Review & Giveaway: Escaping the Arroyo by Joyce Nance

Title: Escaping the Arroyo

Author: Joyce Nance

Published: June 2012

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on February 19, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

Drawing on court documents, interviews, five years of research and Colene Bush’s first hand account, Escaping the Arroyo combines fact with considered conjecture to create a compelling account of an unspeakable crime.

Escaping the Arroyo is based on the tragic true story of college coeds, Julie Jackson and Colene Bush who were kidnapped at knife point by Michael Guzman from Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1981. Nineteen year old Julie was raped and murdered while twenty year old Colene was stabbed 33 times and left for dead by her callous attacker. Exhibiting an extraordinary instinct for survival, Colene crawled more than 150ft, negotiating two steep embankments, in search of help and survived to identify the young man who nearly destroyed her.

The book begins with a harrowing account of the moment Colene Bush was discovered, bloody and barely breathing, on the side of the I-40 by two young men who glimpsed her pale, partially nude body in the glare of their headlights.
The story then shifts to illustrate the personal histories of Michael Guzman, Julie Jackson and Colene Bush in short vignettes. I found this a little disorientating initially, often only two or three pages in length and the perspective identified by date and place rather than name, I found the changes abrupt but eventually a rhythm emerged, leading to the moment the lives of Michael, Julie and Colene collide.
The next section of the book covers the trial of Michael Guzman, who was sentenced to death for the murder of Julie and the attempted murder of Colene, despite his attempt at an insanity defense.
But for Colene, and Julie’s fiance, James, Guzman’s conviction was little comfort as they tried to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

The story of Escaping The Arroyo is compelling though the writing could do with a little more polish. I felt instances of awkward syntax and the intrusion of the authorial voice interrupted the flow of the narrative at times.

While I think Nance covers the case well, I would have liked to know a bit more about Colene’s life post attack. It can be inferred that Colene struggled badly after her experience but Nance only relates incidents, such as the inexplicable discrimination against Colene by the police and paramedic training institutions, without sharing any real insight into why they occurred.

A tribute to the victims of a vicious killer, Escaping the Arroyo is a fascinating account of a terrible crime and it’s aftermath, and it is a story I am glad Joyce Nance decided to tell. To Colene Bush, I extend my sympathy and my heartfelt admiration for her incredible bravery.

Available to Purchase


About the Author

Joyce Nance, award winning documentarian, video editor, Albuquerque Sports News publisher, and paralegal at the Public Defenders Office, has written her first book. Although she already has a degree in accounting, she is currently pursuing a second degree in Criminal Justice and working on her next true crime book. Originally from California, she now lives in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area.

Website I Facebook I Twitter

Enter to Win

Joyce Nance is offering my readers the opportunity to win

one of three Kindle copies of Escaping the Arroyo

To enter

‘Like’ Joyce Nance’s Facebook page  and leave a comment stating you saw this review at Book’d Out before February 28th

Joyce will draw the winner at random.

Good luck!

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Denise Maclaren
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 12:28:17

    I haven’t read this book yet, but I would like to read it.



  2. alicem2013
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 12:58:23

    Okay I put this on the Facebook page but will put it here too (I really would like this book) Hi I saw this review at Book’d Out before February 28th, please enter me. Hope I did this right! 😉 I really want to read this!



  3. brendat59
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 15:32:42

    Thanks once again Shelleyrae for offering this book..I would love to read it. I saw this review at Book’d Out, and liked Joyce Nance’s FB page.



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