I’m not completely sure what I was expecting from the second and final book in this series, but I don’t think it’s what we’ve got. The first book introduces us to Chris Kyle, his friend Chad Littlefield (who was shot at the same time), and the murderer Eddie Routh. We’re also introduced to Kyle’s wife and family, who are central to the circumstances of the last few years of his life. It finishes with the murder and leaves us hanging on the consequences of what happens next.
The trouble is, although the life and death of Chris Kyle are deeply interesting, the aftermath is not. Eddie Routh is apprehended in a relatively straight-forward manner: there’s no OJ Simpson-style car chase or anything more dramatic than him camping out for a few hours in Kyle’s car with a collection of guns.
Next comes the trial, which is also uneventful, at least in terms of any courtroom drama. At least, that’s how it appears from Fabian Nury’s interpretation, which is what we get in the book.
So what else is there to cover? Some insights into Routh’s state of mind might be of interest, but there’s very little here. There’s some gentle poking around at theories of why Routh might have committed the murders, but nothing that pushes beyond the obvious, potent, drug-addled blend of ego, paranoia and a general absence of hope. Routh himself perhaps has little to say on the subject. Either way, there’s nothing here to suggest that the perpetrator has a voice. Perhaps that’s a good thing for society at large, but I’m not so sure it makes for an interesting book.
Instead, what we get is a documentation of the post-death publicity machine, with Kyle’s wife Taya continuing to build upon and profit from his legacy. I have no problem with her doing that and I’m sure it’s what Kyle would have wanted, to maintain his name, continue his work and provide for his family. However, I don’t really need to follow this insight into her life through the recreation of media interviews and book junkets.
It’s a tad disappointing as a follow-up to the first book, then. What was paced as an exciting investigation into the real murder of a controversial and complex celebrity, collapses somewhat into a question of what there is left to talk about. It takes the edge off the series as a whole, losing the impetus of the first book’s promise of tension and horror, and flipping it into a documentary on Kyle’s legacy. Still, if you’re interested in the man, this is a novel and different way to read about him.