‘The Long Shadows of Small Ghosts’ Delves Into a Shocking Texas Crime

Journalist Laura Tillman’s first book is an examination of the murder of three young children in Brownsville.

By Joy DiazApril 4, 2016 11:06 am

The Long Shadows of Small Ghosts by Laura Tillman is a murder story that is as disturbing as it is insightful and mesmerizing. The book tells the story of a poor couple in Brownsville who gruesomely murdered their three young children. It’s Kirkus Reviews Editor-in-Chief Clay Smith‘s recommendation for April.

“One of the amazing things about this book is the doggedness of (Tillman) as a reporter. She was very persistent,” Smith says.

Tillman first encountered the story when she was working as a reporter for the Brownsville Herald. John Allen Rubio and Angela Camacho killed and decapitated three young children because Rubio believed they were possessed by demons. Tillman thoroughly unpacks the circumstances surrounding the murder, as well as the lives of the murders.

“I mean, this is not really a true crime book, but its really more of a spiritual book, and even a sociological book,” Smith says.

So, what makes it worthy Smith’s top pick for April?

“What struck me is that we’re in a state that really thinks of itself, politically, as a kind of can-do state, in other words we don’t put a lot of money into social services,” Smith says. “Mental illness is something that you cannot let fall through the cracks, and this is a story that speaks really directly to that. And also – we don’t get a ton of literature about the border and about Brownsville published by one of the major houses in New York, and this is a book that Brownsville deserves.

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.