voice. ByANOTHER’S choice, these VICTIMS were ripped away from loved ones.
And every day, every year is a strugle for their families. And then the families become victimized again and again and again by our justice system.

So again, I’m sorry but I’m out of sympathy if a GUILTY inmate – even if unsentenced – of a lifestyle that either directly or indirectly such effects on lives was served green baloney, Red Death soup, and had to cocoon himself to avoid the cockroaches. He (or she in some instances) is still LIVING. And as they say, “Any day on this side of the dirt is a good day.” Because as long as you’re living, there is chances.

You want to discuss fairness ? Well, ask the person six foot under about fairness for their killer.

For the Duchess, I will give due to the mentally ill. And my heart breaks for those. But anymore there mental diagnosis for everything in America (they even came out with one for picky eaters I heard about the other day…ugh!), which makes it difficult to know who is truly mentally ill and who isn’t. I will say my stance however is this, if you knew what you were doing was wrong then you’re not mentally ill enough to escape consequences.

Before I go, let me make it clear, I know Shaun did not kill but his lifestyle led to the death of at least one man. There is probably more who died, indirectly because of the ecstacy and such trafficked in. Which is why I mention the crimes of murder. Drugs do lead to violence, violence often leads to murder.

I’m long winded, folks, I know. If you’ve read this far, thank you. I do appreciate all of your comments and I hope you will continue to share.


Anonymous said...

"f you don’t want to suffer them, and may be extremely harsh such as in Sheriff Joe’s jail, DON’T COMMIT THE CRIME."

As many of the people in the jail are not convicted of any crime, you're message should actually read "If you don't want to suffer them and may be extremely harsh such as in Sheriff Joe's jail, DON'T GET ACCUSED OF A CRIME"

Which is a point you, and others repeatedly ignore. By all means argue that convicted criminals should be treated harshly, but if you don't understand the implications of the phrase "innocent until proven guilty" then you don't inspire confidence that you understand the foundations of a democratic and civilized legal system.