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Jun 30

Obeying Evil by Ryan Green (Audiobook Review)

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I received a copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Obeying Evil

The Mockingbird Hill Massacre Through the Eyes of a Killer

By: Ryan Green

Narrated by: Steve White

 

Synopsis:

 

Obeying Evil presents the shocking true story of Ronald Gene Simmons and the most disturbing family killing spree in the United States. Over the course of a week in 1987, he murdered 14 members of his own family, a former co-worker, and a stranger.

In 1979, Simmons retired as an Air Force Master Sergeant following 20 years of service. The instability that followed his military days exacerbated his desire for control over his family. Simmons used intimidation, humiliation, and violence to assert dominance over all but one of his family members. He allowed a softer side to surface for his favorite daughter, Shelia, whom he forced into an incestuous relationship, and eventually fathered her child.

His need for total control led to isolation within his family and an inability to hold down a job. His frustration grew to untold levels when Sheila left the family home and married another man. With his plans in ruin and his grip softening, Simmons surprisingly supported his family’s desire for a big Christmas celebration. The stage was set for a heartwarming reunion, but he had laid a very different set of plans.

Obeying Evil portrays the Mockingbird Hill Massacre from the perspective of Ronald Gene Simmons. It’s a shocking true story about dominance, intimidation, and extreme violence.

If you are especially sensitive to accounts of the suffering of children, it might be advisable not to listen any further.

If, however, you seek to understand the darker side of human nature by coming face to face with it, then this audiobook is written for you.

 

My review:

I’ve been on a binge of listening to true crime audiobooks and podcasts, so the opportunity to listen to and review Obeying Evil was attractive to me.  I had heard of Ronald Gene Simmons a bit here and there, but I hadn’t seen or listened to anything in depth about him before this book.  I’m always looking for new content to examine so this looked perfect for me.

The first thing I noticed was that this was a much shorter audiobook than I was used to – 3 hours.  By contrast, an audiobook I had recently listened to about BTK was around 11 hours long.  I was a bit worried at first, thinking that this would skip a lot of detail and wouldn’t be worth my time, but I still decided to try it out.

I was completely wrong.  Somehow, Ryan Green manages to make those 3 hours last forever.  He packs so much detail and information into that time – it’s amazing.  I think I listened to this one over the course of one day because I just couldn’t stop listening – I had to learn what happened next.  This is where not knowing the details behind this case is a good thing, as all of these details were brand new to me so I didn’t feel like I was rehearing the same details over and over.

This is also not just the usual retelling of a case, telling us about Simmons’ life, what led to him being such a sick person, his wife’s upbringing, and so on.  Again, I don’t know how Green did this, but he had a first person view of both Simmons’ and his wife’s thoughts.  I presume this may have come from Simmons’ own testimony and letters found from and to various family members.  As a listener, you are plunged into the depravity of this man’s actions and the terrible things he did to others, starting well before the actual deaths took place.

Every time I listen to another true crime audiobook or podcast, I think I’m hearing about the absolute worst of human behavior.  Then I listen to another one, and experience a new low.  I have listened to a few things since Obeying Evil, and still nothing has come close to Simmons’ actions.

Steven White’s narration is spot on in this rendition.  I think he struck a good balance between telling the story and adding some emotion into the characters.  Again, the fact that the book is not the usual true crime retelling helps set the tone for the narrator, but I still enjoyed White’s performance.

I do warn that if you are new to true crime stories, I wouldn’t start with this one.  I am by no means new to any of the usual stories, and I was still shocked.  I do think Obeying Evil was worth the listen, but maybe after reading about some other killers first.

While shocking and overwhelmingly sad, Obeying Evil by Ryan Green tells the details of Ronald Gene Simmons’ life and killings thoroughly, with plenty of facts and also emotion. I highly recommend this book and will be seeking out other true crime books and audiobooks by Green.  You can find Obeying Evil through Amazon and Audible.

 

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