Amy: My Search for Her Killer – by James Renner

On October 22, 1989 10-year old Amy Mihaljevic was abducted from a shopping mall in Ohio. Her decomposing body was found by the side of a road February 8, of 1990, 3 1/2 months later. James Renner, a child at the time but living in Ohio, heard about the story almost immediately and could not help himself, became interested.  He grew up to be a noted crime journalist with several books to his name. 

Amy: My Search for Her Killer
By James Renner. 2006 
Read by the author 7h 26m
Rating:  7 / true crime

This book is several years out of date, but it’s good in terms of what all the law enforcement agencies (local, state, FBI) were up against at the time and for 15 years afterwards.  Actually, the case is still open and the latest leads came in 2020 and 2021.

Renner started out as a true crime fan and became the author of several books in the genre.  I read True Crime Addict, his first book about how he got interested and went on to forge a career. Renner’s work has won several awards – he’s very active to this day. 

“Amy: My Search for Her Killer: Secrets and Suspects in the Unsolved Murder of Amy Mihaljevic” (That’s what’s on the front cover.)  is the story of the murdered 10-year old girl who stimulated Renner’s life-long interest in true crime.  Journalists have different approaches, different rights, different methods than official investigators and Renner knows his own job and he sometimes goes overboard, imo.  He investigates what he wants to and the way he wants to do it. Whatever will get results or at least further speculation.  He interviews the various people as well as the investigators who will let him.  He can usually get into any and all public records.  He wins the trust of people involved by assuming he has the right to all information.  (Does he? – Maybe … very few of them are required to tell him anything – only documents under freedom of information acts.)  

His writing reveals some little tricks like getting the speaker to slow down because a person deeply involved in a thing usually starts in the middle.  And Renner gets himself as involved as possible, affecting his family.  But solving the mystery will not bring Amy back.  

So moving through the book for awhile Renner narrows the long list of suspects using a few clues, some revealing interviews and a lot of common sense.  Then the list of suspects widens to include some really weird people and the digressions of this investigation are mind-bending, even by the author’s own admission.  

With most true crime novels the reader usually knows who eventually gets arrested and tried.  Not so with this book as the killer has not even yet (2021) been caught although it’s possible that with new leads there might be something coming.  That said, the murderer in I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (Michelle McNamara – 2018) wasn’t captured until about 2 months after that book was released which was 2 years after the author’s death and 32 years after the last murder. 

The Wikipedia article on Amy Mihaljevic doesn’t use Renner’s book as the source of information but does list it as further reading and it updates the information – it also weeds out the digressions.

Renner is okay as his own narrator so it’s not distracting but the reading could have been better.

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