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The Setup: A True Story of Dirty Cops,…

The Setup: A True Story of Dirty Cops, Soccer Moms, and Reality TV

by Pete Crooks

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It's always funny when people try to translate the things they see on the movies and TV into their everyday life.

It's confusing when they do so in the midst of filming a reality TV show. Things get meta, fast.

Pete Crooks is a mild-mannered journalist who's just trying to finish an assignment about a local PI when he gets tipped off that the ride-along he went on was a setup. This draws him far too deeply into the web of intrigue, backstabbing and outright pettiness that almost all of us not there associate with California.

Crooks is an able reporter and a pretty good writer, though his constant jumps in the narrative (I believed this guy, but I didn't know x, y or z) are more jarring than helpful - if you're trying to bring the reader along with you, don't spoil the ending? ( )
  thoughtbox | May 27, 2016 |
This book has everything that my deep, dark, trashy reality-TV-loving inner self doesn't want to publicly admit to loving: liars, cheats, and sociopathic con-men. (While I wouldn't casually announce it at dinner parties, I consider myself a chronic closet talk show/ reality TV show fan. Dr. Phil? Love it. Dance Moms? I DVR it. World's Dumbest Criminals and Cops? My favorite shows to watch while nursing a particularly intense hang over. And I won't even talk about the time my husband took me to the Jerry Springer show. As a audience member, mind you, not a guest;) I know. This stuff is mind-rot, drivel, the down of America. Whatever. I agree, but it is mindless entertainment that I can turn to when I need a break). This book is about the quest for reality-show fame - for any sort of fame, really, and the lengths that some people will go to claim their 15 minutes of glory or infamy.

In 2010, Chris Butler made a splash when he appeared on multiple media venues (Dr. Phil, The Today Show, featured in People magazine) promoting his P.I. Moms. This is the story of how local San Fransiscan journalist/editor, Pete Crooks, got entwined in a unbelievable story of hidden debauchery, illegal drug trafficking and dirty cops when covering the seemingly innocent fluff story of a proposed Lifetime reality show centered around Butler and his P.I. Moms. (This reality show never aired due to the malicious internal sabotage from one of Butler's employees, the douchiest villain to grace the pages of true crime since Scott Peterson, male actor/model/part-time P.I and full-time liar, Carl Marino.) It is a wild ride down the rabbit hole that unearths unsettling setups and betrayal in the San Francisco Bay Area.

What made this a great read (apart from the reality TV raunch that I so love) is the quirky voice of Pete Crooks. In terms over covering the larger-than-life personalities of this case, the author is both witty and cutting, but also, in turns, empathetic and fair-minded. (Side note: the author could also be rather self-congratulatory and over indulgent in repeatedly reminding the author that he was the journalist who cracked this whole case open. I've noticed this with journalists who write full-length features - the pluming of their literary accomplishments and the puffing repetition of the reminders of their hard work. You could call it a pet-peeve). Overall, it was a fast, fun read that had incredibly memorable characters. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to fans of celebrity gossip, "reality" TV and the lighter side of investigative reporting.

Thanks NetGalley *blows kisses* ( )
  myownwoman | Jan 12, 2015 |
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